“DRASTIC action” from the New South Wales and Commonwealth governments is required to address public health issues caused by bushfire smoke, the Maritime Union says.

MUA Sydney Branch secretary Paul McAleer said this was a public health emergency.

“Politicians have manufactured a climate crisis through ignoring science and failing to resource communities to face the threat,” Mr McAleer said.

“Workers are exposed to the consequences of this failure and must act to defend their health, safety and homes. The MUA Sydney Branch will promote all efforts to protect ourselves against the climate catastrophe that has been thrust into our communities, our workplaces and our lives.”


MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith said for the third day in two weeks, smoke had become so intolerable in Sydney maritime workers had been forced to stop work.

“Maritime workers in Newcastle and Port Kembla have also been forced to down tools due to the severe health risks and effects of working in such high levels of smoke,” Mr Smith said.

“We demand action from governments to protect workers and protect the community, and will continue to stand up to employers who want us to work in intolerable conditions.”

The MUA noted doctors and medical organisations had declared a public health emergency.

MUA Southern NSW branch secretary Mich Cross said Port Kembla operations had been reassessed.

“The workforce at the stevedoring operations, as always, are working safely and continually monitoring the smoke and heat situation,” Mr Cross said.

“They will not put themselves or workmates at risk.”