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Published: 3 Apr 2009
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the first dedicated container ship in Sydney - an event that heralded a new era in shipping which revolutionised world trade.
But containerisation as well as marking the advent of skilled labour on the wharves, also marked a sharp drop in labour.
Within three years the number of waterside workers was halved from more than 20,000 to just over 10,000.
At the time industrial action and negotiations led to pay increases, no compulsory redundancies and superannuation for labour remaining in the industry as well as lump sum payouts for those leaving.
"International container trade in Australia as we know it today began with the arrival of the UK-based 'Encounter Bay' at Balmain Wharf on April 3, 1969," Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi said. This was the beginning of the world's first long-haul containerised freight service.