War on the Wharfies Humour


Humour is a sword which can cut our enemies egos down to size.
Satire, ridicule and laughing in the face of your enemies has been used as a weapon by those with less power to challenge those with more power over the course of history. Occasionally, when it finds its mark, it can have a devastating effect.

Why not send me jokes that you think belong on this page. All contributions considered.


QUESTION: Why did Johnny Howard send the SAS troops to the Gulf?

ANSWER: Peter Reith told him that Saddam is a wharfie!

BACKGROUND: The Prime Minister, John Howard, ordered Special Air Service (SAS) troops to the Gulf as part of the US invasion force against Iraq.


QUESTION: What does Peter Reith have up his sleevies?

ANSWER: Armies!

BACKGOUND: The Australian Financial Review reported on Monday 2/3/98 that Peter Reith has "a few things up our sleeve" if the international trade union movement engages in solidarity action in support of the MUA. Serving and former SAS troops were used in Dubai and at Webb Dock. The SAS has frequently used ports for their training exercises in the past.


QUESTION: Who would you trust in a locked room, Peter Reith or a mad dog?

ANSWER: The mad dog - at least its honest!

BACKGROUND: Peter Reith (minister for Industrial Warfare) has consistently and provocatively distorted the truth about: the incomes of wharfies, the purpose of the non-union operation at Webb Dock; and has conspired with employers to provoke industrial conflict and unrest.



Light Bulb Humour

QUESTION: How many wharfies does it take to change a light bulb?


  • One to drive the step ladder,
  • one to apply health and safety policies,
  • one to climb the 20 year old ladder provided by management,
  • and one to pass the new bulb and dispose of the old bulb safely.

BACKGROUND: The waterfront has traditionally been a dangerous area to work in, with many work caused injuries and deaths. The wharfies in the past fought hard to implement a strong safety regime, and a fair hiring policy free from corrupt kickback practices of the employers hiring halls. Current allegations about the efficiency of the waterfront relate more to the age of the equipment being used and management practices rather than the productivity of the waterfront workers.


QUESTION: How many wharfies does the Stevedoring Management want to change a light bulb?

ANSWER: None. But the work needs doing, so they hire one on a casual contract to work with a 20 year old ladder, juggle the bulbs, take all the risks, and ignore safety precautions.

BACKGROUND: The waterfront bosses worldwide are attempting to casualise their workers, reducing incomes, and jeopardising standards of safety. Rather than investing in a technology upgrade for improved efficiency they are trying to reduce working conditions. Some of the equipment at Patrick is over 20 years old. Claims have been made that the NFF training operation is unsafe and may lead to injury or death!


QUESTION: How many Stevedoring Executives does it take to change a light bulb?

ANSWER: Fourteen (but just to make the decision).

  • One to research the light bulb market trends
  • one to inform the stock exchange of the likely impact on shareholders and share price
  • two to do the cost accounting for replacing the light bulb
  • five to attend an expensive live-in management development program for replacing light bulbs
  • two to confer with colleagues interstate on light bulb replacement policy and procedures
  • one to assess the technology for automated lightbulb replacement
  • one to handle the public relations of changing the light bulb, and
  • one to review the entire decision and tell the foreman to organize some workers to change the light bulb.

BACKGROUND: Corporate profits have been booming, and along with them executive salaries and packages. The system is being rorted by executive management, not the workers.



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Last Modified : March 5, 1998