Advertisement

Aussie ports targeted in Gaza protests

ISRAEL SHIPPING PROTEST
Protesters tried to block a ZIM ship in November. Demonstrators were forcibly removed. Picture: NewsWire / Dylan Robinson

A key union figure says there is appetite to shut down Australian wharves because of the Gaza conflict.

Australian pro-Palestine protesters demonstrated outside major ports across the country on Saturday demanding an end to trade with Israel.

The protesters are calling for boycotts of trade with Israel-based shipping giant ZIM.

ZIM is owned by the Israel Corporation, which trades on the Tel Aviv and New York exchanges.

The chief executive has previously said the company will be “positioning its ships and infrastructure” to assist Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

END TRADE WITH ISRAEL RALLY
A woman praying during the protest at Port Botany in Sydney on Saturday. Picture: NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
END TRADE WITH ISRAEL
Protesters in Melbourne marched to the Port of Melbourne. Picture: NewsWire / Diego Fedele

The Palestine Justice Movement Sydney (PJMS) organised Saturday’s demonstrations along with Australia-wide pro-Palestine groups.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking in Melbourne, Construction, Forestry and Maritime Employees Union national secretary Christy Cain said workers did not support the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

“We will stand with the Palestinian community,” Mr Cain said.

Israeli soldiers fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip in May. Picture: Israeli Army / AFP
Israeli soldiers fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip in May. Picture: Israeli Army / AFP

“We’re seeing bombings in homes, hospitals, babies with no anaesthetic having their limbs removed.”

“The trade union movement of two-and-a-half million people around this country need to understand, if you are a trade unionist you stand for peace … peace in Palestine.”

In March, 19 people including union leaders were arrested during a protest against ZIM at Port Botany.

END TRADE WITH ISRAEL
Protesters want Australia to end trade with Israeli shipping Company ZIM. Picture: NewsWire / Diego Fedele

NSW Police said officers went to the “unauthorised protest” about 7pm before the protest group blocked access to the port.

“The crowd was directed to move from the roadway and given some time to do so,” a police spokesman said.

“A number did not comply and were arrested for disobeying police direction.”

END TRADE WITH ISRAEL
Hundreds of people turned out for the Melbourne protest on Saturday. Picture: NewsWire / Diego Fedele

CFMEU heavy Mr Cain said unionists would use their labour to show disdain for the arrests and charges.

“I will do everything I can to stop the wharves if they do not drop them charges up in Sydney,” Mr Cain said.

“There are many trade union leaders around the country who feel the same way.

UFU RALLY
Construction, Forestry and Maritime Employees Union national secretary Christy Cain has made a hypothetical threat to close down wharves over the Middle East conflict. Picture: NewsWire / Valeriu Campan

“We will continue to get out there and march. It is our right,” Mr Cain said.

The office of Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke has been contacted for comment.

In respect of the port protests, NSW, South Australian, Queensland and Victorian police said there were no issues on Saturday.

WA Police issued one “disorderly” protester a move on order.

Tasmanian and Northern Territory police did not respond.

END TRADE WITH ISRAEL RALLY
NSW Police reported no issues at the Sydney protest on Saturday. Picture: NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

The groups involved in Saturday’s demonstrations want all shipping companies operating in Australia to declare trade with Israel and an arms embargo and trade sanctions on the state of Israel.

“PJMS alongside all Palestine solidarity collectives nationwide call on Australian civil society, including businesses, schools and universities, art and cultural institutions and union leaders to join the actions to say no to ZIM shipping and say no to any Israeli goods that are moved through Australian ports or traded in Australian markets.”

United Arab Emirati aid rolls across a US-built jetty toward Gaza on May 19. Picture: Emirates News Agency / AFP
United Arab Emirati aid rolls across a US-built jetty toward Gaza on May 19. Picture: Emirates News Agency / AFP
Aid being dropped into Gaza on May 19. Picture: Jordanian Army / AFP
Aid being dropped into Gaza on May 19. Picture: Jordanian Army / AFP

Since 2017, Australia and Israel have expanded co-operation on national security, defence and cyber security.

Israel is Australia’s 46th-largest two-way trading partner, as of 2021, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says.

The trade represented about $1bn of imports and $325m of exports.

During the Albanese government, Australia has exported $3.25m of arms and ammunition to Israel, DFAT figures show.

The UN’s emergency aid chief says Israel’s war on Gaza has been a tragedy beyond words. Picture: Israeli Army / AFP
The UN’s emergency aid chief says Israel’s war on Gaza has been a tragedy beyond words. Picture: Israeli Army / AFP

The behemoth Australian Council of Trade Unions made a call for a ceasefire last month, saying the union was “deeply concerned” at “evidence” Australian companies supply parts used in F-35 fighter jets, which Israel uses to bomb Gaza.

The ACTU called for the federal government to end all military trade with Israel and increase humanitarian funding to Gaza.

The ACTU is the peak body of 38 affiliated unions with about 1.8 million members.

“We condemn the deaths of over 34,000 civilians since 7 October including (1200 Israelis and over 33,000 Palestinians),” a union statement released in April reads.

END TRADE WITH ISRAEL RALLY
Saturday’s demonstrations targeted the shipping company ZIM. Picture: NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

“We condemn the killing of Zomi Frankcom and other aid workers, including those working for Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA partner MA’AN development centre who have been working on emergency relief in Gaza.”

“The situation facing people in Gaza is dire: two million people are facing food insecurity. Food shortages have exceeded famine levels and mass death is imminent.”