Never Cross A Picket Line - by Anders Forsstrom
What is the "Global Community"? Until the last days of September 1997 that global community was the same thing as large global corporations and international federations. But since then, the global community also must include dockworkers unions.
A container vessel named "Neptune Jade" was at that time unable to unload its cargo due to solidarity actions from dockworkers in ports in different countries, even though the ITF, as claiming to represent dockworkers at a global scale, had no part in the solidarity.
A picket was called to support the 500 Liverpool dockers that were sacked by the stevedore company MDHC as they refused to cross a picket line. The "Neptune Jade" had been loaded by the scabs at a MDHC port and when the ship arrived to the Oakland Yuen terminal in September 28, a picket line stood waiting for her.
The date marked the second anniversary of the struggle of the Liverpool Dockers. Longshoremen refused to cross the picket line. No cargo was unloaded.
The company went to the state court to get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against mass picketing at the docks, but the judge refused to issue a TRO!
After two days the ship sailed, but did not actually leave. Rather, she shifted to anchorage in the San Francisco Bay to clear the berth for another ship. After a while she came back, only to find the picket lines still waiting at its Berth.
Once again the employers tried to get a TRO, but no one acknowledged them.
"Neptune Jade" had been unable to unload its cargo in Oakland and was headed for Vancouver, Canada, where her next stop came to be October 4.
Also in Canada there was a picket line waiting and no longshore worker crossed that line. No work was done on "Neptune Jade". This time the company apparently decided to cut its losses, ordering the "Neptune Jade" to set sail immediately for Yokohama, Japan, after only five hours of picketing.
But, when the "Neptune Jade" reached Japan, she had yet another nasty surprise waiting for her!
All-Japan Dockworkers. Union refused the handling of containers loaded at Thamesport. At the same time they decided to refuse the work of any cargoes in Japan handled by MDHC, i.e. any cargoes from and to the ports of Liverpool, Thamesport and Sheerness.
No MDHC-scab-cargo was unloaded in Yokohama and "Neptune Jade" sailed for her final destination, Kobe. But since it is the same dockworkers union in Kobe no MDHC cargo was unloaded. After this "Neptune Jade" sailed to Kaohsiung, Taiwan to be sold. There is no confirmation of what finally happened to the MDHC containers that was supposed to get to Oakland, San Francisco.
Many of the participants in the Oakland picket was facing major legal hassles. A lawsuit has been filed alleging an extortionate conspiracy on the part of the pickets, and this suit asks the court to award an unspecified sum of monetary damages.