MUA and Community Picket Line
East Swanson Dock 18-20 April 1998


Picture: Banner on Gates at East Swanson Dock Picket
A Banner on the Main Gate of Patrick Stevedores East Swanson Dock in Melbourne.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 4.30am 18 April
4.30am 18 April. Awaiting news of police movements, people at East Swanson Dock take up position around 4.00am. Between 3,000 to 5,000 people formed linked lines in front of the Number one gate of Patricks. At around 4.45am, a police helicopter circles continually, shining a spot light on the crowd. Firefighters douse the fires which had been burning in drums, to ensure maximum smoke to obscure the details able to be discerned by the observers in the helicopter.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 5.30am 18 April
5.30am 18 April. At 5.15am hundreds of police are lined up in front of the picketers. A Police Inspector reads a notice that everyone is tresspassing, and requests that we disperse in the following half hour. No one leaves. Every person is prepared to be arrested and carried away if need be.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 6.30am 18 April
6.30am 18 April. Dawn breaks over the high rise office towers of Melbourne to the east of us. The confrontation between police lines and picketers continues. The initial tension has subsided somewhat with the growing light.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 7.30am 18 April
7.30am 18 April. With the light of dawn, people maintain their positions. A union official maintains a constant commentary on the positions of the police, our rights when arrested, how to behave when arrested. People chant to the police "Go Home" and "Join Us". When word comes that some police have removed their badge numbers, the chant goes up "Show us your badges, show us your badges". In between times the crowd roars out "MUA Here to stay".

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 7.30am 18 April
7.30am 18 April. Part of the determined crowd, at dawn, facing off the Victorian Police. Unbeknown to most of us, police had split their forces and had busted the 50 odd person picket at a side entrance, with one woman being injured and requiring an ambulance in the melee.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 7.50am 18 April
7.50am 18 April. 2,000 construction workers, who had been forming up in Footscay Road, march down to the picket surrounding the lines of police present. Their arrival eased the tension of the picketers, but no doubt gave the police an awful fright. The police were allowed to form up into lines and march out through the crowd unharmed. This is a measure of the amount of commitment to the discipline of creative non-violent resistance which the union has used on the picket line.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 8.30am 18 April
8.30am 18 April. Patrick security goons guarding the Patrick scabs. Dressed in black, with their dobermans and alsation attack dogs.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 9.30am 18 April
9.30am 18 April. Police confer with one of the duty picket officials, as picketers sweep the road and clean up the area of the nights coffee cups and cigarette butts and other accumulated rubbish.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 10.30am 18 April
10.30am 18 April. People milling on the approach road to the main picket at Patrick No 1 Gate.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 8.00am 20 April
8.00am 20 April. Old railway lines, a Patrick minibus with tyres all deflated. These formed part of "The Barricade" - a living sculpture. A community Art Project! The positioning of these obstacles would prevent a long or articulated vehicle to reach the gates, while allowing vehicles as large as an ambulance to get through.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 8.30am 20 April
8.30am 20 April. A container trailer tipped on its side was a further obstacle. Many children have attended the picket, although organisers emphasise that they should be kept away from any confrontation situation, as happened on a picket line in Sydney.

Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 8.30am 20 April
8.30am 20 April. The picket line endures rain on a Monday morning.

For another report of the picket line on Saturday 18th April, please see the report by Malcolm Farnsworth, also on this site. Details of the commitment to creative nonviolence as a strategy can be found in the News Summary of 20th April 1998.

Picture: Memorial to Fred Brock on Patrick Gates, East Swanson Dock.This page is dedicated to Fred Brock, a retired wharfie, who died while in Japan. Fred campaigned on behalf of the Maritime union with Japanese dock workers. The early pledge of support from the Japanese dockers for the Maritime Union against the conspiratorial attacks of the Government, National Farmers Federation, and Patrick can be traced to Fred's presence. He will be remembered by not only his family and mates on the Australian waterfront, but also internationally - in Japan by the dockers where he died, and by all his comrades on the picket line.
Picture: East Swanson Dock Picket 8.30am 20 April
8.30am 20 April. The picket line endures another practice session.


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Last Modified : April 30, 1998