Back to the future

September 10, 2006

The Maritime Union of Australia has written to the FBEU inviting the hundreds of firies who joined the picket lines at Port Botany to appear as extra’s in re-enactment scenes for a mini-series about the 1998 ‘Patricks/MUA’ dispute.The mini-series with an $8 million budget will star Jack Thompson and Colin Friels and is aimed at recreating a moment in history when Government and big business conspired to drive Unions off the waterfront using scabs, mercenaries and vicious guard dogs. With the full support of the Howard Government and the financial support of Australia’s ruling elite a Union no bigger than ours was dragged through the courts, vilified in the media and was issued court orders that no official was to set foot near the wharves.

The entire Australian Union movement came together to back the MUA with tens of thousands of people joining community pickets across the country and holding out until the High Court of Australia ruled against the company. The court ruled that it was illegal for the CEO of the Patrick Corporation –Chris Corrigan to split Patricks into a number of subsidiaries, one with the employees and one with the assets. Bankrupt the subsidiary employing the workers while walking away with the assets.

Now eight years later the media has revealed that Chris Corrigan is under investigation for insider trading after he sold Patrick Corporation to another company and pocketed an $11.7 million termination payment, on top of the $150 million he was offered for his Patrick stake! Ties between our Union and the MUA go back a long way including –when in the 1950’s we were officially deregistered the MUA held our Union together through free office space and financial support. Our Union stepped into the breach in 1998 and helped run the Port Botany pickets when MUA officials were threatened with jail if the appeared on the picket lines.

With the mini-series due to screen in the run up to the Federal election next year it is important that as many firies as possible attend and celebrate our Union movements successes, catch up with comrades and help tell the Australian public why Howard and his Union busting perversion must be stopped. Members should wear tunics, Union T-Shirts or anything else that identifies us as FBEU members.

On Saturday 16 September from 1:30 pm Lunch and drinks will be provided

Parking is available at the docks and will be off Penrhyn Road Port Botany. This is a good opportunity for crews to car pool down to Botany and make sure our contribution to the labour movement is broader than just our own wages and conditions.


Simon Flynn

State Secretary



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