Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin responds to statements by DP World and Shipping Australia
Industrial action undertaken by wharfies has and continues to be completely legal, adheres to the requirements of the Fair Work Act, and aims to minimise potential disruption to the general public.
Workers are taking protected industrial action to stave off corporate attacks on their wages and conditions.
Our industrial action includes clear exemptions for any medical or COVID-19 related cargo, ensuring there are no delays to these important items reaching the community.
All three container terminals in Melbourne have been operating and continue to do so. To suggest otherwise is a blatant lie.
The MUA has been negotiating in good faith with stevedoring companies – in some cases for two years – in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues and deliver agreements that deliver fair outcomes for workers.
DPWA has refused the union’s repeated requests to meet to negotiate a resolution to this dispute – including as recently as yesterday (Monday 10/8).
Shipping Australia should be ashamed of their false and slanderous claims that MUA members are somehow posing a threat to Australian families.
This is nothing more than an outrageous and reprehensible attempt to foment fear and uncertainty among the general public at a time when the COVID-19 health crisis is already causing a great deal of stress and anxiety.
It is shocking to see big business attempt to use community fears to try and achieve industrial and corporate outcomes.
Rather than slander workers, Shipping Australia should be urging stevedoring companies to come to the bargaining table in good faith so these enterprise agreements can be finalised.
Shipping Australia does not represent Australian flag shipping or crews. They are the champion and spokespeople for flag-of-convenience shipping.
We will not be lectured by an industry whose entire business model is built on the exploitation of workers and the avoidance of Australian taxes and regulations through the use of flag-of-convenience vessels, where double book-keeping and massive wage theft are commonplace.
In recent weeks we have seen numerous catastrophic incidents around the world caused by flag-of-convenience shipping.
The horror of the deadly Beirut blast – caused by a dangerous explosive carried on an unseaworthy vessel – has been followed by a state of emergency in Mauritius after the MV Wakashio ran aground, with thousands of tonnes of leaking fuel oil now threatening the archipelago’s iconic reefs and ecosystems.
At the same time, numerous flag-of-convenience vessels have been detained at Australian ports because of unpaid wages and breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention.
The real looming crisis at Australia ports has nothing to do with industrial action, but the fact that 300,000 seafarers remained stranded at sea. With each day that passes, the number of seafarers who have spent more than the maximum allowable time at sea under the Maritime Labour Convention increases, causing them serious hardship and increasing the dangers posed by fatigue.
Instead of moralising about wharfies undertaking legally protected industrial action, Shipping Australia should clean up the chronic abuses in their own industry.
Shipping Australia statement can be found here https://shippingaustralia.com.au/opinion-as-an-industrial-action-crisis-looms-it-is-no-accident-that-enterprise-agreements-have-expired-across-the-waterfront/