Day one of the WA Branch Conference got off to an explosive start with National Secretary Paddy Crumlin delivering an emotional speech in remembering his recently deceased father-in-law.
It didn’t take long for Crumlin to get fired up when he started talking about the impotence of the Abbott Government and the neo-liberal bosses.
He said it was more important than ever for workers and unions to stick together. “
If we don’t stick together, we end up in casualised work, with no redundancy, getting the sack at whatever the current whim of the day the boss has,” he said.
“We’re going to have to fight for things like proper worker’s compensation, redundancy and superannuation.” Crumlin touched on Chevron and its intentional anti-union stance on the Gorgon project.
He also talked about the intricacies of the offshore visa challenge and how Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash had contravened the will of the Senate, and ergo the voting public, by using an obscure ‘legislative instrument’ to eliminate the need for visas in the offshore. “
You have remember those are our resource projects, it’s our gas. Not Chevron’s or Shell’s. They just lease it from us and should be, as a result, obliged to provide employment and training for local workers,” he said.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver followed Crumlin by aiming his criticism straight at employment Minister Eric Abetz.
“Abetz has come out today and said won’t go after penalty rates or minimum wage, well excuse my skepticism but I am not likely to believe anything from what is the most anti-worker Government in recent history,” Oliver said.
“This is the Government that said Workchoices was ‘dead, buried, cremated’ yet they what they have and are implementing is just Workchoices by stealth.”
WA Branch Secretary Christy Cain took his turn in his usual firebrand style by telling delegates that it was not only the employers and the Government that were killing the union movement, it was the workers themselves through apathy.
“Apathy and lack of engagement is the single biggest threat to our wages an conditions,” Cain said.
Following a DVD on the life of the late RMT Secretary Bob Crow, current RMT Secretary Steve Todd read out a message from Crow’s wife Nicki.
Following on, both Cain and Crumlin gave impassioned speeches about the Bob Crow and his legacy left for the working classes around the world.
“He was a true champion of the working class,” Crumlin said.
“In our heart we love Bob Crow and he will never be forgotten.”
Dean McGrath from the ILWU talked about what he had learned so far in his visit and what he was going to take home with him.
He talked about how impressed he was with the Women and Youth committee in organising the rally that was held outside of Michaelia Cash’s office on Monday.
Maritime Union of New Zealand Secretary used his speech to talk about the need for internationalism having recently secured an agreement after a long battle with the Port of Auckland.
“Getting the agreement up was partly because of the pressure put on by ITF affiliates, particularly the ILWU and MUA,” Fleetwood said.
He used this to segue into talking about the Maritime International Federation between Indonesia’s KPI, Papua New Guinea’s Maritime and Transport Worker’s Union, the MUA and MUNZ.
“We’ve been around for 150 years and with the MIF we’ll be there for another 150 years,” he said.
Interspersed between the speeches delegates were showing videos that had been produced by the branch.
The one in particular that resonated with the crowd was the touching tale told by Warren Nugent, a Melbourne wharfie who was there when his comrade Anthony Attard died on-the-job.
The day closed on a humorous speech from Liverpool docker Kevin Robinson.