A Message from Sydney Ferries Maintenance Facility

Sydney Ferries Maintenance Facility, known as Balmain Shipyard, consists of 3 wharves, tradesmen’s workshops, a drydock and 65 highly skilled Blue Collar workers who are the backbone of a safe, reliable ferry service.

In 2009 the shipyard unions negotiated a flexible, multi-skilled enterprise agreement which ensures efficiency now and into the future. This is reflected in our performance benchmark figures which are currently being exceeded.

At the 2009 State Labor Conference the decision was unanimous to keep Sydney Ferries in public hands.

Chris Moutter, AMWU Delegate, believes that if maintenance is privatised the new owner’s agenda will be to sub contract maintenance out to the cheapest tenderer to maximise profit. This will result in unreliable and unsafe ferries.

“The private company will then approach the State Government for more money because it cannot continue to run present service levels with such an un-reliable fleet. More tax payer’s money will end up in the private company’s pockets climaxing with a brand new fleet which will still not guarantee a safe, reliable service. The State Government will then buy back the ferries at an over inflated price. I believe the only winners will be the private company.”

“Please support public ownership of maintenance and ferries as it is the only sensible option available which can provide a decent, reliable, green public transport solution for a growing Sydney. Again we thank the community for its ongoing support.”

Thank you. The Workers at Balmain Shipyard.

NSW Australian Labor Party Conference Update

Sunday afternoon (15th November) saw a motion hit the floor co-sponsored by both the Maritime Union of Australia and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union that requires the ALP in the event that they want to privatise Sydney Ferries, to refer the decision to an internal ALP Committee to firstly determine whether it meets the twelve standards required to privatise found within the ALP policy and then if it does, be referred back to the NSW ALP Conference of 700 Delegates to be voted on.

Basically, it would be the same process that we saw during the electricity debate of 2008.

Paul Bastian, State Secretary of the AMWU and myself commended the Sydney Ferries motion to the conference. The MUA/AMWU motion had cross factional support and support of all the Unions regardless of faction. NSWALP Party President and Electrical Trade Unions Secretary Bernie Riordan along with Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon also rose to speak strongly in favour of the motion and supported the workers of Sydney Ferries for their hard work in reforming the iconic ferry service.

When put to the vote, the Sydney Ferries motion had unanimous endorsement which was a major achievement.

Clearly, a strong message was sent to the NSW Government that the Party Conference would not accept privatisation being decided on by a few and further sent a strong message that they supported Sydney Ferries remaining in public hands.

To win the support of the ALP Conference in its last sitting before the 2011 NSW State Election was a major step forward in the campaign.

But the campaign isn’t over yet. We will continue lobbying Government, the agencies and all other interested parties.

The ongoing Save Our Sydney Ferries campaign has been helping us get the message out to the politicians and the public and has played a vital roll in continuing our campaign.

We will be expecting an announcement before Christmas on Sydney Ferries.

In the meantime, keep the pressure on your local State MP’s. Ring them, write to them, visit them and make sure they understand your views that Sydney Ferries should remain in public hands.

Balmain Town Hall Rally

A public meeting of nearly 300 people at Balmain Town Hall Saturday 7th November demonstrated strong support for Sydney Ferries staying in public hands. Chaired by Leichhardt Mayor Jamie Parker with Member for Balmain Verity Firth and MUA Assistant Secretary Paul Garrett, the meeting gave 100% support to the following resolution:

Sydney Ferries Resolution

This public meeting of residents of Balmain and surrounding suburbs agrees that the public interest is best served by the ongoing public ownership of Sydney Ferries.

Furthermore, this meeting calls on the NSW State Government to come forward and recognise the grave threat posed by privatisation.

Accordingly, we ask that the Premier, Minister for Transport and the NSW State Government as a whole to defend the public interest and ensure that Sydney Ferries remains in public ownership into the future.

The SOSF Group makes the headlines again!

Newspaper clippings and video footage of the event on 23rd October at Blmain East Wharf

Protest makes cover page
The guys jamming


October 28, 2009
More than 200 residents, workers and activists rallied today alongside East Balmain Wharf to protest against the State Governments plan to sell off the iconic Sydney Ferry Service. Speakers included the legendary "Green Bans" campaigner of the 70's Mr Jack Mundey along with Greens MP Lee Rhiannon and Maritime Union Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Garrett coordinating the event.

Campaign Launched by Jack Mundey - 25th August

Veteran heritage activist Jack Mundey has launched the campaign to keep Sydney's Ferries safe in public hands.

Under the banner “Gotta Love Sydney Ferries – some things are too important to sell off”, more than 120 protesters including ferry passengers, ferry workers and unionists, many wearing “Save Our Sydney Ferries” T- shirts, gathered at Circular Quay Ferry Terminal on 21st August in a bid to persuade the State Government not to sell off our historic public service.

Jack Mundey said the Ferries are iconic for Sydney and should not be sold.

"I see the campaign this morning as a warning note to the government and particularly to the backbenchers, to say well hang on, you cannot just sell off everything the way we have done in the past," he said.

"The ferries are respected throughout the world, they're part of the fabric that has made Sydney what it is. Our green and gold ladies of the harbour epitomise its working class heritage".
(Go to the ‘Links’ page to see video of the launch)

Regional launches followed with Jack Mundey passionately supporting the campaign to keep the Ferries safe in public hands. On 18th September Angela D’Amore, the Local State Member for Drummoyne joined Jack and protesters at Cabarita Wharf to oppose any move towards privatisation.

Jack’s next stop was Parramatta on 9th October where Tanya Gadiel, Local State Member for Parramatta, told campaigners of the need to maintain Ferry services to her electorate and to keep the Ferries safe in public hands.

Paul Garrett, Assistant Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, NSW Branch said that any move to privatise the Ferry Service would be opposed by the MUA and that the campaign had the full support of the union.

"Sydney Ferries is one of the cleanest, safest and most enjoyable ways to get around the heart of our city," he said.

"It makes sense that they should be owned and operated for the people by the people" he said.
Dennis Aubrey, ukulele player extraordinaire and member of the Balmain Ukulele Club, lent an uplifting musical note to the launches leading supporters in singing “Safe in Public Hands”, the anti-privatisation anthem.

Web SIte Launch

Save our Sydney Ferries - Launches a new and exciting website to help raise public awareness of the fight to keep Sydney Ferries in the hands of the public, for the public.

Visit this page to see the latest updates as well as information about rallies and general news information.

Transdev, Veolia or the Sydney Public?

“Remember, the two foreign owned companies, Transdev and Veolia, both bidding to become the private operator of Sydney Ferries, both lost their contracts to operate trains and trams in Melbourne! (June 2009).

If they were unable to run trains and trams you must ask the question about how they would run Sydney Ferries. A decision on the future of Sydney Ferries will be made at the end of the year. Have your say now and keep Sydney Ferries Safe in Public Hands.”

email us with any comments or suggestions at: saveoursydneyferries@y7mail.com