Wharfies Walk Off Job Nationwide To Remember Mate

Waterside workers this morning walked off the job from wharves right across the nation to attend memorial services to coincide with the funeral of wharfie Stephen Piper, killed in a work accident on Appleton Dock in Melbourne on July 14.

Waterside workers this morning walked off the job from wharves right across the nation to attend memorial services to coincide with the funeral of wharfie Stephen Piper,  killed in a work accident on Appleton Dock in Melbourne on July 14.

 

The men and women are remembering the life of Piper, 41, husband and father of two young children, and also the lives of 7 other waterside workers killed on the job in the last 7 years.

 

A funeral service for Piper is being held today at 2pm at the Boyd Chapel, Springvale Cemetery, in Melbourne’s south east and memorial services are being held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Fremantle, Adelaide, Hobart, Port Kembla, Townsville, Newcastle, Darwin and Devonport.  

The services will be attended by workers and their friends and families. Tributes will be made to Stephen Piper and other fallen comrades, reading of a personal letter from wharfie Ash Huish , keynote speakers and wreath laying.

 

The waterfront community is reeling from the loss of three workmates in the last five months after a period of steadily rising mortality rates.       

 

The Maritime Union of Australia’s National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said that wharfies and seafarers were in shock and had asked to see their mate off decently and with respect.

 

“The ceremonies today give them a chance to express their sorrow and show support for the family. As one of our members wrote this week: ‘No family should sit and wait at the end of the working day for a loved one who never returns’ ”, said Crumlin.

 

“Today is a day for mourning rather than chest beating but the deaths and other serious injuries in 2010 represent a crisis in waterfront safety. Grieving workers and their families can take consolation in the determination we have to see that that there is urgent attention given at the highest level of Government and employers to see that our wharves are safe workplaces.

 

“With 3 deaths in 5 months there is fear and doubt in our workforce and their families. It is a small and productive national workforce with very strong bonds between them, and their work is essential to the national interest. We have communicated to Federal and State Governments and stevedoring companies the need for consistent safety guidelines and regulations right across the country. There is a national crisis due to clear safety failings and deficiencies over a long time and any further delay could mean the loss of another life. That is unconscionable.” said Crumlin.