MUA: Australian unemployed maritime workers to protest in Canberra

Unemployed maritime workers from around Australia plan to stage a protest in front of the Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday to demand urgent action from the Morrison Government to strengthen the Australian shipping industry.

Maritime workers are demanding for the Federal Government to work with the industry to create a national strategic fleet, consisting of dozens of ships capable of carrying fuel, containers, and bulk goods between Australian ports.

“Unemployed seafarers will hold a Jobs Embassy on the Parliament House lawn from 7 a.m., before being joined by supporters and fellow maritime workers for a rally at 11 a.m., “ MUA said.

“Among the protestors will be seafarers from the MV Portland, who undertook a two-month sit-in protest to prevent their vessel being replaced by a flag-of-convenience ship before they were forcibly removed by security guards in the dead of night and replaced by a foreign crew.”

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Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said that since the election of the Coalition Government in 2013, “more than half of the Australian ships that transported cargo between Australian ports have been lost, taking with them more than 500 direct seafarer jobs.”

The union has been a vocal critic of the ever growing presence of foreign-flagged vessels in its waters and ports, which handle approximately ten percent of the world’s sea trade.

It has been urging for several years now for the government to limit presence of vessels flying the so called flags of convenience by introducing cabotage laws for its coastal waters.

Namely, cabotage laws have been identified as the best potential solution to ensure jobs for domestic seafarers and prevent foreign seafarers being exploited as they tend to be underpaid and often faced with sub-standard working and safety conditions.

According to MUA, there are only 12 Australian flagged and crewed cargo ships still operating at the moment.