Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Reform process on WA waterfront will not be deterred by past disturbance

    21/04/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today the reform process on the Western Australian waterfront would be continued with even greater resolve following the events on the Fremantle waterfront over the past fortnight.


    "The State Government has been working diligently for the past 18 months to establish an environment at regional ports where the worker deals directly with the employer," Mr Charlton said.


    "We intend to ensure more and more participation right across the waterfront on the basis that there is a guarantee of continuity of operation and that the needs of the port user are a major focus.


    "At Esperance, for instance three-quarters of the workforce have negotiated formal agreements directly with the port management and in doing so have guaranteed to the users of that port a more productive future."


    Mr Charlton said port authority boards around Western Australia recognised the need for reform and major change was on the way.


    "The events on Fremantle waterfront have illustrated the extreme lengths to which the MUA and other trade union bosses will go to preserve the closed shop arrangement which has rorted the system for so long," he said.


    "We have seen thuggery and a complete disregard for the law prevail on the Fremantle docks and around Australia but that will not deter the State Government from continuing the process of change.


    "The MUA has tried to project itself as a meek and peaceful organisation but the question has to be asked - why were 500 police officers needed to make sure people could go about their lawful business?


    "The past fortnight has shown every Western Australian that violence and intimidation are the natural tools of the MUA.


    "We started the reform procedure long before the latest turmoil at Fremantle and we will not be intimidated into changing our direction."


    Mr Charlton said the MUA and the trade union protesters at Fremantle showed selective adherance to court orders.


    "Union protesters ignored and met with violence, every court injunction calling on them to allow lawful access to containers and other goods sitting idle on the waterfront." he said.


    "But when the MUA was granted a court order for Patricks to reinstate workers the protesters expected the law to be obeyed immediately.


    "Public sympathy was not with the MUA and the protesters at the end of the day and its long-term cause has been irrepairably damaged."


    Media Contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333