Community protest takes on labour rights abuser on Melbourne’s waterfont

Webb Dock
Contributed by Joe Montero

Trouble is building up on Melbourne’s Web Dock. A community protest is taking place there over the involvement of the multinational giant stevedoring company International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) in the abuse of employees through ongoing bullying and harassment.

A community protest is taking place at the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), which is a subsiduary of ICTSU.

The catalyst has been the denial of shifts to a casual employee. The argument provided by the employer is that he does not have a current Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC). But it is alleged that the real reason for the denial of work is that he is an active member of the maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

Backing this is that 21 others not having an MSIC are currently working on the dock and employed by the same company.

“So it’s no surprise that the tight-knit Port Melbourne community has decided to stand up and defend this worker, as have other members of the broader community and other unions,” said MUA Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey.

He also said: “The Port Melbourne community has decided to take a stand against a company with an atrocious labour record around the globe that should not be allowed to operate in this country.

“We even have ICTSI global chief executive Enrique K Razon on the record saying: ‘The countries with the best infrastructure in the world are dictatorships – a statement that speaks volumes about this company’s leadership and its regard for unions and workers.”

Last month, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) launched a global report into ICTSI, which showed a pattern of severe safety deficiencies across the Philippine-based company’s network of terminals.

VICT is trying to push through a workplace agreement that has been signed by only five employees and slashes penalty rates and casual loading. Meanwhile, the MUA has been battling to maintain wages and conditions.

The employer has refused to negotiate with the union.

The ITF report adds: “The ITF, and our union affiliates, have observed an emerging pattern of labour violations in the ICTSI network: a failure to respect the right to freedom of association; poor safety standards; and illegal outsourcing of labour.

“Many of these violations are in breach of domestic law in the countries where ITCSI operates and contravene international labour conventions.

“They also contravene ICTSI’s own policies and statements, and call into question the company’s ability to effectively manage their global business and ensure the same standards and performance across all of their terminals.”

Fair Work Australia has ordered the MUA not to engage in industrial action on Webb Dock.

The community protest, which is restricting the movement of goods on and off the dock,  is continuing to build and attracting an increasing number of supporters.


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