MV Portland’s Sacked Crew Refuse to Sail to Singapore
The 19 crew members aboard the MV Portland have been refusing to sail the ship to Singapore following the announcement on their replacement with a foreign and cheaper crew, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said.
Namely, earlier this month American-based corporation ALCOA, producer of primary aluminum, decided to replace the Australian crew of the general cargo with foreign workers, who will be paid as little as USD 2 an hour.
ALCOA had said that the general cargo ship would be removed from the Australian coast entirely, after plying Australian waters for the past 25 years. The authorities were led to believe that the ship would be scrapped, however the decision on hiring foreign crew was not expected by the union.
“The seafarers were protesting the fact that multi-million dollar, American-based company Alcoa sacked them without reason – the route between Western Australia and Victoria will still be worked, only with a foreign ship and overseas crew,” MUA added.
As informed, the workers have been berthed in Portland for more than a week and received the original Fair Work Commission orders to sail on Monday. The Maritime Union of Australia was granted a stay on Thursday.
“Yesterday, (November 22nd) an appeal lodged by the Maritime Union of Australia was heard in Melbourne by the full bench of the FWC. That appeal was unsuccessful and the crew were again ordered to sail,” the union explained.
Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said it was a disgrace that Alcoa had been allowed to dump Australian workers in favour of foreign workers, who will not be entitled to Australian wages, job protections, safety standards, or conditions.
“Alcoa has exploited a loophole, in that the company was granted a temporary licence by the Turnbull Government, a licence intended for use on foreign trading ships which would call into more than one Australian port. The MV Portland solely trades in Australian waters between Australian ports,” the MUA continued.
The MUA is challenging the use of the Temporary Licence in the Federal Court.
“This is not the first time the government has actively enabled profitable companies to sack workers and offshore jobs, but it is the first time in Australia we are seeing Australian jobs directly replaced by foreign workers,” Bray said.
“It’s maritime workers in this instance but who is to say it won’t be someone else’s job next?”
In an effort to be conciliatory the crew moved the MV Portland to another berth, so another ship could discharge at the smelter.