Two international union bodies have come together for an international Day of Action occurring on wharves around the world.
On July 7, the wharfies from most ports across the country will join an International Day of Action being jointly organised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation and the International Dockworkers’ Council.
In Australia, automation, safety compromises, agreement breaches by employers, irregular shift-work and casualisation continue at unacceptable levels on the waterfront.
In France the supposedly socialist Government was trying to water-down labour protections and smash the 35-hour week. This was met with nation-wide strikes led by wharfies.
An attempt to bring in temporary, casual workers in Lisbon, Portugal resulted in a month-long stoppage in May.
Last year, at Tianjin port, China, 139 people were killed after chemicals were not stored correctly.
Dockers in Poland and Madagascar continue to be attacked and paid poverty wages by stevedoring giant ICTSI.
ITF president and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “This day is a reaction to the fact that attacks on dockers aren’t going away, they’re escalating all the time all over the world. The international dockers’ community isn’t going to stand for poor conditions, automation without union consultation or downgrading of the professional status of dockworkers.”
“This is longshoremen, dockers, wharfies in every corner of the world being clear about that and taking collective action to raise their profile and send a message to employers.”
Maritime Union of Australia Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said wharfies were more than 14-times more likely to die-on-the-job than an average Australian worker, at the same time wharf operators were breaching agreements and trying to use automation as union busting.
“The fact remains being a wharfie is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country but management like to make it out that workers are the problem” Smith said.
“Automation is being rolled out without increased productivity, but as a means to remove union labour.
“As bad developments in Australia are, workers can go to work with the knowledge they won’t be shot for being in a union, or not compensated for being injured, which occurs in ports in the developing world.
“This day is not just about raising our concerns but the concerns of all dockworkers in an act of global solidarity.”