Maritime Unions Socialist Activities Association

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Maritime Unions Socialist Activities Association

SPA/MUSAA conference


New Zealand delegates Bill Andersen, Mike Williams, Joe Fleetwood and Rachael Goddard attended the Australian Maritime Unions Socialist Activities Association and Socialist Party of Aotearoa Conference held 18 – 20 February 2003, at St. George Basin, Australia.

This conference was a great education for the twenty comrades that attended from around Australia and New Zealand.
Part of educating ourselves towards building a strong, militant and democratic union was to ask your self at the end of the seminar “what do you intend to do differently after the seminar than before the seminar?”
Also noted was the need for unions to play a part in the peace movement...
We should aim to make the minority accountable, by exposing discrimination and getting law changes.
Global Capitalism is dominant in our world today, but it has not always existed. It came after the feudal system, and before that the slave system and previous primitive communal system, and one day the current system will change too.
Most Socialists would agree we need the majority on side to get the changes.

The Seminar had an "immediate gain" in the setup of a Tasman Shipping Campaign.

On "behalf of my fellow Kiwis" Goddard thankedd the Wellington Branch for the nominations, the Maritime Union of Australia for the Training School facilities, the Workers Institute of Scientific Socialism, the Maritime Unions Socialist Activities Association of Australia and the Socialist Party of Aotearoa for the opportunity.


Western Australian MUSAA Conference

The socialist countries have imposed a check on capitalism but since the break-up of the Soviet Union the capitalist system had "grown new legs". There were now no borders for international capitalism, said Mick Doleman, from the Sydney Branch of the Maritime Unions Socialist Activities Association (MUSAA).

Mick was giving the opening address to the Western Australian State Conference of the MUSAA.

The conference was held in Perth over the weekend of February 27-28 1999. It brought together a wide range of speakers who, among other things, were united by the fact that all (except Gerry Adams) had participated on the picket lines during the MUA dispute.

For two days a long agenda of visiting speakers addressed members.

The conference was also addressed by Tony Cooke Secretary WA Trades and Labour Council (T&LC); Keith Peckham President of the WA T&LC; Christina Gillgren, a State Executive member of the WA ALP; Ramona Mitussis, a trade union activist; Dr Rob Lambert, the convenor of the WA T&LC International Committee; Vinicio Molina from the Cuba Friendship Society; John Gandini Convenor Trade Union Support Group for East Timor; Terry Buck, Secretary MUA WA Branch; Dr Carmen Lawrence, MHR; Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of MUSAA; Vic Williams, Secretary, Perth Branch of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA); and Peter Symon, CPA General Secretary.

It was opened by the WA President of MUSAA, Dean Sommers, who recalled the many activities of MUSAA members in WA.

Two international visitors also spoke to the Conference: Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, who was in Perth on the last stage of his visit and Mike Williams representing the Seamen's Union of New Zealand.

The conference adopted resolutions of solidarity with East Timor, Sinn Fein, Cuba and East Timor.

It supported the "leadership and rank and file members of the NZ Seaman's Union in their ongoing struggle to retain maritime workers' wages and conditions, to reinstate cabotage and protect NZ manned merchant shipping".

Conference condemned the draconian NZ labour laws which are creating the "rich and the very poor" in society. It called for the election of a coalition of NZ Labour and the Alliance Parties in elections which are expected in November this year.

An important decision of the conference "endorsed the opening of a socialist dialogue with like-minded individuals and organisations with a view to examining existing social and economic problems from a Marxist perspective."

Mick Doleman described the new industrial legislation to be introduced by the Howard Government as "the worst industrial laws of all time".

Mike Williams from the NZ Seaman's Union told of the savage cut-backs in conditions which have been imposed on the NZ workers under the policy of privatisation, deregulation and casualisation.

Mike Williams said that the NZ waterfront had been largely casualised but that the union had alienated casuals by refusing to accept them into the union.

An election is to be held in NZ probably in November this year. He called for a Labour Party and Labour Alliance Government to replace the present right-wing government of the National Party.

Wally Pritchard a member of MUSAA and the Assistant Secretary of the MUA's WA Branch welcomed Gerry Adams who received a standing ovation when he visited the MUSAA conference.

Gerry Adams said he had been uplifted by the reception he had received in Australia and thanked the MUA for its support.

The Republican referendum was dealt with by Christina Gillgren while Carmen Lawrence spoke of the propaganda war being waged by the media and Howard Government leaders, particularly directed against the MUA in the recent dispute.

Dr Rob Lambert spoke of the development of "global unionism" and reported that a preparatory meeting of southern alliance unions from the Pacific Rim countries was to be held in Perth at the end of March and that a conference will be held in South Africa towards the end of the year.

Ramona Mitussis told of the huge influx of guest workers and illegal migrants into Greece in recent years and that this had provoked a strong racist back-lash in the country.

Tony Cooke called for grass-roots campaigning and a broad political debate to discuss the impact of policies and social issues. He said that there was anger towards the major parties in a fluid and complex situation.

Peter Symon concluded by saying that the policy of the CPA was for the widest possible working class and community unity. The Party appreciated the comradely relations between MUSAA and the CPA and that it was desirable to find practical ways to make this relationship more active.[2]]


  1. [1] The Maritimes, Ussue 2, May 2003, page 27
  2. he Guardian March 10, 1999 Unifying MUSAA Conference