Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Insults Fly as Maritime Union Officials See Old Adversary Himself Accused

It Seems Australian Dockers Representatives Are Sensitive Souls After All
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – In 2015 the leading officials of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) came under a withering attack from Justice Dyson Heydon who enquired into payments totalling A$3,200,000 handed over by a number of employers in the maritime industry at the direction or request of MUA officials and naming three, Chris Cain, Paddy Crumlin and Rod Pickette, and a payment to a political candidate, who happened to be the Deputy State Secretary of the MUA.

Justice Heydon’s use of a poetry extract from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Dane-Geld’, which led the numerous enquiries in his report; ‘Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption’, obviously stung the MUA, as no doubt did the comment in the report with regard to the alleged threat to disrupt a major offshore energy project in 2008 that MUA boss Paddy Crumlin’s evidence was ‘worthless’. The case alleged that the MUA was basically operating a protection racket, only allowing foreign vessels and crews to service the contract if payment was forthcoming.

The case being made on that particular contract was only the first in a litany of accusations against the MUA and CFMEU and its officials, all of which paint the union, and particularly Chris Cain, in a very bad light. Now however an independent inquiry commissioned by Australia's High Court has found that Justice Heydon, who retired from the bench in 2013, sexually harassed six staff members.

The MUA have obviously leapt on this with delight, publishing their own poem as a retort, a piece by English poet John Wilmot. Heydon denies all the accusations, much as did Chris Cain himself in February 2019 when accused of harassing a woman at a rally in Fremantle after the CFMEU and MUA had merged into the CFMMEU.

For students of industrial relations the 2015 report is well worth a read, particularly from page 23 where Heydon mischievously titles the section, ‘On the waterfront: The high price of industrial peace’ where the use of the epic poem caused the union to complain it was being treated as ‘no better than rampaging Vikings and blackmailers’.

Photo: Justice Dyson Heydon.