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Global unions asked to show support for Australian wharfies in automation dispute

10 Jul 2014

ITF dockers’ unions are being asked to demonstrate their solidarity for workers in the Port of Brisbane, Australia who are facing huge job losses, contracting out, casualisation and a cut in working conditions as a result of automation plans from employer DP World (DPW).

The ITF dockers’ section has already sent a letter to workers on the ground expressing support but as the dispute escalates, a call has gone out to unions to do the same.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is currently in negotiations with global network terminal operator (GNT) DPW over what it has branded ‘slash and burn’ automation plans. The MUA says it is particularly surprised as it was able to reach a workable agreement with GNT Hutchison, which is entering the industry as a third operator in a neighbouring terminal in Brisbane, around operation under the new automated mode

In the letter dockers’ section secretary Sharon James says to workers: “The experience of trade unions in a number of countries has shown that constructive engagement by employers in the introduction of new technologies can bring benefits, and an equitable outcome.  The MUA has also managed to negotiate a sound and viable agreement with Hutchison on operations under their new automated mode.  In the circumstances, one has to question the motives behind the approach taken by DP World.”

She continues: “Please convey to our comrades in Brisbane that ITF dockers’ unions stand united with them in their struggle.  We will face the challenges and embrace the opportunities together and we are determined that automation will not be used as a means to break or reduce the power of unions.  If the time comes, we will mobilise the support of this great union family to their cause.”

Go to the solidarity page to send a letter of solidarity to Brisbane workers now and to get more details on the dispute.

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