MUA: MV Portland Crewmembers Forcibly Removed from the Ship

Five crewmembers aboard Alcoa ship the MV Portland were woken at 1am this morning by up to 30 security guards, handed their passports and forcibly removed from the vessel, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) informed.

According to MUA, the MV Portland is en route to Singapore, being sailed by a foreign crew, following a 60-day dispute with Alcoa, triggered when the American–based miner sacked the 40 Australian workers.

The sacked crew was refusing to sail the ship to Singapore following the announcement on their replacement with a foreign and cheaper crew, being paid as little as $2-an-hr.

Commenting on the development, MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said there were many unanswered questions about the legitimacy of Alcoa’s heavy-handed approach in forcibly removing workers in the middle of the night.

“Questions need to be asked about the role of Alcoa and the Australian Government in this,” Mr Crumlin said.

“How did the foreign crew gain permission to enter and then sail the vessel? Where are the crew from? What security checks do they have? What visa are they on?

“When did it suddenly become ok to again send in security guards in the dead of night to forcibly remove a workforce? This sort of thing shouldn’t happen to anyone in their workplace.”

Alcoa has been allowed to utilise a foreign vessel, with a foreign crew after the Turnbull Government granted the company a temporary licence on the exclusively domestic route, which moves cargo between Western Australia and the smelter in Portland.

The MV Portland has plied that route for 27 years. Temporary licences are intended for predominantly foreign trading ships that call into more than one Australian port for a temporary period.