Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Warning that MUA picketers have put women & children at risk

    15/04/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton warned today that young children and women were being placed at risk by waterside workers picketing on Patrick's property at the Port of Fremantle.


    Mr Charlton said the State Government held fears for the safety of women and children who were encroaching on an industrial workplace, with all its inherent dangers.


    "It seems incredible that waterside workers would take young children and mothers into a volatile situation where trucks and other machinery are entering and leaving as they go about their lawful business," he said.


    "Patricks is an industrial workplace which uses heavy machinery and other equipment and therefore it is no place for people not involved in operations and certainly no place for unauthorised women and children.


    "There is always a risk of something going wrong.


    "I accept that people have the right to protest but I think the MUA should think this one through a little more and find a safer place from which to make its point.


    "The Government will be asking Worksafe to look at the current situation because there is increasing concern that young children are at risk.


    "The actions of the MUA in subjecting women and young children to injury are contrary to the union's religious adherence to safety in the workplace. It is now obvious that the union movement is only interested in safety when it suits."


    Mr Charlton said the Government and the Fremantle Port Authority had a duty to ensure that all port users were able to go about their business in a lawful way and not be intimidated by any group intent on obstructing the operations of the port.


    "I have received an outline summary of major incidents at Patricks terminal over the past seven days and they reveal a pattern of violent behaviour including the use of a baseball bat to smash the window of a bus transporting security personnel, company employees and Patricks' solicitors," he said.


    "The driver of that bus had shards of glass in his right eye from the incident and received medical treatment.


    "All incidents, including the throwing of cups filled with urine at the bus and driver have been carefully recorded and documented for possible future legal proceedings.


    "The summary sheet demonstrates clearly that the unionists have created a volatile and dangerous situation at the Port of Fremantle, yet continue to involve women and young children in the situation."


    Media statement: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333