The true story about the war on the Australian waterfront, when on the 7th April 1998, Chris Corrigan and the Liberal Government at the time, conspired and illegally dismissed the unionised...
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The true story about the war on the Australian waterfront, when on the 7th April 1998, Chris Corrigan and the Liberal Government at the time, conspired and illegally dismissed the unionised workforce. The series tells the story from both sides, and how the Maritime Union of Australia fought diligently to get the some 2000 sacked workers their jobs back. Written by
The waterfront dispute seen through the ABC's rose-coloured glasses
With "Bastard Boys" I don't think the makers truly set out to be so one sided, they simply only see one side as the "truth" despite the fact that the reality is much more complex.
For those not familiar with the story portrayed in this mini series, it involves Patrick Stevedores controversial sacking of its entire workforce (of mostly union members) and replacing them with non unionised workers.
This wasn't a very good thing to do, but what "Bastard Boys" fails to do is point out the extenuating circumstances that led to this extreme course of action. The Australian waterfront had been virtually held to ransom for years with one of the lowest lift-rates of any OECD nation, workers with "go slow" policies in order to gain valuable overtime rates, but which miraculously disappeared when the right hands were greased, and a unhelpful union intent on waging an "us vs them" battle of ideology against any sort of attempt to change a status quo that wasn't working.
Bastard Boys completely failed to portray Chris Corrigan (head of Patrick) as anything other than a weird loner. We didn't see him at his wits end, unable to do anything about the lack of productivity that was costing his company a fortune. We didn't see all the rubbish he had to put up with from the union. We just saw unionists and union officials playing happy families and horrified at their "unwaranted" mistreatment.
This miniseries should have been about how union and employer couldn't work together to resolve an obvious issue, so extreme (and yes, wrong) actions were taken. Instead Patrick's and Corrigan are demonised and the unions and sacked workers are painted as pariahs. The series should have pointed out that years after this dispute, the lift rates which the unions so flatly condemned as unsafe and impossible were being achieved by the very same workers who were fired once they had been reinstated.
Bastard Boys should have been about how this whole incident could have been avoided if everyone just worked together, instead of turning into another preachy bit of political revisionism and selective history which only shows one side of the debate.
Bastard Boys should have been about how the workers, the unions AND Patrick's did the wrong thing, and how after all this fuss it was worked out in the end. Fuss that could have been avoided.
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