Maritime Union of Australia Plus

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Sydney, Australia

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The Maritime Union of Australia is a strong union, with a long history of solidarity - working for its members, the community and causes such as the environment, an anti nuclear Pacific, land rights and justice for Aboriginal Australians the Australian republic, independence for East Timor and trade union rights worldwide.

The MUA came about as an amalgamation of the Seamen's Union of Australia and the Waterside Workers' Federation in 1993.

But its roots go back to the 19th century and the formation of the first maritime union in the world - the Seamen's Union of Australia in 1872.

The same year the Sydney Wharf Labourers' Union was established at the Oriental Hotel. But the first joint industrial action taken by wharfies and seafarers was one and a half centuries before amalgamation, when in 1837 Sydney wharf labourers and seamen outfitting whaling ships held a joint stop work meeting and strike. They were demanding an extra one shilling a day in wages.

With the birth of a nation and Federation came national unionism, The Waterside Workers Federation (1902) and the Seamen's Union of Australia (1906).

Both the SUA and the WWF have always been regarded as very politicised unions (too much so for conservative politicians and business leaders); and little wonder. The first meeting of the WWF was staged in Federal Parliament House, Melbourne on 7 February 1902.

The MUA is internationally recognised for its commitment to the underdog. Aboriginal rights, national liberation struggles in South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia and Timor-Leste, democracy movements in Chile, Fiji and Greece are just some of the causes it has championed over the years.

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