The industrial turmoil in the region is the worst in more than two decades, according to South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris.
And it could get worse as the union workforce in four different industries vow to fight together.
“I’ve been secretary of the labor council for 20 years and in the region longer than that,” Mr Rorris said.
“I can’t recall a time when we’ve had so many different industries being attacked so hard by their employers, by their own bosses.”
In response, representatives from the CFMEU, MUA, AWU and other unions have made a declaration of solidarity to support each other’s battles.
“Our responses on the ground will be escalated,” the declaration stated.
“All industrial, political and physical options will be considered and every action taken by affiliates will be supported by our movement, in our workplaces and in the streets.”
When asked whether that meant steelworkers taking strike action if the situation at the coal terminal went downhill, Mr Rorris said he wouldn’t be “telegraphing our punches to the bosses”.
But he did point out there are workplaces in the region now in periods where protected industrial action is permitted.
“Because of the intransigence and bloody-mindedness of some of these corporations for not wanting to end these disputes and arrive at a reasonable settlement, we have open-ended periods of bargaining in a number of industries where all they need to do is walk or give a couple of days’ notice,” he said.
“The terms on which they do that, the timing of that will be up to them.”
Mr Rorris believed the corporations’ “attacks” are because they want to do their “dirty work” ahead of a possible change in federal government.
“They believe they shouldn’t take the risk and wait for the election when the industrial landscape might change,” he said.