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The 1998 Waterfront Dispute was described by John Howard as a defining moment in Australias industrial relations history Do you agree with this statement Support your view by discussing the events and outcomes of this dispute John Howards comment on the 1998 Waterfront dispute between the Maritime Union of Australia and Patrick Stevedores was a hypocritical and ignorant description of one of Australias worst industrial relations disputes The Australian Government considers that Australia is poorly served by its waterfront industry The serious inefficiencies that have persisted on the waterfront despite previous reforms have acted as a brake on economic growth and international competitiveness The globalising strategies of both Labour and Liberal governments have intensified the pressure on Australian employers to maintain international competitiveness by cutting costs and increasing productivity Wiseman p1 In the lead up to the 1996 federal election the Coalition advocated the prohibition of union preference with Mr Reith arguing that where union membership was genuinely voluntary unions are more likely to be responsive to the needs of their members Thorpe McDonald p24 However it is more logical to conclude that unions would be less responsive to members where membership to unions is not truly voluntary The 1998 waterfront dispute concerned the Maritime Union of Australia MUA Patrick Stevedoring Australias second largest waterfront company and the Federal government It began in early 1997 when the Workplace Relations Act came into effect Officials representing the government the National Farmers Federation and the chairman of Patrick Stevedoring Chris Corrigan devised to discard the total firms staff and replace them with non union labour who were employed by nine different contracting companies Some MUA members were locked out of Webb Dock in Melbourne on 28 January 1998 where a picket line was set up On the 8 April 1998 Patrick Stevedoring locked out its 1400 permanent staff and 600 casual MUA workers Technically the workers were not dismissed were
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