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Issue #1598      June 19, 2013

United community picket stands strong

Community members gathered at the gates of the TT Line Tasmanian ferry on Friday in support of four workers sacked by stevedoring contractor Qube.

Qube is owned by infamous stevedoring boss Chris Corrigan and the four workers were sacked for raising safety issues in the workplace.

In the last ten years three employees have been killed at worksites owned by Qube and it predecessor companies in Melbourne, in a workforce of only 250 people.

  • Jeff Gray was killed in June 2003 at Appleton Dock.
  • Peter Ross was killed at Appleton Dock in January 2007.
  • Steven Piper was killed at Appleton Dock in July 2010.

As well, Qube employee Kane Barnett, was crushed on a deck of a TT Line vessel in April 2010, losing his spleen and part of his liver, lung and bowel. He has not worked since and Qube are now looking at terminating him.

These deaths and injuries are on top of another fatality in Brisbane in 2010. This company has also obstructed the National Stevedoring Safety Code of Practice, in an industry where workers are 14 times more likely to die on the job than the average Australian worker.

Qube had previously refused to reinstate the workers after considerable efforts by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) but when the community protestors arrived Qube had a change of heart agreeing to put the four workers back on the payroll subject to meeting the MUA to deal with the facts surrounding the issue.

This example of community and union solidarity is a tremendous example of the power of left and progressive unity in struggles with aggressive employers.

Workers’ issues are community issues and the action shows that the greater the involvement of working men and women from the broader community as well as organised workers in workplaces the better the results will be for workers.

The CPA actively worked to spread the word of the community picket and we look forward to ongoing involvement in struggles supporting workers under siege by aggressive employers.   

Next article – Writing the wrongs of Wadjemup’s past

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