April 9, 1998

Members would be aware that Patrick Stevedores, backed by the Howard Government, yesterday sacked each and every one of its 1400 employees around the nation without notice. Why? Because they are members of a union who have defended their democratic right to organise and bargain collectively.

This dispute has never been about “productivity” or “efficiency” on the waterfront – it’s simply about busting the MUA, and smashing the trade union movement. If we stand by and allow this to happen, the FBEU along with all other unions will not be far behind. Only last year, the Melbourne Age revealed Jeff Kennett’s secret “Plan C” to sack all of the MFB’s 2000 firefighters if they continued resisting management’s “efficiency” push. Don’t think it could never happen to us.

The MUA now has pickets in place at every Patrick dock around the state, and country. On-site full-time elected officials are supervising the MUA protest at each picket.

Accordingly, members are instructed as follows:

  • Respond to the site if called upon to do so, but do not cross official MUA picket-lines for inspections, exercises, AFA’s or similar events under any circumstances;
  • In the event of actual emergency incidents within a picketed site, members should advise the MUA marshal on-site prior to entering. The MUA will not obstruct FBEU members entering a picketed site for a genuine incident.
  • This instruction is to remain in force until further notice.

Chris Read

State Secretary

9th April, 1998