Australian Waterfront Safety Rallies


JOIN our nationwide rallies opposing the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) who are leading the charge against waterfront safety, said the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) on Friday.

The MUA and concerned members of the community will rally on Tuesday 26 March to demand a National Stevedoring Code Of Practice and oppose ACCIs profit before life view of the world.

Flyers advertising the rallies say: Fight for your life. Sign for your life.

Big business lobbyists are continuing to block key safety provisions in our stevedoring code of practice.

We need you to back the MUA’s submission for a strong stevedoring safety code (NSCOP) by supporting our submission to Safe Work Australia.

Fight for your life – NO more fatalities! The highest safety standards possible must be implemented on the waterfront.

United we stand so that no more wharfies die at work. We are fighting for basic human values – Life before profit, families and society before corporate greed.

The MUA will be seeking your support for our submission process, kicking off after Easter.

Join our nationwide rallies opposing the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry who are leading the charge against waterfront safety.

The MUA and concerned members of the community will rally on Tuesday 26 March to demand a National Stevedoring Code of Practice and oppose ACCIs profit before life view.

Meanwhile, Australian unions, fair trade advocates and environmentalist gathered on Friday in front of the Sydney offices of the World Bank at noon to protest at the Bank’s affiliation with the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The ICSID is a tribunal that hears corporate lawsuits seeking to bypass national courts, laws and regulations setting local standards for health, human rights and the environment.

Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union said: ‘The World Bank turns its back on its responsibilities when it assists corporations to sue some of the poorest people in the world for millions of dollars.

‘This is an example yet again of the needs of greedy billionaires riding roughshod over the needs of working people, the environment and wider community needs.

‘I am proud to give my support to today’s protest, and I call on the new president of the World Bank, Dr Jim Yong Kim, to put human rights and democracy before private greed, and to end the Bank’s ties with the ICSID.’

Dr Patricia Ranald, convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, Ltd compared the ICSID process with the one Philip Morris is using to sue Australia for billions of dollars claiming future loss of profits from Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws.

Dr Ranald stated: ‘Companies like Philip Morris are gaming the system.

‘Public opposition ensured there was no investor state provision in the bi-lateral trade agreement between the US and Australia.

‘That’s why US-based company Philip Morris moved into Hong Kong to sue Australia under an obscure investment agreement with Hong Kong. Clearly, corporations are using these trade agreements to blackmail countries seeking to protect their own citizens.’

Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said: ‘Australia should stop funding the World Bank if it won’t cut ties to ICSID.

‘Australia has smartened up and stopped signing trade agreements with investor state arbitration clauses.

‘We should also drop our membership in ICSID. It’s a matter of principle.’

Cam Walker, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Australia, said: ‘The World Bank’s ICSID is allowing the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim to sue El Salvador for refusing to issue a permit to use cyanide and arsenic to mine gold in the headwaters of a river supplying the majority of its population with drinking water.

‘And the United Nations reports that el Salvador has the most vulnerable environment in the world. How does the World Bank see this as helping to alleviate poverty or promote sustainable development?’

l The Maritime Union of New Zealand has raised concerns about the dangers of toxic gases in shipping containers, following information contained in an official report that was withheld from the public.

Responding to coverage in the Wellingtonian newspaper, the union said that the report showed massive safety risks around toxic gases in shipping containers, which exposed workers to danger every day.

The official report, from May 2012, had been based on samples taken from more than 500 containers that arrived at the Port of Tauranga.

It showed that levels of toxins were present in most containers, and that one in five containers were not safe.

The union has been concerned for some time that the use of the pesticide methyl bromide in containers – one of five gases the report found to be above safe working levels – could be linked to motor neurone disease.

The union called for a full safety audit for containers, and better health and safety planning that involved unions and workers on the ground.

l There is a safety crisis in the Australian road transport industry and on our roads that is seeing families across the country lose their loved ones in major retailer’s war on prices, warns the TWU.

Each year 330 people are killed in truck crashes and everyday hard working Australian truckies are being squeezed for every dollar and every minute, just to meet unrealistic deadlines and struggle to put food on the table for their families.

With one in three trucks carting for retail, the facts are that giant retailers, like Coles, are directly contributing to the safety crisis on our roads and in Australia’s road transport industry that gives it a workplace fatality rate ten times that of Australia’s industrial average.

Preliminary results from the Safe Rates Survey 2012 already show that 85 per cent of truckies surveyed believe that economic and deadline pressure from big retail clients, like Coles, is the major cause of unsafe practices in the industry.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of thousands of TWU members and supporters from the last twenty years, the Australian government passed the Road Safety Remuneration Act in March 2012.

As a result of this, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has opened. The Tribunal is the first of its kind in the world and will provide a valuable tool in the fight for better safety and conditions for truckies across the country.

In preparation for the first cases at the beginning of 2013, the TWU made two submissions to the Tribunal calling on it to focus on big retail clients, like Coles, who use their huge market power to push trucking companies and drivers to their limits by driving down the cost of contracts and setting impossible delivery deadlines.

Truckies carry Australia – they make sure our economy stays strong, and big retailers like Coles need to stop squeezing them for every dollar and minute and start taking responsibility for the safety of every driver in their supply chain.