8 September 2011: The ITF has condemned the detention yesterday of ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) president Bob McEllrath while attending a protest in Vancouver, Washington, USA. He and other ILWU members were defending the job rights of workers at a new grain export terminal at the port of Longview, whose owners, EGT, appear to be trying to ignore the 80 year history of ILWU membership at the port by recruiting non-ILWU members – in defiance, the ILWU believes, of its contract with the port.
Bob McEllrath was then released in the face of protests from his fellow dockers, among reported threats from the ‘authorities that the army would be brought in next time’.
ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented:“Bob was detained for standing up for the rights of his members. That’s not acceptable in the modern world. We call on the company and all its stakeholders to halt their provocative plans before they take this conflict out of control.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “EGT are playing with fire, and they know it. They need to take a big step back and think about what they are trying to force through, then see sense and talk to the ILWU about how to resolve this issue before it escalates even further.”
He continued: “The 350,000 plus dockers in the ITF will be watching how the company treats their American colleagues and, if the company makes it necessary, will be ready to take lawful solidarity action in support of the ILWU.”