Friday 22nd Jun, 2018

Supreme Court bans further picketing at Melbourne site

MUA banners. Photo: Jim Wilson
MUA banners. Photo: Jim Wilson

Union representative Luke Hilakari has labelled Australia’s labour laws “some of the most restrictive … of any developed country” after he was banned from picketing at a Melbourne container terminal by the state’s Supreme Court this week.

Hilakari, secretary of the state’s peak union body the Victorian Trades Hall Council, said he was “very disappointed” after the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered he stop blocking Victoria International Container Terminal’s facility at Webb Dock.

The VICT terminal has been closed for nearly a fortnight after Maritime Union of Australia workers walked off the job over the sacking of an employee who was found to not be in possession of a Maritime Security Card.

The union alleges the worker was one of almost two dozen workers found without an MSC, but was the only one sacked, and was the only one who had previously taken VICT to the Fair Work Commission.

The MUA was joined by CFMEU members in its picket of the site, which allegedly included the assault of a truck driver on December 6.

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court judge ordered Hilakari, along with “all persons who were, at any time [since November 27] present at any picket line,” to stay at least 100 metres clear of any VICT access point for any reason apart from doing their jobs, or going about their personal business.

The judge also banned those in question from “advising, causing, inducing, procuring or inciting any person” from picketing the site.

Hilakari vented his frustrations in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed in today’s ruling,” he wrote. “VICT parent company ICTSI is notorious for union busting and extreme anti-worker tactic in developing countries. This is a business model that we don’t need in Australia.”

He called for “effective laws in this country” that would allow workers to “stand together and fight for their rights”.

“Australia has some of the most restrictive labour laws of any developed country,” he continued. “The result is growing poverty, a growing wage gap and a growing number of families struggling to make ends meet.

“VICT are contributing to the problem.

“Our economy is out of balance and we need to change the rules so we can ensure that hard working Australians have secure, safe and well-paying work.”