PROTESTERS have been targeting the Israeli shipping company Zim at Port Botany and the port of Melbourne. There is concern that protest activity may flare up again as other Zim ships call Australian ports.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Port Botany on Saturday 11 November in attempt to “block” the arrival of Zim containership Contship Dax.

The Palestine Justice Movement Sydney and Trade Unionists for Palestine groups announced the protest on Friday 3 November ahead of the ship’s scheduled arrival.

According to industry associations, NSW Police advised transport operators to avoid carrying Zim-branded containers along Foreshore Road at Port Botany while protest activity was underway.

Data available to DCN indicates Contship Dax was originally scheduled to call at Melbourne on 8 November, followed by Sydney on 11 November. But the port calls were rotated early last week; the vessel berthed in Sydney on 8 November and is now scheduled to berth in Melbourne on 17 November.

There were Maritime Union of Australia flags flying among the Palestine flags at Port Botany.

MUA Sydney Branch secretary Paul Keating said in a statement that the union joins the call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“The MUA will always stand with the oppressed, the colonised and the exploited, including the Palestinian community and a broad coalition of peace and justice organisations calling for freedom and justice for the Palestinian people as a long-term solution to the cyclical violence, death and destruction for all people living in both Palestine and Israel,” he said.

MUA said the protest in Sydney was part of “escalating actions” by communities and unions and around the world to target Israeli-owned vessels in ports. Groups in Italy, the US and Belgium are also participating in action at ports, the union said.

Road block in Webb Dock

The protest at Botany followed another demonstration on Thursday last week (9 November) when protesters occupied a roadway in Melbourne’s Webb Dock, where another Zim vessel was due to arrive.

Protesters carrying Palestinian flags blocked access to Victoria International Container Terminal and ACFS Webb Dock Empty Container Park, according to Container Transport Alliance Australia.

CTAA in an update said Zim Line empty container de-hires were redirected to ACFS eRail in the Swanson Precinct the following evening to avoid any further action from protesters who were still camped out in the Webb Dock area.

CTAA said another Zim ship, Calandra, is expected at Patrick East Swanson Dock on Wednesday 15 November. The association has cautioned the vessel “may become the target of protest action” in the Swanson Precinct.

Calandra is operated by Gold Star Line on the China Asia Express (CAX) service. Images from the Webb Dock demonstration last week show a Gold Star Line-branded truck blocked by protesters.

“It would be an understatement to say that a civil protest in the Swanson Precinct alongside landside logistics operators are already having to deal with the debilitating delays caused by the West Gate Tunnel Project roadworks, as well as the industrial actions at DP World West Swanson Terminal, will be extremely challenging,” CTAA said.

At the time of writing (13 November) Calandra was scheduled to berth at the East Swanson Dock at  0700 on 15 November.