The Maritime Union of Australia has launched a campaign about employment in coastal shipping following the removal of the Australian crew from MV Portland. Bob Carnegie, Secretary of
Queensland MUA, has written to the national MUA about the presentation of the campaign.
Dear Comrades, congratulations on the start of what I hope is a successful campaign. However, I have immense concerns of the title of the campaign “Sacked for being an Australian: Sacked for being an Australian unionist... yes. Sacked for being an Australian seafarer... yes. Sacked for being an Australian MUA member... yes. Sacked for being an Australian...no.
This is not going to win me too many friends, but any of us who still harbour even the slightest flicker of socialist belief knows that running a “sacked for being an Australian” is going to tap into nationalism and is potentially xenophobic and at the end of the day isn’t even accurate. The MUA members of the crew of the Portland were not sacked because they were Australians. They were sacked because they were upholding cherished working-class beliefs and not because of their nationality. I guess if the leadership of our union wants to go down this path it’s their decision, I certainly did not vote on it. Aussie jobs , on the Aussie coast, is not the same as “Sacked for being an Australian”.
Well I’ve said my two cents worth. I guess I’m just a broken down 55 year old Trotskyist but this slogan does not sit well. Of course I’ll work hard to fight for our rights to work in our own country, but “Sacked for being an Australian” is a slogan too far.