ITF Condemns Detention of ILWU President

By MarEx 2011-09-09 09:39:53

The ITF has condemned the detention yesterday of ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) president Bob McEllrath while attending a protest in Vancouver, Washington, USA. He and other ILWU members were defending the job rights of workers at a new grain export terminal at the port of Longview, whose owners, EGT, appear to be trying to ignore the 80 year history of ILWU membership at the port by recruiting non-ILWU members – in defiance, the ILWU believes, of its contract with the port.

Bob McEllrath was then released in the face of protests from his fellow dockers, among reported threats from the ‘authorities that the army would be brought in next time’.

ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented: “Bob was detained for standing up for the rights of his members. That’s not acceptable in the modern world. We call on the company and all its stakeholders to halt their provocative plans before they take this conflict out of control.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “EGT are playing with fire, and they know it. They need to take a big step back and think about what they are trying to force through, then see sense and talk to the ILWU about how to resolve this issue before it escalates even further.”

He continued: “The 350,000 plus dockers in the ITF will be watching how the company treats their American colleagues and, if the company makes it necessary, will be ready to take lawful solidarity action in support of the ILWU.”

Below is the ILWU press release:

Workers volunteer to “put their bodies on the line” in effort to save good jobs in Longview, WA.

Hundreds of port workers stood on railroad tracks today at 4pm,  blocking  a train carrying grain to a foreign-owned loading facility in Longview, Washington.  Workers took action to protest the failure by big grain companies to honor agreements with the local community to provide good jobs in Longview.

“Everyone came to the tracks on their own free will to stand up for justice and protect good jobs in this community, said ILWU President Bob McEllrath, who stood with the volunteers on Wednesday afternoon.  “It shouldn’t be a crime to fight for good jobs in America.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Police attack dock workers who are standing up for good jobs.

Police in riot gear charged the group of peaceful protesters, which included women and children, injuring several in the process.  When volunteers stood their ground, police retreated and the train was backed-off. As of 6pm, it was unclear if the BNSF Railroad would continue to attempt another delivery or stand down.

The controversial grain terminal is owned and operated by EGT – a consortium of companies that includes  North America, South Korea-based STX Pan Ocean and Japan-based Itochu Corporation.