Sydney: Maritime workers protest shipping giant CSL in solidarity with Canadian seafarers

Australian maritime workers will protest outside the head office of CSL Australia tomorrow, both to support Canadian seafarers who are fighting Canada Steamship Lines for job security and a fair contract, and in opposition to CSL replacing Australian crews working in the Australian coastal trade.

CSL Australia, which is owned by CSL Group alongside Canada Steamship Lines, is the largest operator of dry bulk coastal vessels in Australian waters.

The Maritime Union of Australia said members of the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada had stood shoulder to shoulder with Australian seafarers in recent years, as CSL replaced Australian vessels with flag-of-convenience ships registered in tax havens and crewed by exploited foreign workers.

“When CSL Australia launched an assault on Australian-flag vessels and the MUA members who crewed them, SIU Canada members stood by our side, providing their full support in our fight to protect local jobs,” Maritime Union of Australia Deputy National Secretary Warren Smith said.

“With the corporate greed of CSL now threatening the job security of Canadian seafarers, MUA members are returning the favour, providing our full support in their fight for respect, job security, and a fair contract.

“Both the SIU and MUA recognise that we are in one fight against this corporate giant for the right of our respective seafarers to work on their own coast.

“Multinational shipping companies aren’t bound by national borders, which is why it is important that workers around the world fight together to achieve just outcomes.”

Mr Smith said the fight facing Canadian seafarers mirrored what CSL had done in Australia.

“CSL removed four Australian crewed vessels from the coastal trade in recent years, replacing them with flag-of-convenience vessels that operate under temporary licenses,” he said.

“CSL Australia now has seven flag-of-convenience vessels that work consistently on the Australian coast with many other vessels coming in and out of trade.

“CSL has been granted hundreds upon hundreds of temporary licenses allowing them to use exploited foreign workers to carry cargoes between Australian ports at the same time as they are driving Australian crews down the gangway.

“The Federal Government continues to rubber-stamp the use of exploited foreign workers, paid as little as $2 per hour, to crew these vessels that move raw materials used on major construction and infrastructure projects between Australian ports.

“We are continuing our fight against the systematic removal of Australian seafarers from the coastal trade, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with unions around the world in that struggle.”

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