The Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia organised a rally on 31 October in support of 1,000 dock workers in Papua New Guinea who have been sacked and replaced with more exploited non-union labour. The sackings were condemned as an act of corporate greed and union-busting by the company ICTSI.
ICTSI recently won the contract for the two largest ports in PNG, and immediately sacked the existing workforce. In order to enhance its status as the world’s fastest growing terminal operator, ICTSI is attacking the working conditions and livelihoods of maritime workers around the world.
Speakers at the rally from the International Transport Workers Federation and the Indonesian dock workers union pointed out that ICTSI has recently started operating in Melbourne and Jakarta as well as in Madagascar, Poland, Georgia and Pakistan.
To remain competitive with ICTSI, every other corporation in the industry is following suit in attacking its workers. Surya from Indonesia spoke of the struggle for a collective agreement against another multinational corporation, Hutchison. After April strike action in Jakarta, union members were denied overtime and forced onto half the pay that non-unionists were getting – an example of a conscious policy by the bosses to try to stop unionisation.
As well as the MUA, members and officials from the CFMEU, CPSU, PSA, Teachers Federation and the USU took part. The rally ended with a solidarity photo to send to PNG. We raised our fists to make the point: it doesn’t matter where the attacks take place, unionists here need to show solidarity.