A crowd a couple of hundred strong made the trek out to the Kurnell refinery to tell Caltex that its treatment of the Alexander Spirit crew and the wider working public was unacceptable.
In addition to Maritime Union of Australia members, the group was made up of supporters from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, the Transport Workers’ Union, the Australian Maritime Officers Union, the Fire Brigade Employee’s Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
A number of high profile speakers from each of those unions addressed the crowd as well as the General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, Steve Cotton, who had traveled from London.
Cotton opened up the speeches on the corner of Solander Drive and Captain Cook Drive in saying the international movement was behind the MUA in its determination to protect Australian seafaring jobs.
“The ITF and its 4.6 million members bring their solidarity to Australian transport workers,” he said.
“We’ve watched Caltex what have been doing and we’re watching the situation over here about proper jobs for Australian men and women.
“Brothers and sisters we’re with you, long live the MUA.”
Following Cotton was MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin who went straight after the Abbott Government.
“It’s a funny Australia we live in isn’t it? I mean they talk about this Government with the national security and the threat of terrorism, the threat of refugees turning up at the low tide mark. But when it comes to the real security issues like how do you put petrol in your car, how do you have energy to run your businesses,” Crumlin asked
“Where the jobs are going to come from for young Australian men and women in the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years. What are we going to make? What are we going to do with our sovereign wealth? I mean this oil is owned by us, the taxpayers of Australia. That oil is in place in other countries in a reservation process, where you cannot export it. The number one responsibility of any government is to secure the energy needs of the community.
He said the Government has failed in its primary duty of protecting the Australian community.
“The first thing you do is insulate your own country economically, efficiently and industrially, and provide jobs for the citizens and that takes leadership,” he said.
“This is our country, these are our resources, this is our security, these are our jobs, this is our future and if you won’t comply then we will find some kind of political leadership that can.”
Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAleer was the rally’s MC and he used his opportunity to condemn the actions of multi-million dollar oil company Caltex.
“We’re down here at the Caltex terminal, which was a terminal which used to have hundreds and hundreds of members,” he told the crowd.
McAleer said Caltex’s decision to shut down the refinery was insulting.
“Despite the profit, this is a company that has shed hundreds of jobs out of this community and now they’re going to sack another 36 off the Alexander Spirit,” he said referring to Caltex’s announcement of a half-year profit of $375 million a week after telling the crew of the Alexander Spirit they were going to be replaced.
After further speeches by ITF National Coordinator Dean Summers and Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon, the crowd assembled on the road and marched to the terminal gates.
Further speeches were offered by the NSW Greens MP Jamie Parker, South Coast Labour Council’s Arthur Rorris, the TWU’s Shane O’Brien, the FBEU’s Jim Casey, the AMOU’s Robert Coombes and the CFMEU’ Brian Parker, who came down on his first day back at work.