THE MARITIME Union of Australia celebrated its 150th anniversary last week with a gala dinner on Sydney Harbour.

More than 600 guests attended the event, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Sally McManus and delegates from international trade unions.

The MUA said the celebration was an opportunity for its members, delegates and branch officials to join together with friends, supporters and comrades to “celebrate 150 years of struggle, solidarity and unity”.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said the union was proud of everything it had achieved and stood up for throughout its history.

“We are proud that we are providing a strong base for working men and women to live better lives, just as we have for 150 years,” Mr Crumlin said.

“The great thing about the trade union movement and particularly our beautiful union, is that if we made an achievement we never made it without wanting to reach out to someone else – whether it’s the union next door, or down the supply chain, or anyone else under pressure around the world.

“We have always had a sense in ourselves that if we’re able to win power then we can translate that not just into a better life for ourselves and our families, but a better life for our community and for our own nation, but also for a better life for international working people.”

The dinner featured international guests representing transport and maritime workers unions around the world, including the Japanese Seamen’s Union, the UK’s Rail Maritime and Transport Union, the Singapore Organisation of Seamen and the Maritime Union of New Zealand.

Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, highlighted the MUA’s support for seafarers through its Flag of Convenience campaign.

The event concluded a presentation from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who expressed gratitude for the contributions the MUA had made to Australia’s social and political fabric.

“The great truth of the story that we all share in as members of this great labour movement, is that progress is never found at the end of a smooth road,” he said.

“One of the great strengths of the MUA is that it has always looked outward, to extend its solidarity to workers right around the world.

“You’ve always been prepared to stand up for the simple proposition that union values are universal values.

“That fairness, equality, dignity and safety should be the rights of workers everywhere. That’s why, through your 150 years you can be proud that when it counted, when it mattered, you stood up.”