Seafarers thrown on scrapheap
Maritime workers at Woodside Petroleum were told before Christmas they would all be unemployed by February, as the company plans to contract out their jobs to non-union labour. Just two weeks later, the company announced it had made a $940 million profit for the year. Like every capitalist, while the amount they make is important it is not as important as how they can make even more ... and more. This accumulation of wealth, on the backs of the workers takes no account of the amount of social, and environmental destruction that is caused. This is the true face of capitalism. The workers, after making the company millions are then regarded with such little respect that the future of them and their families becomes a matter of no consequence. If a non-union workforce fills the jobs at Woodside, they can expect to be exploited even more than the original unionised workers. The largest shareholder in Woodside is Shell Australia, which currently owns 34 per cent of the company, and is planning to take a controlling interest of 57 per cent. One can't help but wonder whether Woodside's hard line is to show the 17 percent of foreign investors, that Shell is trying to woo in the takeover bid, that they too are capable of making the "hard decisions" that will continue to return them massive profits from their investments. Threat to other seafarers It would seem that if Woodside is successful in its attempts to nullify the existing agreement with the MUA, then the jobs of all seafarers and indeed all workers within the industry will be under threat. BHP's court victory in their attempts to deunionise the mining industry and enforce non-union individual contracts also hangs above the head of the workers in the maritime industry. It will be imperative that the union and all its members show the unity and determination witnessed during the Patrick's dispute in 1998 in the further struggle that will inevitably have to be fought in 2001.
* * *Acknowledgements: Maritime Bulletin