Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MUA members demand safety before profit

(Above: MUA members show a line of the dead)

Around 100 members and supporters of the Adelaide branch of the Maritime Union of Australia demonstrated outside the offices of BusinessSA, the SA affiliate of the national Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on March 26.

They demanded BusinessSA get out of the way of a national stevedoring code of practice which would enshrine health and safety provisions that might put a stop to industrial accidents and deaths in the industry.

(Above: MUA State Secretary Jamie Newlyn addresses the rally)

Since 1990, 17 maritime workers have been killed at work.

Unlike factory workers who go to work at the same site each day, who have had OHS induction, who know the danger spots and the dangerous practices, and who have access to an elected health and safety rep who is familiar with the workplace routines, maritime workers go to a different "factory" virtually every day.

That "factory" is the next foreign ship in port.  Its layout may be different, its loads different, its routines different.  That is why it is dangerous work.

But none of that matters to BusinessSA or the major stevedoring companies.

BusinessSA and ACCI are attempting to remove some of the hatchmen provisions.  Crane operators on building sites are in radio contact with a "dogman" who acts as their eyes and ears.  The hatchman acts in the same capacity on board ships.  The bosses think the position is expendable.

They want the operation of ships' cranes to be exempted from a new cranes code of practice.

They want the proposed National Stevedoring Code of Practice to only have the status of "guidelines", thus removing much of its regulatory powers.

ACCI and BusinessSA are the embodiment of "corporate greed" and they are attacking basic safety conditions on the waterfront by consistently blocking the stevedoring safety code.

Naturally, they had police on hand outside the BusinessSA headquarters to ensure their own health and safety - and denied access to a deputation of MUA members.

Maritime workers have a history of struggle and will be well-supported across the working class.

Solidarity was shown by the presence of several other unions, including the Rail Bus and Tram Union, and the Australian Education Union.


Further reading:  This is another example of capitalist "maggots" who create dead flesh.  See my poem "Maggots" for comment on similar bastards in the construction industry.

Market destroys local jobs

Around 100 members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) and the Association of Newsagents Cooperative Ltd (ANCOL) gathered outside the South Australian parliament to protest against the loss of local jobs to two multinational companies based in Victoria. Members of the Australian Education Union also joined the rally.

The NUW  workers were employed by local stationery supplier KW Wholesale Stationers.  KW Ancol runs a warehouse owned and operated by a cooperative of around 380 independent newsagencies across SA.

For nearly 40 years, the SA government has awarded the contract for stationery supplies to SA public schools to KW Ancol. 

Now, however, under Labor Premier Jay Weatherill’s  “left” leadership, the government has put the contract out to tender.

The cheapest tenders came from two interstate-based multinationals who engage labour through labour hire companies and who undercut the SA award rates paid by KW Ancol.

In the pre-neoliberal days when governments at least paid lip-service to some sort of social function, government tenders were often directed to achieving social goals, such as local employment.

In today’s world, where competition policy rules the roost, and the market determines the outcome of government contract tenders, anyone who can push wages down, casualise labour, and deliver a cheaper service wins the race.

David Garland, from the NUW, said “It is shocking that a Labor Government is contributing directly to the growth of temporary forms of employment by the way they are doing their own business”.

AUE President Correna Haythorpe reported complaints already coming in from schools about the poor quality of service provided by the multinational contractors.

Politicians from all sides expressed support for the local workers and their employer: Family First, the Greens, the Liberal Party, two ALP members of parliament, and an Independent.