The level of industrial turmoil in the region has seen a line drawn the sand, according to Arthur Rorris.
The South Coast Labour Council secretary was at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal picket line on Tuesday morning for an international show of support.
Seafarers from Canada appeared live on a TV link to back their Australian counterparts who have lost their jobs after BHP put an end to the last two locally-crewed ships ferrying iron ore to BlueScope.
“What we saw today was an amazing display of solidarity from the other side of the world,” Mr Rorris said.
“We’ve had hundreds of Canadian seafarers who took it upon themselves to hit the Australian High Commission in Canada and tell them in no uncertain terms they’re not going to sit back and put up with attacks on their brothers and sisters in Australia.”
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Illawarra unions have banded together after a declaration they would fight all the region’s industrial issues as one battle.
Mr Rorris said the coal terminal workers holding an event in support of the out-of-work seafarers was an example of that.
He said now was the time to “draw a line in the sand” for the future of the region.
“We lose our seafarers, we lose our steelworkers, we lose our dock workers, our coal terminal workers, our miners, where on earth are our kids going to work in this town?” Mr Rorris asked.
He said the decision to sack the seafarers was “just greed”.
Representatives from at least 10 Illawarra unions were at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal picket line on Monday, and Mr Rorris said this was an indication of the concerns in the broader community.
“The people of this region understand better than these corporations ever will what this is about,” he said.
“It’s not just about seafarers and miners, this is about every worker in our community.
“When they watch these people being treated like commodities and discarded like the rubbish, like these companies want to do, they don’t just see those workers, they see themselves.
“And people are telling themselves, ‘if we don’t do something now, we are all going to face this fate’.”