Coming out of months of lockdown, with a nation in distress from the tragedies of COVID, and trying to shake off our economic troubles, what we really don’t need is an aggressive round of nationwide strikes designed to sabotage our Christmas.
But that’s just what your unfriendly and uncaring Maritime Union of Australia has done.
There are in excess of 200 industrial actions planned. There are a series of rolling bans and stoppages at terminals in Sydney, Fremantle, Melbourne and Brisbane. There will be strikes in various parts of the country every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in October and other impacts elsewhere.
Patrick Terminals CEO Michael Jovicic said: “The MUA is clearly embarking on a major pre-Christmas industrial campaign. The MUA’s actions are frankly bewildering. It seems to have completely lost the plot. This blatantly aggressive strike action demonstrates that it has no regard for the suffering of everyday Australians who have felt the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, job losses and restrictions over the past 18 months. It seems that the union is trying to starve the… public of Christmas presents… it is truly mind-boggling.”
Such strikes affect third parties who have nothing to do with the dispute, such as shipping lines, importers and exporters. Shipping lines will be very hard hit as the one day cost of a ship (not including fuel) is currently about AUD$143,000 to AUD$165,000 A DAY.
And there will be days and days and days of delay. The costs, and the effects of delay, will be felt right across the supply chain in ports, in terminals, in trucking, in warehousing, and in retail.
And it will be felt by you.
How it will affect you and your family
So, how exactly does this affect you and your family?
Well, about 35 million tonnes of general cargo are imported and exported every year. Most of this will be contained in the eight million or so containers that are handled in Australia every year.
Let’s have a look at what’s typically in our boxes:
- 22% of all of our boxes are full of furniture and household items of all kinds
- 5% – clothing and footwear
- 17% – food and beverage items
- 5% – medical supplies
- 18% – electrical goods
- 30% – industrial and construction items
- 3% – everything else
These goods are the kind of stuff that you want but the union won’t let you have.
The union couldn’t care less if your Christmas is ruined. It couldn’t care less if you can’t get toys and presents for your kids. It couldn’t care less if you can’t buy nice new clothes for your partner. It couldn’t care less if you can’t buy any of your cultural foodstuffs, or Christmas foodstuffs.
Christmas is important, of course it is. But even more important is your health. Look at the list above, it includes medical supplies. The union couldn’t care less if you can’t get your medical supplies. The union couldn’t care less if you stay in good health.
The union couldn’t care less about you.
Maritime union won’t let you replace your car
And it’s not just about Christmas either. Do you live in Western Australia? Do you want a nice, shiny new car? Well, you can’t have one. The union won’t let you have one. It is in dispute with the companies that unload cars and it is taking strike action. So it’s turning its dispute into your problem.
Just over one million cars are sold each year in Australia. There’s a cascading effect as purchases of new cars displace old cars and that leads to about three million used car sales in Australia each year.
Buying stuff helps Australia and helps Australians. Think of all that happiness generated when people buy four million cars. Think of all that economic activity, jobs secured and taxes paid when people buy four million cars. Think of all the economic activity generated by Christmas. All those truck drivers and warehouse people who are employed to move Christmas goods. Think of all those taxes paid which are used to fund vital services such as health and fire defence.
Not that the union cares. It couldn’t care less. It couldn’t care less about your family. It couldn’t care less about you.
Why? Why is the union punishing Australian families this way, right before Christmas? Why?
Benefits that maritime union members got while you were in lock-down
This is not about workers’ rights. Wharfies are hardly downtrodden, repressed, starving little waifs being sent up the chimney by sinister mustache-twirling villains.
Last year (during last years’ strikes!) the average permanent employee who was a wharfie was earning about AUD$155,000 a year, with the top earners receiving more than AUD$200,000 a year. The wharfies were also offered guaranteed pay rises of 1.5% and 2.5%.
Think about what happened to you and your family during the lockdown.
- Were you continuously employed throughout the lockdown, like the MUA members were?
- Were you paid AUD$150,000 throughout the lockdown, like the MUA members were?
- Were you given the chance of earning up to AUD$200,000, like the MUA members were?
- Were you offered a guaranteed pay rise of 1.5% to 2.5%, like the MUA members were?
And, if not, how does that make you feel now that the union has decided that it won’t let you have a nice Christmas?
It’s time for action. It’s time the Federal Government stepped in and had these callous, reckless and, frankly, dangerous strikes terminated. It’s got the power to approach the courts to do so.
And, after that, it’s time for a good long and hard look at the waterfront to ensure that the unions can’t ever punish Australians in this way ever again.