Transport Minister Eric Charlton today accused the trade union movement of using thuggery, threats and urban terrorism to scare the transport industry away from the Fremantle waterfront.
"Transport operators who desperately want to enter Patrick's terminal to load or unload goods for their clients have for the past 13 days been subjected to overt and covert fear tactics," Mr Charlton said.
"The trucks are not operating because drivers are petrified of the lengths to which picketing unionists are prepared to go.
"We have evidence of outright thuggery and reports of the manufacture of illegal devices which can be used to disable trucks planning to enter the Patrick's terminal."
Mr Charlton said the public should be aware of the pressures placed upon the transport industry by unionists and sympathisers.
"These trucking operators and drivers are the innocent victims of a trade union movement which is prepared to go to extreme lengths to promote a selfish cause," he said.
"Patrick's is suffering simply because it refuses to succumb to MUA demands and because it refuses to reward workers for inefficiency.
"The waterfront is the only industry in Australia where poor work practices are rewarded and anybody who wants to change that situation becomes the target of mob rule.
"Imagine the same pressures being applied to other industries or businesses in this country - supermarkets, for instance - being told who they can hire and being forced to operate under conditions dictated by unions.
"This dispute is about the free market."
Mr Charlton said he respected the transport industry for its efforts to get containers moving at Patrick's, but when personal safety was put at risk by mob rule their decision to retreat could be understood.
"Many of these drivers are self-employeed family men who rely on contract to move freight to and from Patrick's terminal," he said.
"It must be galling for them to watch other truck operators move freely in and out of the P&O Ports freight terminal at Fremantle simply because that company seemingly poses no threat to the stranglehold of the MUA."
Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333