MARITIME UNION OF AUSTRALIA
PRESIDENT and DOCKERS SECTION CHAIR
INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDERATION
8 JUNE 2023
STATEMENT ON PACIFIC MARITIME ASSOCIATION NEGOTIATIONS IN CALIFORNIA
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) stands in solidarity with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on the West Coast of the United States as they negotiate with intransigent and uncooperative employer representatives from the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
Like all international transport companies, the PMA represents businesses and shareholders who were the accidental and unexpected beneficiaries of the global pandemic. During COVID, PMA member carriers and terminals banked windfall profits of $510 billion, all delivered by the work of dockers and transport workers who’ve been denied a fair pay rise. In some cases, profits jumped by 1000%.
Like in Australia, ILWU members on the US West Coast are facing the social and economic impact of spiraling inflation – driven entirely by massive company profits rather than workers’ wages growth – while simultaneously being denied a pay rise from the employer and having their right to collectively bargain undermined by tactics to delay and derail good faith negotiations.
The MUA calls on all shipping and stevedoring companies worldwide to deliver wage increases that not only keep pace with inflation but which recognise the link between their workers’ labour and the massive profits extracted from it.
Just as stevedoring workers and seafarers in Australia risked their lives and livelihoods on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic to sustain our supply chains, ILWU members worked around the clock to ensure grocery shelves were stocked, PPE was available throughout the community, and essential medical supplies and equipment reached North American hospitals, amidst some of the worst global impacts of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide.
Employers such as those within the PMA group must acknowledge that their eyewatering profits were made possible only through the hard work and commitment of their frontline workforce, and share the astonishing profits and eyewatering wealth generated through the COVID pandemic with the workers who delivered it.
PMA should negotiate with the ILWU in good faith. The current agreement expired in July 2022 and negotiations have been underway since May 2022. The PMA must, without further delay, finalise a new agreement which delivers wage justice for these essential workers. ILWU members must not be asked to settle for a package which fails to recognise and reward the immense contribution and struggle of their workforce throughout the social and economic upheaval of the COVID pandemic.