How mass picket held up Israeli ship

Some 200 Palestine solidarity activists picketed the Patrick’s terminal in Fremantle in protest at an Israeli ship, part of the Zim line.

The action on 2 December, initiated by Unionists for Palestine WA, held up the As Nadia for 22 hours. Activists estimate it cost the company and its agents $250,000.

WA workers joined others in Belgium, the US, Italy, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere in taking direct action against the Israeli war machine.

It’s a powerful reminder of how organised workers can hit bosses’ profits and strike a blow against racism and imperialism.

As U4P WA said on Facebook, “It was an overall fantastic display of solidarity and a staunch demonstration against the Israeli apartheid state, their horrific war on Gaza and all who are complicit in this genocidal regime.”

Inspired

Solidarity spoke to U4P WA activist Alex Whisson.

“We were inspired by the actions on the waterfront in Melbourne and Sydney—stopping Zim trucks in Melbourne and the mass protest in Botany Bay,” he said.

“So we began to organise and 30 people turned up at the first meeting, including members and organisers of the ASU, CFMEU, MUA, UWU, RAFFWU and other unions. There were members of the Young Greens and environmental activists, too.”

The strategy was to hold a community picket line that would be respected by MUA members. Importantly, U4P activists spent time talking to MUA members and officials.

“We put a leaflet into the MUA AGM and spent time in conversation with union members,” Alex said.

“A lot of the time we didn’t get to finish what we were saying before they were telling us, ‘mate, we don’t cross picket lines’.”

By the time the community picket was called, activists were confident that MUA members would respect it.

Link arms

Activists picketed out the 3pm and 11pm shifts, with almost all workers turning away. “We think just four wharfies broke the picket via a back entrance,” said Alex.

“The picket was made up of rank-and-file unionists and students and it was wonderful to see all the young Palestinians who joined us to link arms and sit in the road to block it.

“We delayed the stevedoring until the 7am shift went in on the Sunday.

“I think we caught the police on the hop. They issued just five move-on notices, including to a young, passionate Palestinian woman, who they shamefully gave a hard time.”

Alex added, “One of my friends and comrades told me the picket was one of the best things to happen in Perth in 10 years, and I think they were right.

“And this is only the start of our campaign to build a militant, determined and sustainable movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“There are plenty more actions like this to come.”

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