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Bluff wharfies put up overnight picket

Bluff wharfies put up overnight picket to defend permanent local jobs

Bluff waterfront workers, local townspeople and supporters will be picketing at the gates of Southport in Bluff from shortly after midnight, Wednesday 27 August.

Maritime Union Bluff Branch Secretary Ray Fife says the picket is to stop employees of stevedoring company Mainland from working the fishing trawler "Amatal Columbia."

The picket follows major industrial action at Southport in July when members of the Maritime Union (MUNZ) and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) staged joint solidarity pickets against Mainland Stevedores and to improve wages for Southport employed casual workers.

Mr Fife says the stability of small port communities like Bluff is put in jeopardy when here today, gone tomorrow operators like Mainland bring in casual, out of town workforces.

"What we are seeing is the continuing attempt to create a powerless, divided, and casualized workforce, ruled over by the pure greed of companies such as Mainland."

Mr Fife says it is not surprising Mainland is being assisted by Southport, who are putting casual employees to work on the wharf.

"During the strike by casual workers here last month, Southport CEO Mark O'Connor stated to the media that it was only about 'pocket money' for workers anyway."

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says a national conference call of all Union port branches will be held tomorrow, placing the "Amatal Columbia" on a bad employers blacklist, and calling in the assistance of the CTU and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

He says the consequences of casualization in Bluff would mean the destruction of a highly skilled workforce and the collapse of workers wages, with serious implications to the local economy.

"I have no doubt Southport is deliberately encouraging stevedores with casual workforces to undermine the permanent workforce at Bluff as is happening elsewhere."

Mr Hanson says he has advised the Bluff branch that pickets have to operate within the law in order to comply with the terms of the injunction held against the Maritime Union.

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