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  • Dockworkers’ Worldwide Day Of Action Stands Up For Workers Facing Corporate Repression, Pushbacks
    Posted On: Jul 07, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, July 8, 2016

    Workers organized demonstrations and temporary work stoppages at ports around the world Thursday, July 7th, as part of a Global Day of Action to draw attention to issues facing dockworkers, ranging from health and safety to respect for collective bargaining rights and protection of labor standards in the global economy.  International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesperson Craig Merilees from San Francisco says the International Dockers Council and the International Transport Workers federation initiated the event to stand up for the rights of workers around the world who are facing repression and pushback from powerful international corporations:

    [Craig Merilees]: “They jointly decided that it is time to send a message to powerful employers that the kinds of abuse that dockworkers suffer, the number killed on the job doing this dangerous occupation, the disrespect that their facing, the threats to their livelihoods and their job securities, have to be challenged.   So, they’re speaking up today in one voice all over the world.”

    The rolling strikes happened right on the docks, halting work for an hour.  International Longshoreman’s Association Public Relations Director Jim McNamara:

    [Jim McNamara]: “It’s almost like a 24-hour chain of observance.   So, every hour you’re getting a longshore union or longshoreman from a country sending in reports, starting with, last night I received a photo from New Zealand.  The participation, not just in the United States but around the world, has been phenomenal.  The photos and reports coming in from almost fifty countries that are participating is just great to see…solidarity in action.”

    The demonstrations also honored workers who had died on the docks, including an hour of silence from ILWU workers on the West Coast.  Merilees notes that dockwork is an extremely dangerous job:

    [Craig Merilees]: “Working with these giant, massive containers that are being stacked dozens-high on ships is inherently dangerous.  Safety is not the top concern of management.  Corners can’t be cut when it comes to safety, and that’s one of the important things that workers are doing today is sending a message that they don’t want safety compromised, especially when people pay with their lives.”

    The ILA’s McNamara says the events came about as a way to demonstrate the power and solidarity of the dockworkers worldwide:

    [Jim McNamara]: “It was just one hour, so we don’t believe it disrupted the flow of cargo, but it did demonstrate that if everything stopped for an hour it can have an impact.  The only weapon that workers really have in negotiations is their labor.  To withhold that labor for an hour is a way of showing that it has a tremendous value to not only the employers but to the citizens of a country and the people of the world.  Nobody ever wants to exercise that power of withholding labor, but we wanted to make certain that not only did our members understand that we had that power, but that we would use it if we needed to.”

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