The Guardian 23 April, 2008
Save Sydney Ferry
campaign goes international
Alan Coté, National President of the Inland Boatmen’s Union and an ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) Executive Board Member was one of the 30-strong ILWU delegation at last week’s Mining and Maritime Conference held in Sydney. IBU/ILWU covers US ferry and tug workers.
During comrade Cote’s visit to Sydney he met with Branch Secretary Warren Smith and MUA members employed on the besieged Sydney Ferries where he pledged his unions’ support.
"No longer can the maritime unions sit back and allow global corporations or bad governments from picking apart our long and hard fought for conditions of employment," he wrote to members on his return. "No longer can the IBU (maritime division of the ILWU) ignore the international labour movement. This is a call for all ferry workers, throughout the world, to unite and fight!"
His letter of solidarity to MUA members stated:
To our comrades at Sydney Ferries:
As President of the Inland Boatmen’s Union, I speak on behalf of the thousands of ferry workers from California, Alaska, and Washington State, workers who share your concern over the threat of privatisation.
Be assured that your struggle will be heard far from Circular Quay. Ferry workers and passengers in San Francisco, Seattle, North Puget Sound, Juneau, Ketchikan and throughout Alaska will be aware of the attempt by the NSW Transport Department to replace a viable and important government service with private owners who will rake in profits at the expense of the worker and the passenger.
No longer can we be content to ignore the battles of our union brethren, no matter how distant they are. As ferry workers we must be united against global maritime companies and large corporations which now dominate our industry which, given the chance, will acquire passenger ferries any where in the world.
If greed becomes the driving force of our industry instead of public service then all will suffer, therefore we must educate our workers and passengers against these threats.
Once a major system such as Sydney Ferry is privatised then it will be a stepping stone for every other public ferry system...we must draw the line, we must fight alongside our comrades at Sydney Ferry. The IBU/ILWU will provide all possible support for this effort.