Thursday, August 16, 2018

Container Terminal Deaths and Murder Colour Scathing Attack on Port Management Group

Unions Demand Inquiry Into Granting of Dock Handling Contract
Shipping News Feature
AUSTRALIA – It would be an understatement to say that relations between global union outfit the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and Philippine headquartered International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) are not particularly friendly. Sackings, strikes, redundancies and even multiple deaths and murder in and about the company's terminals have unsurprisingly caused friction stretching back years.

Now this history is being revealed to a wider audience after the vociferous ITF President and Chair of the ITF Dockers’ Section Paddy Crumlin saw the port group move into his home country when it won the contract to operate the Webb Dock terminal at the Port of Melbourne. The move has prompted a new report by the ITF and this calls for both the Federal and Victorian governments to commence an immediate inquiry into the deal.

After winning the international bid, Victoria International Container Terminal Limited (VICT), and owned by ICTSI, signed an agreement in May 2014 with the Port of Melbourne Corporation for the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance and financing of the Port of Melbourne's new international container terminal at Webb Dock East, one of the most advanced and fully automated box facilities, now equipped with robotic cranes capable of handling 1.8 million TEU annually.

The new report was launched at Australia’s Parliament House, Canberra by ALP Senator Glenn Sterle (Chair of Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee and Deputy Chair of Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee), Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Secretary Michael O’Connor and Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Michele O’Neil along with Mr Crumlin who commented:

“[This report] exposes details how ICTSI has built its business by exploiting workers in port after port, reinforcing a business model of deliberately prioritising countries where human and labour rights are most at vulnerable and by partnering with some of the worst anti-democratic regimes implicated in crimes against humanity.

“We’re talking about a company unafraid to partner with corrupt and sanctioned regimes implicated in war crimes and genocide. Regimes that have subjected thousands of civilians to acts of murder, rape and torture. Regimes that attack the basis of our own union principles, the right of free speech and protest without fear or oppression.

“We know that ICTSI was dealing with the Government of Sudan while subject to United Nations and United States sanctions, and that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir had active criminal changes laid against him by the International Criminal Court throughout the tender process and when the contract was awarded. This raises serious questions about the due diligence process and what consideration was given to ICTSI’s relationships with despotic regimes and subsequent threats to security standards on the Australian waterfront.

“ICTSI’s appalling international record shows a complete disregard for workers’ dignity, safety and fundamental labour and human rights all over the world. ICTSI exploits, overworks, harasses and intimidates its workforce, prioritising profit over workers’ safety and fundamental rights. From day one ICTSI imported its aggressive anti-worker business model that they have run out all over the world into Australia, undercutting local wages and conditions, attacking and sacking labour activists and deceiving workers by failing to deliver on promised pay increases and permanency.”

This latest ITF report follows a previous report on the VICT Terminal published last December and poses several questions which the unions wish to put before the Australian public:

  • How a company with the international reputation that ICTSI holds was ever short-listed, or even eligible, to win a tender to operate critical port infrastructure in Australia?
  • What consideration was given to ICTSI’s dealings with anti-democratic and international sanctioned regimes, like the Al-Bashir regime in Sudan in the due diligence process?
  • Was the Sudan deal disclosed to the Victorian Government as part of the tender process?
  • Did the Victorian Government consult with relevant Commonwealth security agencies considering the relationship between ICTSI and the Government of Sudan?
  • How did ICTSI satisfy ‘community benchmarks’ given its appalling international reputation when it was awarded the tender to operate the VICT terminal at Webb Dock in Melbourne?