Takver's Soapbox News Summary
September 98



News Summary - Wednesday 16 September

P&O Nedlloyd to sack 300 British and 30 New Zealand mariners

P&O Nedlloyd has moved to sack 300 British and 30 New Zealand mariners on their ships represented by the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers. They will be replaced by third world, low-paid, slave laboring sailors. This is the plight seaferers face all over the world. Replacing well-paid, national-flag seamen with slave-labor crews is standard practice with shipowners.

The Sailor's Union of the Pacific, based on the west coast of North America, has condemned this action:

Source: Leftlink 15Sep98


News Summary - Sunday 6 September

Non-union loaded ship - "Ever Gloria" - headed for Australia

The next major assault on waterfront workers appears to be Canada. Local 518 is being pushed off the docks via contracting out to non-union outfits. Presently headed for Australia is the ship "Ever Gloria". It is the first "hot" cargo ship to come out of this dispute. The ship was held up for 24 hours in Portland (due to a job action) then loaded and allowed to sail. The "Ever Gloria" is a Panama registered bulker owned by First Steamship of Taiwan.

Thus far 28 ILWU members have been arrested for "illegal picketing".

Many North American dockworkers, unionists, and community activists campaigned in solidarity with the Maritime Union in the recent dispute. The community picket in Los Angeles was highly effective in preventing Australian scab loaded cargo being unloaded from the Columbus Canada. Now it is our turn to demonstrate our solidarity!

For more info see 20 Canadian waterfront workers arrested (26/08/98)

Source: Takver 6Sep98


ACCC settles legal action against MUA

South News, Thursday 3 September

Melbourne: The country's anti-monopoly watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has settled its legal action against the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), paving the way for a final settlement of the waterfront dispute.

The last hurdle for a settlement of the waterfront dispute was crossed yesterday, enabling more than 600 Patrick stevedores to take redundancy packages from Sunday. The ACCC and the Melbourne Ports Corporation refused to withdraw legal action for damages against the union which engaged in lengthy industrial action.

The ACCC, headed by Professor Allan Fels, initiated action under secondary boycott laws on behalf of many small companies hurt when cargo lay idle on the docks. The terms of agreement to settle legal action remain confidential, but the deal is expected to be ratified by the Industrial Relations Commission today. The IRC hearing that was due to formally register an agreement between the MUA and Patrick was postponed yesterday.

Final settlement would ensure that 626 out of the full-time Patrick workforce of 1,400 MUA members formally leave their jobs on Sunday, receiving redundancy payouts funded by the Federal Government.

Up to 100 of these workers would return to Patrick soon after as maintenance workers, resulting in a net loss of 500 full-time jobs. In April, Patrick Stevedores dismissed its union workforce of 1,400 but the wharfies were re-instated after the High Court upheld earlier court orders.

Patrick's workforce was reinstated after the Federal Court ruled there was an arguable case that Patrick and the government had illegally conspired against the workers. Mass community picket action in support of the wharfies played a significant role in the victory for the embattled union workers.

Source: South News 3Sep98

Patrick Stevedores has agreed to bankroll up to $7.5 million to a fund managed by the ACCC in compensation for businesses damaged during the waterfront dispute, as part of the settlement. The Melbourne Ports Corporation has also agreed to drop all litigation against the MUA, union officials and picketers. However, the union agreed to provide an enforceable undertaking that it would not breach for two years the boycott provisions of the Trade Practices Act in relation to its supply of stevedoring to Patrick.

Justice North - the judge who issued the crucial injunction in April that forced Patrick to reinstate the sacked MUA members - said he hoped the Australian waterfront would remain "quiet, efficient and free of industrial disputation. ...I congratulate the parties upon resolution of a most difficult dispute in a way which appears to be creative and innovative".

Meanwhile, the political spin doctors are attempting to rewrite history by alledging it was never the intention of the Government or Patricks to smash the Maritime Union. Both Corrigan and Reith have recently publicly denied that this was their intention. The conspiracy may never be proved in a court of law, but the facts of the conspiracy are for all to read in this website, and its associated links.

The MUA and other unionists will be campaigning over the next few weeks in the Victorian seat of Flinders in an attempt to unseat Peter Reith, the Minister at the center of the conspiracy to smash the Maritime Union. Peter Reith holds the electorate by a margin of 10% - large but not insurmountable.

Source: Financial Review 5Sep98


News Summary - Tuesday 1 September

Hackers subvert Liberal Party website

The Liberal Party website was infiltrated and details and links altered. Some of the alterations included: Several Ministers had links altered to pornographic sites.

The site was shut down Monday night, after the changes were noticed by the Daily Telegraph. All I can say is the new titles seem to fit...anyone have a full list of all the improved Ministerial descriptions?

Source: Australian 2Sep98

North blockaded over Jabiluka Uranium Mine

North Ltd, the parent company to Energy Resources of Australia, was blockaded all day today. During the day news was received that Yvonne Margarula, the senior traditional owner of the Jabiluka lease, had been found guilty by a Northern Territory Court of trespass on her own land.

During the morning peak hour traffic on St Kilda Road was blocked. The vigil had commenced the previous evening, with people camping on the building grounds and the footpath. At 10pm on the Thursday night over 250 people were present. A series of bands entertained the crowd overnight and during Tuesday. Throughout the day the entrance to North's was effectively blockaded with linked arms outside the main entrance and songs and chanting for the Jabiluka mine to be stopped.

Both the Prime Minister, Honest John Howard, and opposition leader, Kim Beazley, had to run a gauntlet of anti-uranium protesters outside radio station 3AW today in Melbourne.

A further blockade of North has been called for Tuesday 15th September at 7am. A rally and march to Stop Jabiluka Uranium Mine is scheduled for Sunday 4 October at 1pm at the State Library Lawns. This rally will be occurring the day after the federal election, to demand from whoever wins government to stop the mine.

Source: Takver 1Sep98

More Information:
24 hour blockade of North Limited
Jabiluka Blockade Website
Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation

Government stacks the board of Telstra

The Government has appointed former National Farmers Federation (NFF) president Donald McGauchie to the board of Telstra. This appointment furthers the anti-union push by Government within Telstra. Donald McGauchie is fresh from his stoush with the Maritime Union as head of P&C Stevedores, which was used to supply non-union labour during the waterfront dispute.

McGauchie backs up the anti-union push by Employee Relations Manager, Rob Cartwright, a former Rio Tinto manager. McGauchie's expertise has been in union bashing and his appointment is highly political and ideological. The appointment was alledgedly for his expertise in rural affairs, however Jim Metcher from the CEPU challenged this saying it was highly provocative in the current industrial climate.

"We call on the Prime Minister to review the position because we believe it will have no way of assisting regional and rural Australia given this man's past experience in industrial relations reforms,"

Source: ABC 31Aug98

Telstra downplays strike action

On Monday and Tuesday staff within the network design and construction area and operator-assisted services walked off the job for 48 hours over pay and working conditons for a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. This followed overtime bans on the weekend plus bans on recall and emergency duty. Telstra downplayed the impact saying while there was some congestion, and that it was able to minimise disruption to customers.

On Friday administrative workers within Telstra, members of the CPSU, were on strike for the day over a new enterprise agreement.

Workers outside Telstra's Sydney HQ (Courtesy:TOA Branch)Throughout this campaign of protected industrial action aimed at achieving a fair EBA with Telstra, the major union, the CEPU, has ensured that the letter of the law has been followed. Nevertheless, Telstra continually threatens the CEPU with legal action and Telstra are obviously monitoring every move the union makes to try and use anything it can against the union.

Telstra are using all the tactics it can - legal intimidation, stand over tactics by supervisory staff, false information to staff, trying to cause divisions, and downplaying union effectiveness.

Meanwhile, Telstra workers and customers will get to exercise their 2 minutes of democracy on October 3, the date of the Federal election. The privatisation of Telstra will be a major issue in the campaign. Use the 2 minutes wisely, because it will be another 2 to 3 years before you again get to choose the lesser of two or more evils...

Election - Telstra in the Spotlight

From Bulletin 63 of the CEPU:

On Sunday, 30th August 1998 the Prime Minister, John Howard made the much anticipated announcement that a Federal Election will be called for 3rd October 1998.

Telstra will be a key issue in the coming Federal Election campaign on at least two counts.

Firstly, what do the political parties and politicians say about the ownership of Telstra, i.e. will they abide by the wishes of the people and halt any further privatisation or not?

Secondly, what is Telstra management going to do to fix the industrial chaos they have created in the company in the lead up to an election that will effectively determine the company's future?


The Government policy of fully privatizing Telstra is highly unpopular. That is why they are now proposing to sell the remaining two thirds a bit at a time. However, they still intend to privatise the lot - its just a matter of when. Peter Costello needs the money to sustain his tax cuts.

The public has already lost out as a result of the one third sale of Telstra. We've lost one third of Telstra's profit - one Billion - and saved nine hundred million in interest on Government Debt. That's a net loss of one hundred million already.

Future generations of Australians will have to pay for these losses in higher taxes or poorer services.


Fresh from the Howard Government's waterfront dispute - the most disastrous raid on decent values in industrial relations and democratic society every witnessed in Australia - there is still more in store for all employees in Peter Reith's legal arsenal.

The Workplace Relations Act itself is to be toughened up, imposing even more restrictions on employees real bargaining power with employers, if the Howard Government is re-elected.

Unions would have to give 14 days' notice about any industrial action their members wanted to take, instead of the current 3 days' notice, under Reith's proposals.

The power of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to protect employees would be wound back even further.

Employers would be even freer to do whatever they wanted to do to make more profit, while ignoring employees rights.

It is tough enough for unions and their members to stay within the existing law and be able to do anything that will get an employer to genuinely bargain.

The Howard Government plans to make this almost impossible with these and other proposed changes to the Workplace Relations Act.

Now is the time to make sure Telstra agrees to a fair EBA so that members' wages entitlements, conditions and rights are protected.

The law as it stands means that we only have one real chance to get it right and get a fair deal. If the law is changed we may not even get this.

CEPU and its members are determined to take whatever action is necessary to ensure we get an EBA that protects all members, no matter what the outcome if the election may be.

Source: CEPU Bulletin 63

More Information
Takver's Soapbox - The Sale of Telstra

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Last Modified : September 16, 1998