The Federal Government has again shown it is beholden to ideology instead of the discipline of good government by trying to wind back the clock on industrial relations and talk up the shameful strategy of text messages in the middle of the night advising waterfront workers they have been sacked, reminiscent of tactics used during the infamous 1998 Patrick's waterfront dispute.
Last Thursday at midnight without any warning, Hutchison Ports Australia sacked 97 of its 224 workers in Sydney and Brisbane by text and email, telling them not to turn up to work again.
RIGHT: ASU Branches in New South Wales and Queensland have been showing solidarity at the Hutchison Ports pickets
The company is a subsidiary of Hong-Kong based Hutchison Port Holdings, the world's largest port operator, and of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, which made $11 billion AUS in profit in 2014. The company is owned by Li Ka-Shing the 17th richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $27billion.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz told the ABC he considered sacking by text message an 'appropriate methodology'.
With more than 800,000 Australians unemployed for the first time in 20 years, it's telling that the only jobs news out of the Government this week was Employment Minister Eric Abetz channelling Peter Reith with his response to the abominable midnight sackings of waterfront workers. In Senate question time, not only did Senator Abetz refuse to back away from his outrageous stance.
The tactics used by Patrick's – who were backed by Peter Reith and the Howard Government – were widely seen as putting the company on the wrong side of public opinion. Images of a balaclava-clad private security guard at the Hutchison container terminal at sunny Port Botany have been reported this week.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver:
"With more than 800,000 Australians unemployed for the first time in 20 years, workers are right to question why the Abbott Government isn't standing up for local jobs."
"It's clear that Senator Abetz wants to recreate the Peter Reith era of industrial relations and Australians know that means job losses and rights stripped away."
"When are Tony Abbott and Eric Abetz going to stop playing politics and stand up for Australian jobs?"
"If our Employment Minister won't support Australian jobs then he's in the wrong job – we call on the community to send a text to sack Eric Abetz."
UPDATE: 14 AUG 2015: Email bounce back – Hutchison Ports Workers jobs protected
ACTU President Ged Kearney and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin are today meeting with Hutchison Ports Australia workers following the decision last night in the Federal Court to grant an injunction which protects their jobs.
Last Thursday night Hutchison tried to sack 97 of their 224 workers in Sydney and Brisbane by text message and email in a move which sparked a massive backlash from workers, unions and the broader community.
In the Federal Court on Thursday, Justice Rangiah agreed to grant a temporary order based on a lack of consultation by the company with its workforce that will remain in place until a full hearing in the week beginning August 31.