3 October 2002
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The following is from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM):
PMA Dispute: International Solidarity
Australian Unions join West Coast Picket Lines
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the ICEM-affiliated Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union CFMEU (Mining and Energy) have strongly condemned the recent lockout of US longshore workers on the West Coast of the USA.
Mining and maritime unions pledged their support for US workers, members of the ILWU, at an international conference sponsored by the MUA and the CFMEU in Newcastle on September 19, 2002. The major conference, also attended by ICEM and the International Transport Workers' Federation, ITF, together with a number of affiliated trade unions of both Global Union Federations unanimously adopted a strong declaration of support which, with regard to this dispute states:
"We further pledge our full financial, political and industrial support for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in the dispute with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) in the current struggle for a new contract for members on the West Coast. This support includes an organized international campaign on PMA shipping lines with the view of urging them to reach an agreed contract with the union."
The two Australian unions immediately put these words into action with a joint delegation of a dozen rank and file Australian miners and maritime
workers flying to Los Angeles to join ILWU pickets up and down the West Coast of the United States this week.
US employer group PMA shut the gates on their workforce over the weekend and announced they would keep them locked out again after contract negotiations again stalled.
The dispute is set to have major repercussions worldwide, with delegates to the Congress of the International Transport Workers' Federation in Vancouver in August pledging solidarity with the ILWU. October 2 saw the ITF reacting strongly to the latest news that US employers in the ongoing dispute had brought armed guards to a negotiating meeting the previous day in a serious
escalation of the dispute.
"The decision by the employers to use armed guards during peace negotiations has seriously escalated the West Coast docks dispute. Not only has it forced the ILWU to walk out of the talks organised yesterday by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, it will also provoke an immediate and
wide ranging international response", said ITF General Secretary David Cockroft.
ICEM General Secretary, Fred Higgs, speaking from Washington where he was attending a meeting of ICEM North American affiliated trade unions, pledged full support to the ITF campaign in support of the ILWU and congratulated the Australian unions on their solidarity actions.
More information on the background to the dispute and on-going actions is available at:
International Longshore and Warehouse Union http://www.ilwu.org/
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