Call for police action on Webb Dock picket

Two court orders have been made against the picket at Webb Dock at the Port of Melbourne (image is of the Port of Melbourne) Two court orders have been made against the picket at Webb Dock at the Port of Melbourne (image is of the Port of Melbourne)

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has called for police to enforce the Supreme Court of Victoria’s orders and ensure that legitimate business activities can resume at the Port of Melbourne in Australia. Port operations are being hampered by a union members’ blockade.

ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff said that two court orders had now been made against the picket at Webb Dock, where Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) is located, with protestors having ample chance to adhere to those directives.

If picketers do not, Mr Kilgariff said, police should take action to enforce the law and remove the blockade urgently.

“If a group of protestors engaged in illegal conduct by invading the Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch during the Boxing Day Test or blockaded the government offices in Treasury Place, preventing the transaction of government business, police action to remove them would follow swiftly – and rightly so,” he said.

“Freight logistics businesses operating at Webb Dock are entitled to exactly the same protection.”

The managing director also said that the ALC was renewing its calls for the Australian government to urgently process legislation to hold a public interest test for the proposed merger of Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) – two of the companies involved in the dispute.

Two orders made

Strike action at the terminal began after a casual worker on Webb Dock, who was an MUA member, had their employment terminated due to not having mandatory clearance – though the MUA argued that the employee was targeted for being a union member.

The MUA was previously ordered to end the picket by staying 100 metres from the site of the dispute, leading to the CFMEU and the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), a representative body of trade union organisations in Victoria, stepping in.

Consequently, Victoria Supreme Court Justice Michael McDonald extended the previous order, after finding a strong inference that the MUA had outsourced the endeavour of maintaining an illegal picket to other unions, coordinated by the VTHC.

He ordered the MUA, the CFMEU and the VTHC secretary Luke Hilakari to stay 100 metres from the site of the dispute and allow free passage at the port until a future trial after the VICT sought orders to end the blockade from the court.

VICT is suing the MUA for economic loss and damages incurred from the picket, which began on November 27 and has blocked truck access, leaving 1,000 shipping containers stranded.

VICT have claimed that trucks stopped trying to enter the terminal after a driver had his teeth knocked out on December 2, though MUA representatives questioned the assault’s veracity.

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