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Skull and crossbones placard with the text 'CROSS TRADERS OUT'.

Date: c 1983
Overall: 760 x 1200 mm, 0.35 kg
Medium: Paint on cardboard
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Maritime Union of Australia
Object Name: PLACARD
Object No: 00028862

User Terms

    Placard from the Seamen's Union of Australia featuring handpainted text reading: 'CROSS TRADERS OUT'. Above the word 'OUT' and below 'CROSS TRADERS is a handpainted skull and crossbones.
    SignificanceThis placard is one of a number of items from the former premises of the Seamen's Union of Australia (SUA) in Sussex Street, Sydney. The material represents the work, activities and attitudes of the SUA in the decades before it was amalgamated into the Maritime Union of Australia. During the 1980s the SUA was heavily involved in protesting against the use of foreign labour and shipping at the expense of Australian jobs.
    HistoryThe history of maritime unionism can be traced to 1872 when the world's first union was formed in Australia. This union, under a variety of names, is the oldest continuing maritime union in the world.

    Currently known as the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), this organisation was formed in 1993 from the amalgamation of several maritime unions. The forerunners to the Maritime Union of Australia include the Sydney Wharf Labourers Union, founded in 1872 and the Seamen's Union in Melbourne the same year.

    The Seamen's Union grew quickly and within four years of forming in Victoria it became an Australian body. Four years later the union was an Australiasian body - encompassing New Zealand in its activities.

    Over the years the union underwent many developments to adapt to changes in maritime labour. The Marine Cooks Bakers and Butchers Association (formed in 1908) merged with the Seamen's Union of Australia (SUA) in 1983 and the Federated Marine Stewards and Pantrymen's Association was absorbed into the SUA in 1988. The Professional Divers' Association also joined the SUA in 1991, shortly before it merged with the Waterside Workers' Federation to establish the MUA.

    In the 1980s the union was focussed mainly on the decline of the Australian shipping industry in an era of new and alternative transport options. During this time there was an increase in foreign shipping carrying Australian exports and the SUA worked to keep Australian flag ships and in turn, Australian jobs. In 1983 the newly elected Labor government recognised that Australia's major shipping operator, the Australia National Line, was in serious financial difficulty and began taking action to restore ANL to a commercially competitive position. This included a renegotiation of cargo shares to the benefit of ANL and at the expense of non-conference lines in response to union protests at the laying up of an ANL ship and a boycott of 'cross traders' and 'flag of convenience' vessels.

    This placard was created at a significant point in the history of the SUA as the union fought to protect Australian jobs by demanding support for Australia's overseas shipping fleet. Rather than taking industrial action, which had the potential to send employers out of business, the maritime union worked with shipowners and politicians to resolve these issues.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: CROSS TRADERS OUT

    Web title: Skull and crossbones placard with the text 'CROSS TRADERS OUT'.

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