A delegation of ILWU officers and members attended the convention for the Western Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia the week of February 26th. The ILWU delegation included International President Robert McEllrath, Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe, Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado, Secretary Treasurer Willie Adams, Local 23 President Scott Mason, and Local 23 members Liz Jimenez, Ryan Whitman, Local 4 member Brad Clark and Local 40 member and International Executive= Board member George O’Neil.
At the convention, ILWU Local 23 and the MUA-Western Australia branch signed a solidarity agreement that strengthened the ties between the two organizations and demonstrated the growing international solidarity efforts between maritime workers and their commitment to broaden campaign efforts across international borders.
President McEllrath presented a short video to convention delegates that featured dramatic highlights from the EGT struggle in Longview, WA. He noted that the dispute with three northwest grain companies is continuing and will require strong solidarity and support. “These big grain companies are powerful international players, and our strategy has to be global as well,” said McEllrath.
Scott Mason, president of ILWU Local 23, explained that the pact signed between the WA branch and his local came after visits of solidarity between the two unions. “We talked about the similarities, about the waterfront,” he said. “We are off to a really good start. This won’t just be a piece of paper. This is going to be a work in progress and we ‘ve already started laying out our next steps, short term goals, medium goals and long-term goals.”
Willie Adams, ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer and a member of Local 23, added: “It’s for the rank and file, by the rank and file. My local has that same passion so it was a natural fit for us to come together. Our friends are here.”
The solidarity agreement reads in part:
“The alliance between our two organisations at this time represents the necessary commitment to international solidarity required for labour to be successful in this time of corporate globalisation. Both branches are militant and progressive and share an approach to rank and file campaigning that unites us.
“As the world becomes smaller with fewer and fewer industrial conglomerates controlling more and more of the world’s capital and resources, we must be innovative in our strategies to protect and enhance the wages, hours and working conditions of our members.”
The WA Branch also signed a solidarity agreement with the Wellington Branch of the Maritime Union of New Zealand.