The Australian Waterfront

Australian waterfront union shuts down industrial action at Patrick Terminals

By Patrick Davies, 2 October 2020

The Maritime Union of Australia is determined to contain and isolate the dispute while signalling its willingness to negotiate and impose company demands.

Patrick Stevedores threatens to lock out Australian port workers

By Terry Cook, 13 May 2016

Amid the campaign for Australia’s July 2 federal election, the major waterfront company has declared it will lock out workers in four states if they take further industrial action.

Australian union escalates nationalist campaign over shipping layoffs

By Oscar Grenfell, 19 February 2016

The Maritime Union of Australia is seeking to divide workers along national lines and obscure its own role in facilitating the job destruction.

Australian industrial court bans port strikes

By Oscar Grenfell, 23 January 2016

The ruling will likely be invoked by the union to strike a backroom deal with the port company.

Hutchison worker: “The union delivered the job cuts the company wanted”

18 November 2015

One sacked Hutchison worker who attended the Brisbane mass meeting on Monday spoke with the World Socialist Web Site. He said that although there was “almost unanimous” vote for union-company deal “there were a lot of concerns about the end results.

Amid moves to sell-out Hutchison workers, Maritime Union of Australia threatens WSWS

By James Cogan, 14 October 2015

The MUA’s main fear is that the alternative perspective provided by the WSWS has won an audience among waterfront workers.

Australian maritime union moves to sell out Hutchison dispute

By Mike Head, 7 October 2015

Under the MUA agreement, all Hutchison workers will be required to work for half pay, or less.

Australian waterside workers “in the dark” as union negotiates job cuts with Hutchison

By Richard Phillips, 9 September 2015

“All sorts of people control our destinies—everybody except us,” sacked Hutchison wharfie.

Maritime Union of Australia thanks pseudo-lefts for “unity” as it foreshadows acceptance of port sackings

By Oscar Grenfell, 4 September 2015

The union will work with the company to enforce job cuts, and an “orderly closure.”

Australia: Hutchison Ports dispute at the crossroads

the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 29 August 2015

Left in the hands of the MUA, the outcome is a foregone conclusion: the further destruction of the jobs and conditions of waterfront workers.

Australian maritime union in talks with Hutchison to impose cost-cutting

By Mike Head, 18 August 2015

The MUA celebrated the “pleasing” fact that Hutchison agreed to hold “formal talks” on how to cut jobs and conditions.

Australian wharfies voice concerns about MUA sellout of Hutchison strike

By our reporters, 17 August 2015

In a move that directly mirrored its betrayal of the 1998 waterfront dispute, the union shut down the strike after obtaining a court ruling that left the sacked wharfies outside the company gates.

Sacked Hutchison workers barred entry after Australian union sells out strike

By Richard Phillips, 15 August 2015

The court ruling gave the union precisely what it wanted: to shut down the strike and demobilise workers, while it manoeuvres for a negotiated job-cutting deal.

Australia: Union officials force SEP supporters off Sydney dock picket

By Zac Hambides, 15 August 2015

The unions are trying to silence criticism because they cannot answer the truth—they are carrying out a betrayal of the Hutchison workers.

Australian waterfront union betrays Hutchison strike

By Mike Head, 14 August 2015

While claiming a “victory,” as it did in 1998, the MUA is sending the Hutchison Ports workers back to work today, with many to lose their jobs.

Australian dock union goes to court to seek deal on Hutchison sackings

By Mike Head, 13 August 2015

The MUA’s move is similar to its legal manoeuvre in the union’s historic sellout of the 1998 waterfront dispute.

Hutchison Ports’ sackings in Australia and the global restructuring of the docks

By Mike Head, 12 August 2015

Hutchison is rolling out remotely-controlled automated terminals around the world, ruthlessly destroying jobs and conditions.

Port Botany and Brisbane workers oppose Hutchison’s mass sackings

By our reporters, 11 August 2015

Striking workers at Hutchison container terminals in Sydney and Brisbane spoke to the World Socialist Web Site about the job cuts by the multi-million dollar corporation and the dangers now facing the working class.

Hutchison workers continue strike as Australian union calls for “negotiated” job cuts

By Richard Phillips, 11 August 2015

The MUA has responded to an industrial commission return-to-work directive by denying it has any involvement in the waterfront walkout.

Sacked Hutchison workers speak out

By our reporters, 10 August 2015

World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke with sacked Hutchison Port Australia workers at Sydney’s Port Botany terminal over the past two days. Workers described Hutchison’s high-productivity regime and how the company lured workers from various stevedoring companies, as well as airline, manufacturing and logistics businesses, promising them long-term employment.

Hutchison Australia waterfront workers continue strike action

By Richard Phillips, 10 August 2015

No faith can be placed in the union, which has collaborated with waterfront companies for decades in restructuring that has destroyed thousands of jobs.

Hutchison Ports axes half its Australian workforce

By Richard Phillips, 8 August 2015

The maritime union has appealed to the global stevedoring corporation for negotiations on its multi-million dollar cost-cutting plans.

Australian waterfront workers denounce job cuts

By our reporters, 8 August 2015

World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke with wharfies and waterfront maintenance workers at a protest outside Hutchison’s Port Botany container terminal in Sydney yesterday. It followed the late-night sacking almost 100 HPH employees nationally.

Australia: State government privatises key port operations

By Terry Cook, 8 July 2013

The New South Wales government is stepping up its sale of state-owned assets, including the Newcastle port.

Union prepares to sell out Western Australian port dispute

By Terry Cook and Joe Lopez, 24 October 2012

The unsafe conditions on the waterfront are the legacy of decades of union betrayals.

Australian waterfront union capitulates, calling off industrial action

By Patrick O’Connor, 28 May 2011

The MUA’s capitulation underscores its determination to entrench itself as the enforcer of restructuring measures and productivity speed-ups on the docks.

Australia: Maritime union promotes nationalism in CSL Yarra dispute

By Terry Cook, 15 May 2002

Nine Australian seamen are continuing an occupation of the bulk cargo ship CSL Yarra in Port Pirie, South Australia, in defiance of a company order instructing them to leave. The seamen began the occupation on May 2 and Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) is now seeking a Supreme Court injunction to have them removed, accusing them of “acts tantamount to piracy”.

Maritime Union of Australia determined to impose job cuts

By Terry Cook, 5 June 1999

The Maritime Union of Australia is stepping up its efforts to push through a new job-cutting agreement on the waterfront after failing to ram it through a marathon membership meeting at the P&O Ports West Swanson container terminal in Melbourne.

12 months on

What was the "victory" on the Australian waterfront?

By Terry Cook, 13 April 1999

This week marks 12 months since Patrick Stevedoring, Australia's second largest stevedoring company, sacked its entire 1,427 strong workforce and replaced it with scab labour recruited by the National Farmers Federation.

Australian waterfront workers face further job cuts

By Terry Cook, 21 January 1999

Australia's largest stevedoring company, P & O Ports, is demanding the elimination of 520 jobs from its 1,300-strong national workforce, together with sweeping changes in working conditions. According to union officials the job cuts at the company's Sydney terminal at Port Botany, the second biggest in the country, will far exceed 40 percent.

Jobs and conditions destroyed on Australian waterfront

Maritime union deal aids Howard government

By Terry Cook, 25 June 1998

There were few surprises in the final agreement struck between the Maritime Union of Australia and Patrick Stevedoring to end the waterfront dispute that erupted on April 7 when the company sacked its entire workforce.

The Australian waterfront conflict: a political assessment

Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 14 May 1998

The ongoing conflict over the sacking of 2,000 Australian waterfront workers has brought to the surface the deep-seated crisis of political perspective in the workers' movement.

The Australian waterfront conflict

How Labor's privatisation handed docks to Patrick's

By Mike Head, 7 May 1998

One revealing historical feature of the conflict generated by Patrick's Stevedores' mass sacking of Australian waterfront workers has barely been mentioned by the media, and certainly not by the union leaders.

Struggle on the Australian docks

The real meaning of the MUA's "victory"

Labor Party and union leaders prepare waterfront betrayal

the SEP of Australia, 25 April 1998

Whatever the final outcome of the complex legal manoeuvres in the Federal and High Courts, the so-called "victory" proclaimed by the Maritime Union of Australia is a gross betrayal of waterfront workers and workers around the country who have backed their struggle against the Patrick's mass sackings.

Australian unions gave green light to waterfront sackings

How the ACTU stopped action by oil workers

By Terry Cook, 23 April 1998

Fresh information has come to hand revealing that at a top-level meeting on April 3, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) leaders furiously denounced and threatened oil union representatives for announcing that their members had decided to strike if waterside workers were sacked.


The waterfront war: why is only one side fighting?

the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 11 April 1998

The following statement has been issued as a leaflet by the Socialist Equality Party in Australia. Just three days after the Howard government and Patrick's, one of Australia's largest waterfront employers, sacked over 2,000 dock workers, scab contractors are already loading and unloading ships at many of the company's 17 terminals.

How the unions paved the way for Patrick's attack

By our reporter, 9 April 1998

The Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Maritime Union of Australia have paved the way for today's assault on waterside workers, both in the long-term and the short-term.

Scabs begin training on Australian waterfront

By Terry Cook, 27 February 1998

Encouraged by the acquiescence of the trade union movement, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) has successfully begun training a strike-breaking force of scabs at Melbourne's Webb Dock, in the middle of Australia's largest industrial port.

Employers seek to smash conditions on Australian waterfront

By Terry Cook, 12 February 1998

Backed and financed by Australia's major employers, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) has launched a full-scale offensive at Melbourne's Webb Dock in a bid to shatter working conditions on the waterfront.