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Friday, October 05, 2007

Cops assault McArthur Express workers by Rachel Evans, Sydney

On September 26, angry workers picketed the Seven Hills offices of national trucking company McArthur Express, which has collapsed owing 700 workers across Australia an estimated $2.5 million in pay and entitlements.

David Johnston, a permanent employee of McArthur Express for two-and-a-half years, told Green Left Weekly: “At 10am on Tuesday there were 18 cop cars inside the yard, four riot squad units, one dog squad and loads of undercover cops parked outside the yard. The cops were over the top — two women were pushed and shoved around.”

Jackie Moore, one of the women pushed to the ground by police, said: “We weren’t here to start riots, we were here from early morning peacefully chatting. One worker all of a sudden had a cop grab onto his neck — he moved away and then an undercover cop dived on him. I went in to help him and then cops jumped on me and him. My son heard my cries for help, came to help and all of a sudden he was arrested as well. The police shoved my pregnant friend around as well.”

A 30-year-old worker was charged by police with intimidation and resisting arrest and Moore’s son was charged with affray and resisting arrest.

On September 27, Transport Workers Union (TWU) vice-president Mark Crosdale said: “Up to 700 employees have been left stranded. Many employees felt the heavy presence of police and the riot squad at the McArthur site yesterday was out of proportion with any potential threat and that the police were heavy handed in their dealings with them. McArthur Express has been aggressively anti-union for many years.”

Federal employment minister Joe Hockey announced the next day that McArthur Express workers would receive up to 14 weeks redundancy payments along with other entitlements such as holiday leave, lost pay and long-service leave.

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