Maritime Workers Journal Summer 2020

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N ATI O N A L C O U N C I L p 8 • R E S O L U TI O N S p 5 0



fighting from the front

New Ships on Sunshine State horizon p6

Biden victory, union victory p4

Portland court win p20

Port Botany wharfie & boxer Che Kenneally

Back in the ring p39




NEW SHIPS Qld Labor pledge to create jobs for local seafarers

8 COUNCIL CONCERNS How to narrow the great divide between workers and capital


Company rorts & risks go viral


Defence heavyweights back union call


Newcastle union activist Steve Murray bunks down with exploited crew fearing for their lives

34 ON THE WATERFRONT Bosses resort to lies and legal action


Have your say at upcoming AGMs on the union’s future

COVER: Port Botany wharfie and boxer Che Kenneally INSIDE COVER: Maritime workers join student Strike 4 Climate protest in Sydney’s Martin Place – one of 500 Covid-Safe protests held across Australia & one of 3,000 worldwide


Maritime Workers’ Journal 365-375 Sussex Street Sydney NSW 2000 Contact: (02) 9267 9134 Fax: (02) 9261 3481 Email: Website: MWJ reserves the right at all times to edit and/or reduce any articles or letters to be published. Publication No: 1235 For all story ideas, letters, obituaries, please email



Logging on Construction Forestry Maritime and Mining Union Developments


embers may be aware of reports of some internal tensions between some divisions of the Construction Forestry Maritime and Mining Union. They were predominantly centred around the relationship between the Manufacturing and Construction Divisions and resulted in legal action over coverage. The matter was substantially resolved following the resignation of Michael O’Connor as National Secretary of the CFMMEU. He will remain National Divisional Secretary of the Manufacturing Division. WA Branch Secretary and MUA President, Christy Cain’s name was put forward as a possible replacement for the vacancy. In response, Chris said it was his view that the National Secretary of the new union should not also hold a National Divisional Officer’s position to avoid any conflict of interest. He said that if successful in his nomination he would resign his MUA Officer positions to concentrate all his efforts on continuing to build the strength and unity of the new union in the interests of all members and all divisions, in order to confronting the enormous challenges and threats facing our collective membership and workers generally. He would remain a member of the MUA Division. The National Council of the MUA unanimously supported Comrade Cain’s nomination on that basis. Rule changes would need to be put into place in the Construction Forestry Maritime and Mining Rules to fill a casual vacancy for the National Secretary’s position of the new union on that basis. The MUA will keep members appraised of further developments with the CFMMEU casual vacancy and any subsequent developments that may follow for the MUA Division. •


Paddy Crumlin with Christy Cain

Politics & Personalities


rump’s gone as President after one term and that doesn’t happen too often in US politics. Before Trump, only four one-term Presidents had been voted out in the last 100 years. The extraordinary thing about Trump was that after four years of lies, proven indiscretions and worse, tax minimisation or avoidance and general chaos, he continued to attract such a large vote. Part of it was his appeal to the baser prejudices like racism, the domicile of the morally corrupt and criminally negligent. His isolationist policies were also a factor. The American worker has been badly served by a long line of both Democrat and Republican governments promoting the free trade agenda. Manufacturing industries were shut down, stability and permanency of employment was replaced with part time and casual work. Many workers lost their pensions. A country with no universal health care saw health insurance disappear from many jobs along with penalty rates, sick leave and annual leave. Unemployment ballooned; under-employment exploded. Home

ownership was no longer affordable for many working people, particularly women. The minimum wage went years without adjustment. Anti-union legislation in the “right-to-work” states decimated many workforces and was not balanced by national protection. The only mechanisms capable of defending workers’ rights and entitlements in this environment are the trade unions. Their density in the private sector fell below 10% after a tremendous corporate and political onslaught from the conservatives and the big end of town. Businesses closed; small towns followed. Detroit, Motown, virtually shut down bankrupt. New Orleans rotted away in many areas devastated by the hurricane. Many working families were driven away leaving shattered dreams behind. Trump promised workers he would reverse their losses, give them jobs and generally heal their economic, social and political wounds. Many workers, particularly in the so-called rust belt –traditional heavy industry and mining states – bought his product. Obviously not all deserted him four years later despite his complete lack of delivery and generally outrageous and destructive behaviour. The US is very different from

Australia in many ways and very much like us in others. Neoliberal policies from both sides of politics were in force here when the auto industry shut down, when the steel industry all but shut down, when the refineries closed, and the wheels of manufacturing slowed or stopped. Our minerals, hydrocarbons, farms, ports, roads, rail, power grids, banks, airlines and airports were privatised and sold off – mostly to multinational capital. Shipping, one area even the US knows is essential to national economic security and performance, sold out here to tax-avoiding, labour-exploiting shipping monopolies controlling flag of convenience vessels exempt from anticartel provisions of the Trade Practices Act. The COVID pandemic has made it even more starkly clear to workers here and in every country that the politics and policies of deregulation and neoliberalism have taken away their jobs, security and opportunities. Meanwhile, neo-liberalism ignores or continues to exploit and polarise the world where wealth and elitism thrive alongside poverty, sickness, unemployment and injustice. When a political party finally says what they will do to alleviate the spiralling crisis facing working women and men, their families and communities, then actually does it without backtracking, dissembling and misrepresenting their election undertakings they will gain government and stay there. In the US, Australia, UK and everywhere else. That’s the true test and challenge of political and personal moral courage, emotional intelligence and leadership responsibility for progressive political parties and individuals in government or working with government in a united front. They must address the needs and aspirations of the electorates that put them there, regardless of age, gender and race; in fact, they must enthusiastically and consistently protect that diversity. Otherwise, demagogues like Trump and their true elitist supporters will continue to win the day for their control and power agenda. •

Democrat Victory, A Union Victory


t was the unions who paved the way for a Democrat victory in the US presidential election, campaigning by phone and on foot. When Trump supporters bullied tally counters in Michigan, shouting “stop the vote, stop the count” a call went out to unionists who rallied in force and stared them down. Peacefully. The count continued. Richard L. Trumka, President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) pledged they will do the same on Inauguration Day if Trump refuses to go. An AFL-CIO post Top: Paddy Crumlin, MUA, with Speaker of the House election survey found 58% Nancy Pelosi at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished of unionists voted for Biden. Public Service Awards honouring labour luminaries, hosted by the Teamsters in Washington DC in May 2019. “What a day for peace, Above: The president-elect shoulder to shoulder with human rights, stability, ILWU President Willie Adams, Secretary-Treasurer Ed common sense and a return Ferris and Vice President Bobby Olvera Jr. to putting workers’ lives and health before all else. And a black woman as VP! This is a victory for US working women and men, for workers of every nation in all our diversity,” Paddy Crumlin, MUA National Secretary said. A Biden/Harris government has pledged to restore union rights – the right to organise, the right to strike.Biden visited the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) union rooms (see photo), promising to check the abuse of corporate power and hold corporate executives personally accountable for violations of labour laws. US employers steal about $15B a year from working people, while raking in billions of dollars in profits and paying CEOs tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. The Democrats have promised millions of unionised jobs in clean energy, apprenticeships, training and union representation for every trade deal. International Longshoremen’s Association President Harold J. Daggett described Biden as “a true friend of the ILA and working men and women across America.” “Joe Biden credits his early success in politics to the support of the ILA,” he said. The AFL-CIO awarded VP-elect Kamala Harris a 100% rating for her life-long support for workers in the House. “We have stood together in many battles that have been about fighting for workers’ rights,” she said in a recent address to the ILWU. Another friend of the unions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid tribute to working Americans as the backbone of the economy. •




Palaszczuk re-election delivers $21M for coastal shipping and ports


ustralian flagged and crewed ships will once again ply the Queensland coast under a re-elected Palaszczuk state Labor Government. On the eve of the election the government pledged a $21M maritime investment package over two years. The investment will include a new Townsville to Brisbane shipping service providing 26 maritime worker jobs per ship plus a further commitment of $1M for maritime training and apprenticeships; a commitment to keep ports in public hands, maritime apprenticeships and training. “This initiative delivers seafaring jobs and strengthens Australia’s supply chains by increasing the use of locally owned and crewed vessels on the Queensland coast,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. It comes on the back of the Maritime Jobs Taskforce, established earlier this year.


MUA Queensland Branch Secretary Stephen Cumberlidge applauded the move, saying it would deliver quality regional jobs. “This investment in the ‘blue highway’ along Queensland’s coast will not only create jobs for local seafarers, it will strengthen the maritime supply chains that are vital for keeping the state’s economy ticking,” he said. It will increase marine safety and protect the Great Barrier Reef by using highly skilled local seafarers, he added. The fiscal incentives would go to new and existing operators to create a Brisbane Townsville shipping service and for existing trades to switch to Queensland crew. Assistant State Secretary Paul Gallagher said this could see two ships - one dedicated liner vessel servicing Brisbane to Townsville and one Ro Ro vessel that could service smaller ports like Cairns. “All Qld branch officials have worked hard for a long time on the back of our rank and file campaign to achieve government backing to put our seafarers back up the gangway. The key to pushing actual fiscal support to supplement a good shipping policy was having Deputy Secretary Jason Miners on the Maritime Jobs Task Force advising on the recommendations of the Intrastate shipping enquiry. We congratulate the ALP government for announcing financial support but there is still a lot of work to do,” Gallagher said. “We expect that the re elected government will stand with us and replace foreign seafarers with local seafarers on the Rio Tinto Bauxite trade. Ships that trade between two Queensland ports carrying Queensland resources and should be employing Queensland crews. We think the government supports that,” he added. “We would also now like to address Fuel Security in Queensland. With all remote cities in Queensland now relying on 100% imported fuel there needs to be an Australian crewed and registered Tanker to service remote Queensland from the Brisbane refinery. These long awaited initiatives should set the precedent for the federal government finally address the problem we have with relying on foreign shipping”. ”Under the Government proposal, 40 new maritime jobs would be

MUA NQ organiser Dave Lyons and children fighting for the next generation of seafarers (above); Paul Gallagher, MUA on board the SL Herbert with Mark Bailey, transport minister and Scott Stewart, Townsville MP, announcing the state’s $22M new shipping investment (below)

created over two years. The aim is both to encourage more Queensland workers on Queensland trade routes and provide traineeships for the next generation of maritime workers. The government will commission an audit of Queensland maritime-based work to identify skills shortages. It will invest $1M to support maritime companies and registered training organisations to deliver cadetships so Australian workers can qualify for maritime jobs or upskill to marine pilots or engineers. Expressions of interest to partner with industry on coastal shipping proposals are expected to go out before the end of the year. “We will provide fee relief and training and wage subsidies to ensure a level play field for Queensland workers,” the government pledged.

The government will also set up a Maritime Industry Consultation group to bring employers and workers together to identify new opportunities. The initiatives come from the MUA submission to the parliamentary inquiry into sustainable intrastate coastal shipping in January 2019. “Coastal shipping is a vital cog in our state with 7000 kilometres of coastline and 16 trading ports,” the government announced. Backing the local maritime sector and increasing skills means better response to crises like pandemics, cyclones, fires and floods. Ready access to coastal shipping also maintains essential transport links, without being dependent on international supply chains. “So many foreign seafarers testing positive to COVID-19 emphasised the risk that an almost totally foreign crewed shipping industry poses in Australia,” the policy paper stressed. National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said Australia was caught unprepared by the COVID pandemic. “It has highlighted the threat to our sovereignty caused by a dependence on foreign shipping for domestic and international trade,” he said. “As we move towards the recovery phase from the COVID crisis, steps that strengthen the resilience of our supply chains and ensure our island nation is served by skilled Australian seafarers should be commended.” Since first elected the state government has invested $193M in stage one of a $1.64B Townsville port expansion along with a $29.3M investment in container handling equipment. •



COUNCIL N IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 Union holds its first online council meeting in midst of global pandemic

ational Council of the Maritime Union of Australia division, Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union met in October, for the first time since the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic. National Indigenous officer and Honorary NT Deputy Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor opened conference with an acknowledgement of country and First Nations people. Using online technology, linking national with branch offices around the country, councillors came together to consider issues confronting the union. “The world has changed, and it won’t change back,” said National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. “But the threats haven’t changed. The polarisation of power, globally, the widening gap between the haves and have nots and the massive consolidation of wealth have never been greater.” Over two days, councillors considered key campaigns, policies and priorities in support of workingclass rights identified at the union’s Quadrennial National Conference in March the which will go to a vote of members at Annual General Meetings in November. Guest speakers included Labor leader Anthony Albanese, infrastructure shadow minister Catherine King, WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle and Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus. International guests included Symplicio Marques Ximenes Founder and President, AMTL - Maritime Union Timor Leste and Serafico Natalino Soares (Raffi) Board Management, AMTL.

“The world has changed, and it won’t change back. But the threats haven’t changed.” Councillors stand for one minutes silence in honour of the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the WestGate Bridge, Victoria’s worst industrial accident and the 35 workers who died.


– Paddy Crumlin



The key to making the amalgamated union a success is consolidating political and financial power, while building unity and retaining the MUA identity – no small task for a division made up of around 12,000 members in an overall union of 110,000. “This is about building the vanguard of the union, without losing our militancy, industrial strength and independence in national in defence of maritime workers,” Crumlin said. A committee on the Future of the Union would come back with a proposition and strategy going forward, he said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese began his address to National Council from Newcastle acknowledging the traditional owners of the land before also acknowledging maritime workers for keeping the docks and ships going during the global crisis. Albanese said the global pandemic had shown how vulnerable the nation was to international shocks. It highlighted how important good shipping policy was for workers, national security, the environment and the economy. “The current system is unsustainable, the abuse of the temporary licences and maritime crew visas is just not on,” he said. “We went to the last election with a policy for a vibrant, strategic Australian fleet. It was a good policy then and even better policy now.” Albanese attacked the government’s hypocrisy of touting Australian job creation, while replacing Australian seafarers on the coast with foreign seafarers. WA Senator Glenn Sterle described the licensing of foreign vessels and crew on the Australian trade as a terrible curse on the MUA membership and the whole transport chain. “A major trucking employer came to me and pleaded for it to stop, saying it was killing the whole supply chain,” Steele said. Shadow infrastructure minister Catherine King reiterated Labor’s commitment to cabotage and training Australians to work in the shipping industry.

WORKERS’ CAPITAL The national secretary spoke on how the global workers’ capital movement was challenging the exploitation and inherent corruption imbued in market capitalism, including money laundering, executive greed and largesse and political patronage in self interest. “It is about applying pressure so social, governance and environmental elements, alongside the right to bargain and Freedom of Association are all included in investment decisions,” he said. It was incumbent on the international trade union movement to be able to give leverage in the fight back against this executive largesse and economic deregulation allowing for tax evasion. This is why industry super was under attack. “The federal government is seeking to create a regulatory environment promoting the avoidance of scrutiny by attacking industry funds,” said Crumlin. “They are trying to separate super from workers and make sure the are separated from how their deferred wages in super are invested.” Crumlin said the union worked hard to ensure workers had dignity in retirement. Merging maritime and miners’ super was important to keep the funds viable. Meanwhile Industry Super Australia was planning a $19.5B pipeline of investment in projects and assets to drive national productivity and create 200,000 jobs over the next three years.

“We went to the last election with a policy for a vibrant, strategic Australian fleet. It was a good policy then and even better policy now.” – Anthony Albanese

“They are dumping on us and forcing us down the gangway.” – Warren Smith “It’s disgraceful the way crews have been treated,” she said. Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray heads the union shipping campaign. He said the Canadian cabotage model held potential for Australian coastal shipping. Yet in Australia, Canadian Steamship Lines’ use of temporary licences (TL) was out of control. Union research uncovered 25 TL CSL vessels, while the one remaining Australian crewed vessel was being laid up in Malaysia due to no work, according to Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith. “They are dumping us and forcing us down the gangway, while flying FOC seafarers to work in our cabotage trades,” he said. Some of the TL vessels on the coast were former Australian vessels, which were sold to their own subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, renamed and brought back under a flag of convenience, with exploited international crew. The International Transport Workers’ Federation was investigating how to use the Modern Slavery Act against Fortescue and others, after a bunch of mining executives decided 20 seafarers on the Panama flagged Vega Dream carrying Australian iron ore should sail despite an outbreak of the virus on board.

CREW CRISIS Elsewhere, exhausted crew, sometimes 18 months at sea, are floating off Hay Point coal terminal and all around the coast, ITF Australia Co-ordinator Dean Summers said. A cocktail of fatigue and exploitation made the risk of groundings and collisions all the greater. At the same time there were few controls over isolation and testing of crew in labour supply countries such as India and the Philippines. Pick up crew were often infected with COVID-19.



The ITF is calling for a task force to ensure labour supply countries have Australian standards, not Manila standards, otherwise unions would persist in demanding 14 days at sea quarantine before ships came into port. “The government threatened to call in the army over a four hour waterfront dispute,” said Summers, “But they are doing nothing about the ships banking up, choking trade all around the coast,” he said.

STEVEDORING On the waterfront, enterprise agreements were protracted and heated with all four stevedoring negotiations now in play. (See p28). Good reason, Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said, for the union to explore options for a return to industry employment. “Workers have grown up under the enterprise agreement system,” he said. “Our policy is to move back to industry agreements.” This would provide opportunities to address the peaks and troughs in the industry through transfers and industry labour pools. It could also improve industrial relations and help address the power imbalance between global terminal operators and increasingly small groups of employees on the ground. Rather than having to negotiate multiple agreements at the end of each work contract, it would be just the one. Industry employment was the norm on the waterfront up until the 1990s and is still in place in the USA and many parts of Europe.

LEGAL Meanwhile employers were again resorting to court action to prevent workers taking protected industrial action and safety stoppages. Union lawyers are battling employers in no less than 15 legal cases in various jurisdictions. Chevron and Portland have been successes for the union as was its defence against the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Federal Court action over alleged unprotected industrial action at Hutchison. Maersk, DP World, Patrick Stevedores, Teekay, Qube, Smit Lamnalco Towage, Svitzer and further Hutchison cases are ongoing. Prime Minister Morrison


“The polarisation of power, globally, the widening gap between the haves and have nots and the massive consolidation of wealth have never been greater.” – Paddy Crumlin even refused to rule out sending in the military to ‘settle’ a waterfront dispute.

NATIONAL SECURITY LEGISLATION At the same time, the government is trying to push through legislation to deny workers a Maritime Security ID Card based on an intelligence assessment by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. It means a worker could lose his or her job, based not on a conviction, but on a rumour or suspicion that the ACIC believes to be true. The union is lobbying to block the draconian legislation in the Senate in November.

FINANCE & MEMBERSHIP Ongoing legal battles combined with the downturn and pandemic job loses impacted on union finances and superannuation savings. Border closures and the recession removed offshore vessels from the coast. Membership is in decline. But restrictions on travel and growing use of online video conferencing have created savings. “We’re using zoom to galvanise campaigns and involve the rank and file, by finding new efficient and more economic ways to defend the membership,” said Crumlin.

OFFSHORE Offshore oil and gas have also been hit hard by the pandemic with Maersk, Swire, Atlas and Toll workers all facing redundancies. Australian Offshore Solutions and GO Offshore are using a Norwegianstyle roster with members taking leave without pay or getting top ups with the JobKeeper subsidy. After growing membership over two years to 1,333, the Offshore Alliance with the Australian Workers’ Union has also been hit by the downturn. The Alliance covers 17 offshore facilities and 63 companies. However, 96 members are now unemployed due to job losses across the hydrocarbon industry. “Companies are throwing plenty of resources at pushing back legally where possible against the union,” Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey reported. On a more positive note three new offshore wind projects are now on the table, Tracey reported.

OFFSHORE WIND Alongside the 2.2-gigawatt Star of the South project off Gippsland, Victoria Pilot Energy are proposing a 1.1 GW offshore wind and onshore wind and solar power project South of Geraldton in WA. A huge, 10 GW, Newcastle proposal is also on the table. It is so big, the project could have its own local renewable manufacturing base. “We’ve got plenty of space in the port for offshore wind construction and maintenance,” said Tracey. “A project of this size is getting a lot of attention. We are looking for money from super to be thrown in. We are well ahead of the transition from LNG.” Since council met a fourth 360MW offshore wind proposal, for Burnie, Tasmania, has come to light. The union is also supporting research into possible other locations for Australian offshore wind projects. Queensland Branch Secretary Steve Cumberlidge reported on a pre-election pledge of the state government to invest $20 million in a government owned renewable energy agency. The union is also supporting the student climate strikes (see p2). “Full credit to this union, we are well ahead of the game,” said Tracey.

“Sometimes it was the only call they’d had in a month,” said Doleman. “So many lives, so many marriages, so many homes have been saved, by the bank giving support when needed.” While the Royal Commission into banking uncovered corruption and criminal activity with big banks, APRA is coming after community banking instead, Doleman warned. “We are targeted for our political views and our views about restructuring wealth,” he said.

VETERANS FIRST NATIONS Thomas Mayor, gave reported on First Nation union issues alongside MUA seafarer indigenous seafarer Vicky-Ree Morta. He reported on a new initiative of holding monthly online meetings for indigenous, youth and women to provide the opportunity to develop future leaders. Polling had shown growing support for a ‘yes’ vote supporting constitutional change. While the government had initially dismissed the right of First Nations people to have a voice in parliament protected in the constitution, it is now reconsidering, Thomas reported. Thomas also reported on how the Black Lives Matter movement had put a mirror up against our own society and deaths in custody. “We had around one million people march in the streets, here,” he said. “Probably the biggest mobilisation of Australian support of First Nations people ever.” Meanwhile, the union had been successful in negotiating indigenous jobs with Gorgon and INPEX and Henderson and Hutchison. In Queensland a new company taking over Brisbane Ferries is taking on three indigenous crew.


National women’s officer Mich-Elle Myers reported on the campaign to get the Australian government to adopt ILO Convention 190 on

Violence and Harassment in the World of Work (see p32). Myers also called on national councillors to ensure domestic violence clauses were included in all enterprise agreement negotiations. She stressed the need to address gender balance in union governance, including having a woman on national executive.


During the pandemic, Unity Bank has been playing a key role in helping workers and veterans, by waiving loan repayments and reaching out to those in need. Chair Mick Doleman and Manager David Gilbert reported on the more than 500 members with $110 million in loan portfolios needing assistance. Bank staff had made 20,000 calls to members, many of them living alone, many not tech savvy, many without bank cards.

“So many lives, so many marriages, so many homes have been saved, by (Unity) Bank giving support when needed.” – Mick Doleman

In his address to national council, Jimmy Donovan, president MUA Veterans’ Association reflected on a decline in workers’ rights. “Before we had to struggle for what we got, but the struggle today is to hang on to what we gained,” he said. Donovan congratulated the union on the outstanding advancement of union democracy. At his first national conference in 1967 only two international guests were invited. At this year’s conference there were 200. “Every rank and file organisation was also represented,” he said. Secretary Fred Krausert told council that the work of the vets had not stopped during the pandemic with vets joining union pickets and campaigns. “We’ve written to assure our members we will continue to work together,” he said. “Comrades, our members are in dire straits. This government is the worst in history attacking the aged and less privileged. “ National Secretary Paddy Crumlin recognised the struggle of the union veterans to set up workers’ super for future generations, even though they did not get benefit themselves.


Council closed with a look to the future. MUA youth now make up around one in six members (2183). At the height of the pandemic it was youth who led car convoys in support of sacked ferry workers outside NRMA offices. During the Black Lives Matter and climate action rallies, MUA youth were also at the forefront, national organiser and youth leader Aarin Moon reported. Liam Kelly, Newcastle tugs will represent MUA youth at the ACTU. •



COVID STRIKES Maritime workers have acted to enforce safety measures despite opposition from negligent or careless employers


aritime workers have had to resort to safety stoppages in response to company cover ups and employers flouting pandemic safety regulations. This is according to an MUA submission to a Senate Joint Standing Committee inquiry into the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australia’s foreign affairs, defence and trade. In several cases, workers had to stop work to get their employer to implement physical distancing measures in line with health advice – even in workplaces with workers testing positive to COVID-19, the union submitted. Employers accused workers and the union of taking illegal industrial action, penalised individuals and, in one case, is taking the union to court. When stevedoring workers at


“Social distancing does not apply in workplaces, but only in social situations” – Qube

Hutchison, Port Botany and Patrick, Fremantle stopped work either due to workmates testing positive or biosecurity risks, they were stood down, off pay. In Melbourne, DP World workers were stood down after refusing to work due to a biosecurity risk on board the Xin Da Lian in April. All four disputes were before the Fair Work Commission. Meanwhile, instead of agreeing to industry talks on uniform standards for the global health emergency, some employers resorted to essential services legislations to limit workers’ rights, petitioning the Governor General. Workers at high risk of the virus due to heart transplants or chemotherapy had been denied paid leave. Others, who were in close contact with infected family or friends were denied sick leave. “In response to requests from

workers not to be crowded into a minibus with co-workers, senior managers at the logistics company Qube told the union, “social distancing does not apply in workplaces, but only in social situations”. Melbourne tug workers, asking employers to drop the ‘standby’ or captive time living on board vessels during the pandemic were overruled by Port of Melbourne management. Companies are also using the pandemic to claim exemption from ‘duty of care’ even if a serious harm or fatality is likely. Under the self-regulation model, there has been a breakdown of work health and safety systems in the maritime industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the union argued. Both the seafarer workforce (largely out of sight), the onshore port workforce and the community were unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19 through both regulatory and employer failure. This highlights the need for fundamental reform of Australian work, health and safety laws, the union contends. Australia’s laws do not recognise the imbalance of power in workplaces and fail to adequately protect workers. The union is calling for the right for workers to stop work if there is an “imminent and immediate exposure to hazard.” A new work health and safety pandemic regulation, paid pandemic leave for all workers and a legal obligation on employers to protect workers’ safety is also required. It should be compulsory for companies to notify local health authorities and WHS regulators about any COVID-19 workplace infection. WHS committees and unions should be fully involved in identifying and isolating contacts in the workplace when a worker has tested positive. Providing pandemic leave for all close contacts on 14 days’ pay is essential to preventing the spread of the virus in workplaces and the community. Job redesign including physical distancing, intensive cleaning and provision of personal protective equipment is also essential. Workplaces must temporarily shut when a worker tests positive, the submission argued. •

Pandemic sinks ships

The COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian ships like a torpedo. In the space of three months, three new builds were sunk. TT-Line cancelled two new builds, SeaRoad cancelled construction of their new build and Serco delayed construction of a new icebreaker. Meanwhile union efforts to have the Aurora Australis repurposed as an emergency response vessel have been ignored. All companies face a downturn or financial challenges. “But as disappointing as the news is, we never lost a ship through the COVID era,” National Council reported.


Australian seafarers still crew all four LNG tankers trading with Asia off the NW Shelf and the union has successfully defended existing cabotage trades in the Bass Strait and bauxite trades. The union campaign has succeeded in stemming the loss of more Australian coastal ships and the Queensland branch has successfully lobbied for the state government to set up a Maritime Jobs Taskforce in support of coastal shipping if re-elected. Meanwhile TT-Line, despite suspension of passenger services between Melbourne and Tasmania, have offered training for 50% of crew over the coming months. The pandemic exposed weaknesses in supply chain resilience and supply chain security, national council reported. This has opened up new opportunities to press for fuel security, a strategic fleet and an increased union role in cruise shipping. •



Unions push for

GREEN LANES As offshore workers kept from work and family



t is easier to fly in someone from a world virus hotspot to work in the Australian offshore industry, than for Australian workers to get to and from the job. “How is it that employers are allowed to bring people overseas from global hotspots but not hire people from interstate?” asks Western Australia Branch organiser George Gakis. “This is outrageous and makes no sense. We need to prioritise local workers.” Six months back MWJ reported on frustrations offshore workers faced undergoing quarantine once they crossed the WA border to work a swing, then once again when they got home to their families. The union campaigned successfully to get them paid ‘dead time’ in hotel quarantine. But when Victoria went into lock down again on 9 July after a second wave of COVID-19 that also spread to NSW, WA shut its borders completely to both states, cutting off up to half its offshore workforce. The shutdown could force offshore oil and gas operators to bring in workers from the US, Greece and other countries. One company, Trident, told Channel 9 News they were able to apply to have foreign crew enter WA to join the vessels with 14 days isolation in a hotel. They did not understand why the same rule was not available to their Victorian crew. Offshore drill ship engineer Dustin Roberts got three knock backs before telling his story to news media. “I’m just waiting on a visa so I can get in as a critical worker because there are no other first engineers in Western Australia that can fill my role,” Roberts told The Australian daily. “My relief is due off on the 26th. So, I will need to be in Perth by August 11 to do the 14 days quarantine and join the ship. And if I can’t get there by the 11th, they will be replacing me with a bloke from Greece.” Roberts got an exemption that day. National Secretary Paddy Crumlin warned the deeply flawed exemption systems could shut industries and have dire economic implications. Gakis said union lawyers had since reviewed the state restrictions and successfully found ways to get workers back into the state.

“A whole heap of members have temporary relocated to WA,’ he said. “We managed to squeeze a few dollars out of employers to help cover costs. Some have brought their families. Some have permanently relocated.” Newly elected Labor member Kristy McBain (Eden Monaro) spoke out for workers also facing job losses due to mismanagement of border closures elsewhere. Essential workers like Warren Sunderland, a seafarer from Bermagui had been in Bass Strait for the past four weeks working on a platform supply vessel. “Warren goes to work so that gas can be delivered to Victoria and NSW,” she said. “Despite having all the required paperwork, Warren is currently in two weeks of quarantine in Sydney, five hours from his partner and five kids back home. Even worse, as a casual worker, Warren is now worried he’ll lose his job.” McBain said it should be possible to ensure the health and safety of communities while balancing the economic drivers that keep local families and towns afloat.


In August, the union called on national cabinet to establish Green Lanes to allow maritime workers to travel interstate between work and home. The ACTU executive backed the call acknowledging the significant impact WA border closures and restrictions had on maritime and resource workers. “Workers are unable to access WA without exemptions,” the ACTU executive resolved on 29 July. “The new exemption criteria in WA makes that process almost impossible to transit between work and home.” The ACTU noted that quarantine isolation and job insecurity was harming workers’ mental and physical health. A motion moved by the MUA representatives on ACTU executive, Christy Cain and Mich-Elle Myers, called on the government to recognise the industry’s national significance and how skilled maritime workers were essential to trade and the economy. •



hen MUA seafarer Warren Sunderland flew into Sydney airport from the Bass Strait in September and showed his key work permit, he was detained by border security and put in hotel quarantine. “I was in the critical worker line, paperwork in hand,” he said. “My wife Kirsty was waiting outside in the car to take me home. But the border security lady told me all my paperwork was no - Warren Sunderland good. I assured her it was.” The rules had changed. Warren would have to do hotel quarantine for two weeks. They told him it was because he had flown through Tullamarine airport, considered a hot spot, he could not go home otherwise. Warren’s wife was left waiting outside. Kirsty had driven 380 kilometres from Bermagui on the south coast that night to bring him home. “I rang her saying look I can’t see you. They won’t let me. You are going to have to drive home by yourself.” It was a six hour drive. Kirsty didn’t get home to the kids until 4.30 in the morning. She cried all the way. Meanwhile Warren sat on the bus parked outside the Novotel Hotel until 1.30 in the morning. “They’d only let one person off the bus at a time,” he said. When it was his turn to check in and Warren tried to argue with police and border control, he was threatened with arrest. “I had to spend 14 days in quarantine against my will, when all I tried to do was go to work,” he said. When Warren challenged the police officer about why he should not have been incarcerated she said: “Think yourself lucky, we have the right to hold you for 28 days if we want.” “The thing is everyone else off that vessel all got home – it was just the four of us from NSW who were detained,” he said. “We’d been on board the vessel the whole time, taking our temperatures every day for four weeks. We hadn’t stepped ashore. We had no contact with anyone in Victoria. No one could tell me what had changed. I rang a million people, politicians everyone. My local MP Kristy McBain stood up for me. She is really going in to bat for seafarers.” When the Integrated Rating, Stage 3 crane driver did finally get home, things only got worse. “I was sent a bill for my incarceration,” he said. “But I flew inside the moratorium when quarantine was still free.” The department admitted the error, but insisted on a long bureaucratic process and lots of paperwork. Now Warren is worried about losing his job. “Work is not going to pay for me to quarantine each time I finish a swing,” he said. “It’s a disgrace the way I was treated as an Australian and a critical worker.” Warren made it home across the border again on 3 November and is now in home isolation. “I’m away from my family in my shed,” he said. “I have a caravan and a man cave with shower, toilet, TV and fridge.” At the airport workers were told they were the last ones seen to because they took the longest to process. “It took two and a half hours to process. The critical workers that I spoke to were universally disgusted at our treatment,” he said. •

“I had to spend 14 days in quarantine against my will, when all I tried to do was go to work”




hile the WA government is shutting its land borders to Australian seafarers, it is leaving gaping biosecurity holes in its ports for foreign vessels and crew. A spate of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships in recent weeks made headlines. The Al Messilah livestock carrier had 36 seafarers on board when taken into hotel quarantine in October – 24 tested positive to the virus.


At the same time two Filipino seafarers on a bulk carrier Key Integrity also tested positive. WA Health reports the vessel left Manila on 6 October where a crew exchange had taken place. Meanwhile Port Hedland recorded two cases of the virus in one month. The Liberian flagged Patricia Oldendorff finally sailed in October, after ignoring an offer from the union for unemployed Australian seafarers to replace the 18 of its 20 crew who had contracted the virus. Also in October, eight crew tested positive to the virus on board the BHP chartered iron ore carrier Vega Dream. One was taken ashore when the ship was loading, and the ship returned to the Philippines soon after with the virus still on board. Prior to the discovery of COVID-19 on board, the crew had direct contact with BHP’s port workers. The ship’s crew worked alongside Western Australian Port Services employees and wharfies wearing only face masks to mitigate any risk. “While the vessel was alongside, the crew of the Vega Dream used a bucket over the side of the vessel to pass iPads and paperwork to BHP employees,” said WA branch secretary Christy Cain. Port workers went back to driving vehicles and operating ship loaders as normal before returning home to their families and the community. “The Vega Dream was alongside in G Berth on Finucane Island, right in the heart of the Port of Port Hedland,” said Cain. BHP and Pilbara Ports have no special procedures in place to deal with vessels that arrive in WA after spending less than 14 days at sea. “It is crazy to expect a ship’s master to report a suspected case of COVID – causing substantial delays to a vessel and significant economic loss to the shipowner – if he stands to lose his job as a result,” he added. “We’ve had input on how they treat the seafarers,” said ITF WA inspector Keith McCorriston. “The crew have been put ashore, isolated then returned to ship after 14 days and testing clear of the virus. We’re happy with the outcomes except for the Patricia Oldendorff. Shocking decision. It should never have been allowed to sail with crew testing positive on board.”•

Darwin leads the way

‘The Minister for Health was on our side from the start.’ Andrew Burford

Corporate Rorts

Darwin port has set the gold standard for pandemic work safety. At the outset of the pandemic in early March, the union held talks with the Northern Territory Department of Health about the impact of vessels arriving in Territory waters before the 14-day quarantine limit was announced. “The Minister for Health was on our side from the start and was totally onboard with health checks being performed on all vessels under the time frame,” MUA Branch Secretary Andrew Burford reported to National Council. At first the union was allocated doctors from within the Health Department, but as the virus worsened, the government outsourced health screening checks to a private company (Golden Glow Nursing). The union praised the company for their professional approach including documenting every seafarer arriving into Darwin. Ships’ agents and stevedores want nothing to do with organising the checks, however. Despite Darwin being just a day or two sail from Southeast Asia, it is left to the branch to ensure members walking up gangways and the seafarers on the vessels remain as safe as possible. • The pandemic has led to an outbreak of companies using government handouts for commercial investments, the MUA has revealed. The union provided examples in its submission to the Senate Joint Standing Committee inquiring into the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australia’s foreign affairs, defence and trade. Companies getting JobKeeper payments, including Qube and employers in the offshore oil and gas industry, have attempted to rort the system to maximise their own financial results at the expense of their workforce. “Within days of announcing they were applying for JobKeeper, Qube also announced a share issue to raise capital,” the union reported. “The intention was this money could be used to take over other logistics companies in financial difficulties.” Qube has also required workers to pay some of the JobKeeper payments back over time. The union is now considering legal action following a precedent Qantas unions set in the Federal Court. Meanwhile, Qube have threatened to make some workers redundant, while still receiving JobKeeper payments. The MUA raised concerns over JobKeeper Enabling Directions cutting across workplace agreements and allowing companies to stand down workers and change their working conditions. •





he global pandemic has exposed dangerous gaps in Australia’s supply chain and demonstrates the need for urgent reform of Australian shipping, Maritime Union National Secretary Paddy Crumlin told the public hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs in September. “There’s nothing good about COVID,” said Crumlin. “But it has starkly demonstrated the abrogation of responsibility to regulate our critical shipping industry by state and particularly federal regulators.” The national secretary said this not only put Australia’s public health at risk, but also, in the longer run, national security and the economy. “Australia was caught unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “This global crisis (is) highlighting the urgent need to reduce Australia’s dependency on foreign shipping in both domestic and international trade.” Crumlin stressed that in the postCOVID recovery phase our economic,


“Ships are almost like the blood running through the arteries in your body.” – Blackburn

social and political futures depended on taking back the coastal supply chain and crewing our blue highway with Australian seafarers. Cabotage policy remains central to any reform, according to the union. Cabotage applies to over 100 countries in the world, it is not the exception to the rule; it is the rule. The key recommendation of the union submission was Australian seafarers crewing a core fleet of fuel tankers and large trading vessels carrying essential goods, both domestically and internationally. This was a platform Labor took to the federal election in 2018. Investing in shipping, said Crumlin, was like investing in port infrastructure or pipelines. “As the number of Australiancrewed vessels declines, not only are quality jobs lost, but our country is left vulnerable to global shocks that can disrupt maritime trade,” he said. These concerns were backed by Air Vice- Marshal John Blackburn (retired), Chair of the Institute for

“This global crisis (is) highlighting the urgent need to reduce Australia’s dependency on foreign shipping” – Crumlin

Integrated Economic Research, Australia. “Ships are almost like the blood running through the arteries in your body,” he told the Senate committee. “At the heart of a national security strategy there should be a maritime trade strategy that also, of course, addresses Australian shipping. Today in Australia neither a national security strategy nor trade strategy exists.” Blackburn highlighted how 98% of all Australian trade by volume is by sea. “What would be the impact on the Australian way of life if these supply chains were interrupted even for a few weeks?” he asked. “Would we be prepared for the consequences, given that, for example, we import 90% of our fuels, 90% of our medicines?” Blackburn also warned of the growing risk of regional conflict. “(This) cannot simply be allayed by the fundamental assumption that we make in Australia that our security is assured by the US alliance,” he said. “Whilst the relationship with the US people and the US military is strong, the behaviour of the US administration over the past three years means that we would be fools to not consider the possibility that the US either could not or may not be our security guarantee against an aggressor in the future.” Blackburn advocated a ‘smart sovereignty model’. This would mean having core Australian owned or controlled capabilities, Australian based manufacturing supply chains and a skilled workforce. Complete self-reliance was unnecessary, he stressed. But Australia needs to have capabilities for crisis and a strategic fleet would be a key component.

Australia was now almost completely dependent on foreign owned shipping with only four Australian flagged ships of 2,000 tonnes and above capable of international trade. Fuel, iron ore, bauxite, aluminium, cement, construction materials, sugar and container imports were almost 100% transported in foreign ships. Seventeen Australian cargo ships and 544 seafarer jobs have been lost since the election of the Abbott Government in 2013. The union proposes a strategic fleet to include petroleum product tankers, dry bulk commodity ships, container ships, emergency towage vessel, emergency response ships, research and supply vessel, offshore wind installation and maintenance ships, training ships and auxiliary Navy vessels – all crewed by Australian seafarers. As a first step Australia should: • reduce its dependence on foreign shipping for essential goods and high-risk cargoes like ammonium nitrate and fuel • strengthen the Coastal Trading Act to ensure that it actually supports Australian vessels • support a domestic cruise sector • acquire Australian ships to service renewable energy, like offshore wind. In closing Crumlin lamented how countless union submissions in support of Australian shipping over the decades had largely gone ignored. “It feels a bit like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem,” said Crumlin. “You pray for a better world. But I’m not wailing; all I’m doing is bashing my head against a brick wall.” The hope is that in the light of a global crisis governments may see the light. •




vessel was not trading at the time of the protest, and, after a five and a half year legal battle, won. “This is a significant victory for the 10 brave Australian seafarers who spent two months on board this vessel, without pay, in an effort to defend one of the few remaining Australian-registered vessels trading on our coast,” said Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray. “The only way multi-national companies like Alcoa have been able to get away with slashing the jobs of Australian seafarers is because the Federal Government continues to support this race to the bottom by court action and the issuing temporary licenses to use foreign vessels with exploited crews on coastal shipping routes.” •

© Image Agence 2015

en Australian seafarers who took a stand over the loss of their ship in Portland in 2015 won an important court victory in August. The crew of the MV Portland were facing fines of between $800-$60,000 each for the two month long sit-in that ended with security guards escorting them off their ship in the dead of night and replacing them with foreign seafarers. The Australian seafarers were protesting a company decision to replace the ship with a flag of convenience vessel crewed by exploited international workers on the Australian coast. The Fair Work Ombudsman took the matter to the Federal Court, alleging unlawful industrial action and prosecuting the union for damages on behalf of the company. The MUA argued the


© Image Agence 2015

CREW VISA SCAM Open slather on the Australian coast opens doors for organised crime


aritime crew visas are being used to smuggle illegal immigrants into Australia – further exposing the dangers of deregulation of the coastal trade under successive conservative governments. Organised crime syndicates are selling maritime crew visas (MCVs) on the black market for up to $10,000 each, the Sydney Daily Telegraph reported. Australian embassies in India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere have posted warnings about scams involving fake MCVs on their websites. MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin raised the issue at a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs in September. “There’s no control over maritime crew visas,” he said. “They’re going for $10,000 each on the black market.” Subclass 988 MCVs are provided to crew on foreign ships given temporary licences to trade on the Australian coast. It is a transit visa designed for seafarers on international ships that are only in a port for short periods during loading and unloading operations as part of an international voyage. Up to 300,000 different foreign seafarers from many nations have been employed on the 17,000plus Temporary Licence voyages undertaken since the Act commenced on 1 July, 2012. No checks whatsoever are undertaken on their qualifications,

their immunisation record or health status, the union warned. In times of a global pandemic this also creates a major biosecurity risk. Crumlin said the lack of government scrutiny when issuing the MCVs was a travesty. “It is dangerous and it belies the fact that risk mitigation lies at the heart of good governance in this country,” he said. “Wage slavery is going on out there, incarceration is going on out

“There’s no control over maritime crew visas. They’re going for $10,000 each on the black market.” – Paddy Crumlin there—and temporary licences. The blind eye that is being turned to that is right at the heart of that negligence. I would suggest to you that, if it wasn’t the government, it is almost criminal negligence, because there is much organised crime.” Addressing the Senate committee, Dean Summers, Australia Coordinator of the International Transport Workers’ Federation said that while there was a government approval process for MCVs there were no checks. “Effectively, the company puts a

crew list through the machine,” he said. “It goes through to Border Force. They say, ‘Yes, all of this crew can have maritime crew visas for three years.’ That takes about 24 or maybe 48 hours. Ours (clearance for Australian seafarers) take three to four months sometimes. It’s just crazy.” The union is calling for a review of the temporary licence for foreign vessels to trade on the Australian coast and a total review of maritime crew visas. The Telegraph said MCVs can be obtained online from outside Australia and they allow holders to enter and leave Australia multiple times over a three-year period if they arrive by sea. MCVs also cover the partner or dependent child of a foreign crew member travelling with them, the paper said. It reported that in the past three years Home Affairs cancelled 103 MCVs suspected of being fraudulent. A Senate Inquiry into Flag of Convenience Shipping in July 2017 found FOC posed a serious risk to national security. An Australian Border Force Submission to the inquiry said FOC registration regulation and practice offered features that organised crime syndicates or terrorist groups may seek to exploit. The Senate report stated: “The committee maintains that [FOC] vessels present serious security risks to the Australian coast, which need to be properly addressed. Its recommendations were ignored. •



CREW 400,000 seafarers trapped on ships worldwide sparks humanitarian crisis and threatens environmental and economic calamity


n what has become a global humanitarian crisis, 400,000 seafarers have become hostage to state border closures and restrictions preventing them going home. It is a pandemic impasse that unions and industry warn could also spill over into environmental catastrophe and disrupt world trade. “We now have seafarers on board ships for 12, 14, 16 months and, we’re now hearing examples, 18 months,” Dean Summers. Australia Co-ordinator International Transport Workers’ Federation told the public hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs in September. Fatigue is behind the many of the world’s biggest shipping calamities and oil spills – the Exxon Valdez, Shen Neng 1 on the Great Barrier Reef and now reports it was a factor with the MV Wakashio spill off Mauritius. Summers warned fatigue was right


through the industry and a maritime casualty could cost billions of dollars. Over-contract crew could also bring world trade to a standstill, Summers warned. “Say you stop one of those ships—and when I say ‘stop’, I mean: seafarers have the right, after the end of their contract, be that three months or nine months – to simply stop working. The ship can’t sail if it falls below minimum safe manning,” Summers said. “You don’t have to look into a crystal ball; the consequences are obvious to everybody,” he said. “If ships stop, for whatever reason, then our economy stops, very, very quickly behind them.” Australia’s multi-billion-dollar exports of iron ore out of the Pilbara or coal out of Northern Queensland could be affected, he warned. A ship with below minimum safe manning in Port Hedland or Dampier or Hay Point would simply stop – its hold full of coal or ore going nowhere.

No one can force seafarers to work beyond their contracts. It is against international law. According to the Maritime Labour Convention, seafarers have the right to be repatriated and port states have the obligation to facilitate their going home. Summers chided the big industry players like the resource sector for simply going into their shells. “It’s a very big concern for the industry, but they’re doing nothing about it,” he said. “They don’t want anybody on or off (the ships); they don’t want anybody into or out of their terminals. So, they’re just hoping it’s going to miraculously go away and international seafarers won’t complain anymore, but the opposite is true,” he said. “Even if we had a vaccine and COVID was cured tomorrow, it would still take months and months to clear away the backlog.” By that time shipping will have seafarers who had been close to two

“The ramifications for human rights are obvious, and the ramifications for our industry and our economy are huge.” – DEAN SUMMERS

years without stepping foot off a ship. “The ramifications for human rights are obvious, and the ramifications for our industry and our economy are huge,” said Summers. The ITF, the International Maritime Organisation, the International Labor Organisation and the International Chamber of Shipping are calling on nations to act to resolve the global emergency. On World Maritime Day 24 September 2020, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres renewed his appeal to governments to address the plight of stranded seafarers by formally designating them as “key workers” and ensuring safe crew changes. The IMO has established a Seafarer Crisis Action Team that includes the ITF and the ICS. It is working with governments at a diplomatic level. But when governments like the UK initiated a virtual summit for shipping nations to discuss how to resolve the issue, Australia was conspicuously absent. On 9 July 2020, 13 shipping nations signed the Joint Statement of the International Maritime Virtual Summit on Crew Changes, pledging to facilitate crew changes and achieve key status designation for seafarers. “It was immediately apparent to the world that Australia just didn’t care or wasn’t engaged in this terrible issue. So that’s a big concern for us,” said Summers. Since then another 40 nations have

signed up. But not Australia. Paddy Crumlin, who is the president of the ITF and also the national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia wrote formally to the Prime Minister. The letter calls on government to establish and fund a dedicated task force to coordinate state and federal government agencies, and work with the aviation sector to facilitate flights for seafarers’ repatriation. Crumlin called on government to adopt the IMO crew change protocol. There has been no response to Crumlin’s appeal. Crew change is still left to individual states to tackle. At a national level a vacuum remains. “Federally there’s nothing proactive,” said Summers. “Nobody has engaged our neighbours, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka—those countries that provide labour for the flag-ofconvenience ships and the industry. Nobody has engaged the international aviation market to try to organise flights for seafarers to come and go.” The WA state government continues to call for crew change to be confined to Singapore. But Pilbara Ports Authority which hosts the world’s largest iron ore export port, is attempting to establish a crew change centre, where seafarers can fly in and out of Port Hedland international terminal. Maritime Safety Queensland has already adopted the process on a smaller scale. Crew changes are coming in and out of Brisbane at the rate of

around 1,000 a month. “It’s not going to make much of a dent on the 400,000 figure,” said Summers. “But it gives industry hope, it gives seafarers hope and it gives us somewhere to channel seafarers and companies who want a crew change.” Summers said the shipping industry in Australia know what is going on and are standing shoulder to shoulder with the ITF. When international unions from around the world contact his office and ask what they can do to help their members stuck on ships on the Australian coast, Summers can only advise: “You can go to Brisbane. Maybe there’ll be something in Western Australia soon. Divert your ships as best as you can into Singapore.” While everybody knows the problem, the people who should be taking responsibility are sitting on their hands, he said. Meanwhile Australia has ships trading around the coast with fatigued officers and exhausted crews who have no way of getting off. A Kiribati seafarer contacted Summers from an Australian National Line chartered vessel trading between New Zealand and Australia after 17 months on board. “They desperately in need to come off,” he said. “The matter is dire; the circumstances are urgent, and we’ve got to do something about it before seafarers are hurt and the industry is hurt too.” •




UNISON JASPER Newcastle volunteer inspector for the International Transport Workers’ Federation bunks up with the Burmese crew forced to work Australia’s coastal alumina trade on slave wages



teve Murray, volunteer for the International Transport Workers’ Federation in Newcastle got a call that a Burmese crew in port, feared for their lives. He drove straight over. It was after nightfall when he climbed the gangway of Hong Kong flagged bulk carrier Unison Jasper at the Kooragang Island wharf that winter evening, Sunday, 29 July. On deck he was stopped by one of the ship’s Chinese officers. “Why won’t you let me on the ship,” Steve asked, pulling out his phone to record the conversation. “You’re not paying the workers correctly. I want to talk to them. I’ll wait here all night. I’ll sleep on the deck.” The crew were standing behind trying to reach out to Steve, but the officer was blocking them. “So, they stormed past and came out onto the deck,” said Steve. “I had all the crew with me. They were crouching down. They told me they’d been bullied and forced to sign their contract extensions. All had spent just under 14 months on board.”

Steve asked to talk to the captain. The ship’s crew circled him in solidarity and once again pushed past the officer. In the rec room they got the ITF Burmese interpreter in London on the line to get to the bottom of what was happening. The captain came down with the first officer and told Steve to get off the ship or he would call the police. Steve refused to budge: “I’m not leaving my comrades on board this ship because they fear for their lives,” he retorted. Hours went by. One of the Burmese seafarers pulled his mattress out of his

cabin and made up a bed in the rec room. Steve ordered in takeaway food and drinks. The crew had been eating cups of fried rice for the last two or three weeks and had to buy bottled water off the captain. Before trying to get some sleep, Steve asked the crew for a deck knife as protection in case things turned ugly. “They do murder people on some of these ships,” he said, alluding to the deaths of three seafarers on the Sage Sagittarius in 2012. “They throw people over the side if they complain.” Around 1.30am the officers came into the rec room, saw Steve had a knife and retreated. Then about 3.30am Steve got a call from police asking what he was doing on board. “I told them everything,” he said. “They said if I had any problems, I’d best give them a ring.” When morning came Steve joined the crew for a cup of rice. Once ITF inspector Dean Summers arrived from Sydney, they held a meeting with the captain. “They had nine-month contracts with dodgy Burmese manning agents, and they were forced to sign an extension,” Steve said. “In fact, the Chinese captain said, ‘If you don’t sign these extensions, I’ll sign them.’ And so, he did. They were working against their will. That’s effectively slavery.” Conditions on board were shocking. The Burmese crew were only paid 30% of their wages, with a total of US$153,000 owing in stolen wages. “They told us if they asked for water, they were made to pay $2 a bottle,” said Newcastle branch secretary Glenn Williams. “The Chinese officer was a grub. The old man was withholding their passports.” On board the ITF went through all the ship’s books. “We just keep unveiling more and more corrupt stuff,” said Steve. “The manning agents were all run by gangs and mafia, ones that had been blacklisted. The first officer on board was bullying them to work harder. They just got sick of it and wanted to go home. After 14 months that was their right.” That morning port state control inspected and detained the vessel. Steve went home for a shower and a bit of time with his family. He had only got a couple of hours sleep on board.

“I’d just got into my bed when I got a phone call from the crew saying the officers were yelling at them to move the ship up berth.” Steve went back and was boarding the vessel when the captain started raising the gangway. The crew got the controls off him. Steve stayed on board until around midday. The next morning the captain again ordered the crew to move the ship. As Steve went to climb the gangway it was raised once again. “I jumped up just in time,” he said. “I had to wrestle the gangway controls off the captain.” Steve reported to the port authorities the captain was trying to move the vessel undermanned. Tugs had put their lines on the starboard side of the vessel and the linesmen were ready to let go of the ship. “Dean and I decided to get everybody’s bags and storm off the ship,” said Steve. “It was a pretty risky move. Once they leave the vessel they are like illegal immigrants or deserters.” The crew had to keep within 13 metres of the vessel or they could be arrested for breaking Australian law. “We got some takeaway and waited it out,” said Steve. “Heaps of police, heaps of border force, heaps of other people came down to the wharf. It became a big commotion. Dean was there all day on the phone to embassies, talking to Border Force, police and Immigration getting it sorted.” Steve filmed police reading the crew the conditions for their quarantine in Sydney: “Thank you very much gentlemen. We wish you a safe trip home,” the copper said politely as they were ushered four by four into waiting buses. As they drove off a group of construction workers waved flags and cheered by the side of the road. “It was a very emotional time that part,” said Steve. “It was three days and nights with pretty much no sleep, but we finally got our win.” After 14 days in a Sydney quarantine hotel, all 11 crew flew back to Burma. “I still talk to them now,” said Steve. “Three of them still message me every single week and ask how I’m going.” Some of the crew went back to sea. Others, too traumatised, have gone back to farming. •



he story of the Unison Jasper is not just a story of crew exploitation during a global pandemic, it is also a story of unconscionable government policy. The bulk carrier was on a temporary licence from Canberra to trade on the Australian coast. It had replaced an Australian ship and an Australian crew, by providing a cheaper option for Tomago Aluminium. Four years back, in February 2016, 16 Australian seafarers on board the CSL Melbourne in Newcastle, heard their ship and their jobs were being axed. They protested with a sit-in. The company called police to board the vessel and drag the Australian crew off. Now the police were back, and this time the ship’s crew wanted off. Only the Chinese officers remained. The Hong Kong-flagged, Danishoperated bulk carrier broke every rule in the book. Australian port and state control detained the vessel for breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention then banned it from Australian ports for six months. “We cannot tolerate floating prisons in our waters,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. “It shows the Federal Government’s fundamentally flawed regulation of coastal shipping is leading to the extreme mistreatment of vulnerable workers and violation of their human rights.” The Unison Jasper was bringing alumina from Gladstone to the Tomago smelter. The ITF had already alerted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) the crew needed help and it had been detained in Brisbane on the way down. Before it reached Newcastle the ship’s officers had attempted to bully the crew into handing back their wages. “Quite frankly, the Australian Government allowed things to get this bad on the Unison Jasper. They were clearly unconcerned with the seafarers’ conditions on board when they freely issued a temporary licence to this ship one month earlier,” said Summers. At the time the crew had already worked beyond the legal limit. The ITF had lodged complaints to AMSA for serious breaches of seafarers’ rights. “The kicker is that this is under a temporary licence issued by the Australian government to run these trades,” Summers said. •




The Ruby Princess crew were given little protection against COVID-19 and no say in the Australian inquiry into the contaminated liner.




t was the height of the global pandemic and Martin White, NSW Port Authority duty pilot in Sydney did not mince words. “The Skip on that Ruby Princess, he is a bit of a shonk. I think he made a false declaration last time,” he told Duty Manager for Vessel Traffic Steve Howieson on the evening of 18 March. Ten days earlier, on 8 March, Ruby Princess Commodore Giorgio Pomata answered ‘no’ when asked if any crew on board were ill or if there were any suspected COVID-19 cases. “Pure lie,” Sarah Marshall,General Manager, Operations Sydney at Port Authority of NSW emailed a colleague. The ship’s doctor had already reported to NSW Health that 170 people on board were ill, including crew. Pomata later apologised saying he misunderstood the question. He meant there were no “confirmed COVID cases”. This is according to statements, phone transcripts and testimonies to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess. The inquiry accepted the Italian captain was not lying but had a language problem. The unions submitted otherwise. They highlighted an inherent conflict of interest between the ship’s desire to obtain pilotage by downplaying the risk on board and its duty to provide reliable information. Maritime Union National President Paddy Crumlin had written to the Prime Minister in January and again in March, two days before the Ruby Princess docked. Sydney Branch assistant secretary Paul Garrett had warned the NSW Port Authority that ship crews could not be relied upon to diagnose Covid-19 cases or accurately self-report illnesses. Australia was still woefully dependent on self-declaration of crew health. It could lead to a viral outbreak in the community, Crumlin rightly predicted.


On board the Ruby Princess on the evening of 18 March, hundreds of passengers and crew were dancing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ at a farewell party. Stewards were serving tables without wearing masks or gloves. The ship’s sick bay was overflowing. Once again, the Bermuda flag of convenience vessel declared ‘NO’ to any crew members showing symptoms of COVID-19. This is despite steward Ben Marbiog being swabbed for the virus. Later that night the ship’s doctor Ilse von Watzdorf also assured the pilot and harbour master two passengers requiring ambulances were not COVID-related. Yet when Dr Watzdorf booked the ambulances hours earlier, she had warned Carnival onshore management the patients could be infectious. They had tested negative for influenza and had been swabbed for COVID-19. Ambulance officers should wear PPE, she said. The NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess found the doctor was not at fault. She had provided NSW Health a log of 128 ill people on board as required. Both ambulance patients tested positive. One died. More than 200 crew and 600 passengers contracted the virus. Ultimately 900 Covid-19 cases and 28 deaths were linked to the ship at last count. Commissioner Bret Walker found NSW Health was responsible. A panel of expert doctors had judged the ship low risk. They had allowed it to disgorge 2,700 passengers into the community, without awaiting the test results of swabs taken on board for the virus. Responsibility for the health and safety of the more than 200 crew who tested positive, however, was left to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its affiliate unions in Australia – the Maritime Union of Australia, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers and the Australian Maritime Officers’ Union. The ship’s viral outbreak was, according to the union submission, a systemic failure by government and companies to manage the risk of infection among crew and failure to consult with unions or crew. Seafarers made up one in three people on board the Ruby Princess, but their legal rights were not considered. Both the NSW government and the company showed scant regard for the


health and safety of ship’s crew and onshore workers. This was in breach of a batch of Australian and foreign conventions, laws and agreements that give “every seafarer the right to a safe and secure workplace, health protection and medical care.” The Ruby Princess is owned by Princess Cruise Lines Ltd (Princess Cruises). From October 2019 until May 2020, the ship was under a time charter to Carnival. Late on the evening of March 18, the 113,000-tonne liner sat at Bradleys Head, awaiting pilotage. Carnival management had noted a ‘significant spike’ of people reporting flu-like symptoms. “Numbers (had) gone berserk”. Some had tested negative to influenza A and B – yet another red light that the virus was on board. The Ruby Princess was one of four ships rushing back that night to beat the government port closures. Harbour master Cameron Butchart received a call from Peter Dilonardo, NSW Ambulance senior supervisor, around 10pm. Two patients on the Ruby Princess had respiratory issues “one of the signs of corona.” Butchart thought the call might be a hoax. “I can’t get anybody at f... Carnival on the telephone,” he said. Butchart’ s superior could. A Carnival manager, assured him that,

no, the ambulance patients were not coronavirus related and, yes, NSW Health had cleared the ship. It was the middle of the night and a flurry of calls followed. The Ruby Princess staff captain rang pilot Martin White from the bridge. “They were desperate to get in,” said White. White asked three questions – were there any sick passengers or crew on board, what were their symptoms, and could the ship send him a copy of its acute respiratory diseases log. He also spoke with ship’s doctor Watzdorf on board just after midnight. “We sent the full report through to NSW Public Health and they’ve cleared us for disembarkation with a general precaution,” she said. Butchart rebooked pilotage. Pilot Sam Chell boarded the Ruby Princess at 1.08am. On the bridge the staff captain, captain navigator, deck officer, helmsman, lookout (able seamen) and a security guard were waiting for him. Chell recalls the lookout offering coffee, which he declined. Meanwhile, word had reached Australian Border Force (ABF) that ambulances were required for “two query coronavirus patients” from the Ruby Princess. An official woke Butchart at 2.15am to “alert me that the ship may need to go back to sea.”



Checking his MarineTraffic app Butchart noted the Ruby Princess was passing Taronga Zoo. He told ABF the ship could still be held back. Someone higher up at ABF overruled the concerned officer. “Bring it in,” she said. Chell walked down the gangway around 2.30am. As passengers were herded past crew and down the gangway, the next morning, they also exposed onshore workers, including the linesmen and baggage handlers. Only after the ship left port did Filipino steward Ben Marbiog’s test results return positive. But Marbiog was left on the ship with 1057 crew mates. Within a month 210 crew had tested positive. While Commissioner Walker said crew welfare was outside his terms of reference he acknowledged it mattered. “The substantial claims by the unions for (an) expanded inquiry must be acknowledged,’ he said. “None of the comments (above) should be read as downplaying the gravity of the issues concerning the welfare of the crew. It was, and remains, very great.” The inquiry heard that throughout the voyage, crew shared cabins, some four to a room. They mixed freely with other crew and passengers. Many crew from India, Indonesia and the Philippines did not know they could get free tests. There were no

face to face meetings between staff and supervisors. All crew members should have been tested for COVID-19 as soon as it was known that Marbiog had tested positive, the unions submitted. He should have been brought ashore. The Ruby Princess was ordered to leave Australian waters, but the ITF persuaded politicians to demand crew tests and repatriations before it sailed. “Lives are at risk,” Summers said. “It would be a death sentence for some crew. They’d start stacking up the bodies in the freezer. You can’t get medical evacuations that far at sea.” A thousand seafarers remained trapped on the vessel a month, off Port Kembla. Emails said to be from a crew member of the Ruby Princess were posted on a cruise blog run by a Miami based lawyer, Jim Walker at the end of March, the Guardian reported. “The crew is sick and getting sicker,” read the email. “No idea how many actually have Covid but many have symptoms including lack of taste a nd smell.” Seafarers were denied the right to onshore medical treatment and denied their right to legal representation during police interviews. They were not allowed an ITF lawyer to represent them, only a company lawyer. The ITF along with MUA Port Kembla and the South Coast Labor

Council demanded the full testing of the crew while the ship was alongside. They got media. They got politicians on side. They won repatriation for 600 before the Ruby Princess set sail on 23 April. “Then the ship sat in Manila Bay where she waited at anchor for another four weeks,” said Summers, bitterly. While the ship was in Australian waters neither SafeWork NSW nor the Australian Maritime Safety Authority took steps to ensure the Ruby Princess was a safe workplace nor to ensure that crew had adequate medical care. Australia set up its National Protocol for Managing Novel Coronavirus Disease Risk from Cruise Ships without consulting unions. Likewise, the Australian Cruise Ship Surveillance Program worked with the company, shipping agents and government, not the unions representing the crew. In total 210 of 1148 (18%) of the crew contracted COVID-19. “There could be no more damning evidence of failure to protect the health and safety of seafarers on the Ruby Princess,” the union submitted. “The Port Authority of NSW, NSW Health, SafeWork NSW, AMSA, the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority and Princess Cruise Lines Ltd have all failed their duty of care.” Union calls for an expanded inquiry remain unanswered. •



SHONKY LAWS A RISK TO LIFE AND LIMB Union takes on law allowing shipping on the coast to opt out of international standards in crew qualifications and ship safety


aws for domestic vessels now allow backpackers and unqualified workers to crew vessels on the coast, even out to sea and across some of the nation’s most dangerous oceans. Not only are crew qualifications and safety compromised, but companies can write their own rules on how flammable cargo can be stowed alongside fuel and passengers without oversight. This is according to union submissions and testimonies to the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee and the Productivity Commission. “It’s been a disgraceful abrogation of oversight,” MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin told the Senate committee. “Not only has the (General Purpose Hand/deckhand qualification) been watered down somewhat itself; it is now applying to an area of safety, training and certification of watchkeepers, which can only end up in injury, loss of life and maybe even loss of vessels.” Crumlin said the law opened “a grossly inferior certificate that was a starting point in ‘tinny to tanker’ (model).” Union participation in the Senate Inquiry into the Performance of AMSA has resulted in a bipartisan recommendation that the government commission an independent review of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act. The union also made submissions and gave evidence on these problems to the Productivity Commission and to the Senate shipping inquiry.


The Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act, dates back to 2012 and was designed to replace separate state and territory regulations. It also does away with the requirement for vessels to comply with the Navigation Act if they sail between states or territories. Only vessels under the Navigation Act are required to have IRs on board, have a minimum safe manning document, and comply with international maritime conventions. As of July 2018, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority took over national administration for all commercial vessels. Domestic Commercial Vessel operators write their own safety management systems and determine the level and qualifications of crew – including ‘uncertificated’ crew. The union has been scathing of how AMSA has taken on this job. “AMSA, you’re a joke at the IMO (International Maritime Organisation),” Paddy Crumlin told the Senate committee hearings. “We’ve had long generations of regulation where we were proud to lead the world. You’re a joke at the IMO because you’ve watered down the certification of Australian seafarers, exactly the same as you’ve failed in your port state control overview of the Maritime Labour Convention. You should hang your heads in shame!” The union has argued in its submissions to both the Productivity Commission National Transport Regulatory Reform hearings and the Senate that many vessels would be better regulated under the Navigation Act. That

Act and its Marine Orders have a long history of delivering the high standards Australian shipping is known for. The MUA advocates that large and complex vessels be returned to the jurisdiction of the Navigation Act, an area that AMSA is effective and practised in regulating. At the Productivity Commission hearings in Brisbane in January 2020, MUA national officer Garry Keane argued how important properly trained seafarers were for both safety and for providing a national skilled base. “The only vessels that really need to be covered by the Navigation Act (now) are foreign going vessels,” he added. Keane said that under current rules, a harbour deckhand with a few days training could be working up to 200 miles out to sea - something that once required 12-15 months of training under the Navigation Act. “Now it could it could be a backpacker who’s come out for a bit of work,” he scoffed. “You throw in two days training, jump onto a small vessel intended to work around the harbour or river and all of a sudden you’re 200 miles out at sea. That’s madness,” he said. AMSA now regulates vessels covering the entire spectrum of floating transport from kayaks for hire to intrastate trading vessels, from water taxis to the Manly ferries, and every type of vessel and operation in-between. The worse-case scenario is shipping across the Bass Strait, where vessels can now also opt out of the Navigation Act. “More ships have been lost in the

“You throw in two days training, jump onto a small vessel intended to work around the harbour or river and all of a sudden you’re 200 miles out at sea. That’s madness.” – Garry Keane

Bass Strait than you’ve backed losers,” Crumlin told the Senate committee. “It is one of the most dangerous waterways in the world.” MUA Sydney branch Assistant Secretary Paul Garrett worked on charter vessels, ‘four-hour booze cruises’, tugboats and ferries in Sydney Harbour, before sailing internationally and interstate doing voyages for tugboats. “When you started you needed to have what was known as the presea qualification,” he told the Senate inquiry. “You had to do your four weeks at TAFE, you had to get your firefighting training. You had to get your tickets.” Garrett said working onboard a ferry you could have up to 1,100 passengers onboard. In the towing industry, you are towing 100,000 tonne ships, or on bunker barges, moving 1,500 tonnes of fuel. “There’s quite a risk, if you’re unskilled,” he said. “Having the benefit of proper training and tuition was important when you stepped aboard the vessel.” Jason Campbell had 19 years at sea in blue water shipping, towage and offshore oil and gas, before he became Tasmania branch secretary. He gained his Integrated Rating qualification by completing a certificate in marine operations. He then qualified as a second mate, by completing a diploma in Applied Science. Campbell now has responsibility for crew on around 20 ships that trade to and from Tasmania. Nine are regulated Australian vessels, three or four are foreign flagged with Australian crew and

the remainder are domestic commercial vessels. “Since I left the sea and took up the role, I have seen a decline in the safety and training requirement for Australian seafarers,” he said. Campbell gave an example of a local butcher, with no seafaring qualifications and no experience, who joined the crew of the John Duigan, trading between Tasmania, King Island and Victoria. “These days the crew could be a mix of people off the street with no qualifications and trained seafarers,” he said. “It’s left to the owners to determine the risk.” If crew requirements and operational requirements are not set by international standards it is a disaster waiting to happen, he added Most vessels on the Bass Strait still remain under the Navigation Act now because the shipowners determined so. “Toll are run by seafarers,” said Crumlin. “They accept the STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) and they don’t try to cut corners. That’s the international standard for international seafarers. But it’s not imposed on them. Others can, and have, opted out.” “(Shipowners) are opting out at a rate of knots,” said Garry Keane. On the issue of dangerous goods, Keane told the Productivity Commission, the dangers of going away from international regulation bodes catastrophe. Cargoes such as bulk grain and ore pose risks that can lead to cargo shift

and a catastrophic loss of stability. The Maritime National Safety Law require minimal training or rules. Vessels that are regulated by the Navigation Act, do. The Productivity Commission final report released on 1 October failed to recommend that interstate vessels remain under the Navigation Act. But it does recommend that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau expand its jurisdiction to cover domestic and intrastate vessels. The union hopes this will bring better safety investigations and outcomes. Due to union lobbying, Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray reports AMSA has lifted its game in other areas of maritime safety over the past year. “AMSA has (also) been much more active in consulting with the MUA on new Marine Orders lately,” Bray reported. As well, AMSA has established a new Shipping Consultative Forum with Ian Bray representing the union, and a National Safety Committee for Domestic Commercial Vessels with Paul Garrett from the Sydney Branch participating. AMSA inspectors are now required to speak to health and safety representatives on Australian ships when doing inspections. Minimum safety requirements for offshore facilities in Marine Order 47 were significantly improved after pressure from the MUA. AMSA has started to issue annual safety reports covering domestic fatalities and safety incidents. The campaign to improve the safety of domestic vessels under the National Law and bring interstate shipping back under the Navigation Act is ongoing. •



DEATHS AT SEA Three deaths - NT deputy coroner’s testimony to senate inquiry exposes flaws in national domestic marine safety law

RYAN DONOGHUE, a young fellow

from England died on the back of a prawn trawler in 2013. It was the 20-year-old’s first time out to sea. He was electrocuted while trying to cut the shackles that connect the net to the otter boards. A wave hit him while he was working. His heart went into ventricular fibrillation. This was one of three harrowing stories of deaths at sea told by Northern Territory Deputy Coroner Kelvin Currie to the Senate inquiry into domestic shipping law. Despite previous recommendations, electric tools using 240 voltage were still used on the vessel. Donoghue had no supervision and no personal protective equipment (PPE), the investigation found. He was working in shorts, singlet and bare feet. The safety management system was deficient. Donoghue had no induction training for power tools, no provision for wearing safety gear.

DANIEL BRADSHAW was 38 years

of age. He had all his tickets and could captain vessels when he got the job of working on a barge servicing Top End communities in 2017. But there was no gangway for the barge on the Darwin wharves. If the tide was up, crew could step off the fence on the barge onto the top of the dock using a ladder to steady themselves. Otherwise they jumped onto a tire, then climbed up the

chains to the top of the dock. Bradshaw made the jump to the tyre but fell back and hit his head on the bridge before dropping into six inches of water and drowning. Why were there no gangways? The evidence before the coroner was that they were getting to it but there were other more important safety matters.

HARRY EVANS, 23, was also from

England. He got work as a deckhand on prawn trawlers in 2018. While helping to lower the nets he was bitten by a sea snake. Generally, sea snakes bite dry, without venom in their fangs. But with Evans, the neurotoxin from the venom paralysed his eyelids, then his eyeballs. His cheeks started to droop and then the muscles that worked his lungs and his rib cage and his diaphragm stopped working. He couldn’t breathe by himself. He was a long way out in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Evans was believed to be the first person killed by a sea snake bite since 1935. He died two hours after he was bitten at about 10:30am. Medical help got there at 2:30pm. It is up to WorkSafe to regulate safety on state vessels. But it can only really do so while they are in port. At sea WorkSafe has no resources to go and check whether deckhands are working in bare feet, treading on snakes or not. “Being the coronial jurisdiction, we obviously believe that where there’s a death there should be some response from a regulator,” the coroner said. “There should be persistence in fixing the systems that were identified to be not up to scratch before they closed their file.” The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has no jurisdiction to investigate deaths at sea on domestic vessels. The Productivity Commission agrees with the union submission that it should. •

“He was working in shorts, singlet and bare feet – no induction training for power tools, no provision for wearing safety gear.” 32

MARITIME DAY The Anchors, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, 29 September: Maritime workers and friends pay tribute to those who lost their lives at sea. World Maritime Day this year also recognised the invaluable efforts of millions of seafarers, dockers, ferry and port workers who are keeping the global supply chains operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, while highlighting the plight of hundreds of thousands seafarers who have been unable to return home to their families due to the crisis. Organised by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, the event shines a spotlight on the vital role of maritime workers in Australia’s security and economic success. FROM TOP: Dean Summers, ITF Australia Co-ordination, Bill Giddins, MUA Veterans, Sister Mary Leahy, chaplain to seafarers in Sydney and Paul Garrett, MUA Sydney Branch Assistant Secretary





Negotiations at Australia’s container terminals have been protracted and bitter as employers align their strategies aiming to use state power to remove wharfies’ rights to respond to employer attacks.


fter months of court battles and industrial action with global terminal operator DP World, the MUA has reached an in-principle agreement for the national agreement (Part A). Terms for the individual terminals (part B) are still under negotiation in each port. The in-principle agreement comes after long, intense negotiations, stoppages across all ports and international rallies in solidarity with the union. They culminated in the company filing for economic damages and an injunction in the Federal Court opposing the union’s position on automation and outsourcing. All up the negotiations have been run more like a dispute. The process has surpassed two years – a record. However, settlement now looks within reach.


PATRICK STEVEDORES Talks with Australian stevedores Patrick only got started in February, but quickly turned ugly. “It was clear from the outset when Patrick tabled their ‘shit-agreement’ that sought to tear up 50 pages of hard-won worker conditions, that negotiations would be protracted,” said Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey. When the pandemic took hold the company attempted to roll-over their agreement, stripping away workers’ rights and entrenching wage outcomes below industry standard. Harking back to the 1998 waterfront dispute, the company also ran a misinformation campaign in the media, accusing wharfies of holding the nation to ransom. The company argued in court that the union’s protected industrial action was causing economic harm and must be terminated. Despite the union offering multiple peace deals during conciliation talks, little progress has been made to date. “Patrick management continue to use the cover of COVID and the community anxiety that comes with it to attack the conditions of their workforce, gouge profit, and misrepresent their true intentions,” said National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.

“Patrick management continue to use the cover of COVID and the community anxiety that comes with it to attack the conditions of their workforce, gouge profit, and misrepresent their true intentions” - Paddy Crumlin

Above (from left): Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray, Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey Left: Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith alongside Hutchison Jakarta International Container Terminal Union leader Surya at National Conference


Hutchison Ports (HPA) have stalled and attacked fundamental conditions of wharfies over a two-year period. Attacks on conditions such as redundancy and superannuation ensured that the negotiations would be long and bitter. It took over a year for HPA to withdraw their attack on basic conditions that exposed the company’s real agenda – automation of the terminal. In August the company threatened to put a non-union agreement to the workforce for vote. As a response an overwhelming majority of wharfies approved further industrial action which prompted HPA to step away from the non-union document. “The message was heard loud and clear,” said Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith. “The new protected industrial action was creative, significantly more targeted and more effective. It included bans on subcontracted vessels as well as crane and straddle go-slows.” On automation, significant progress has been made with a guarantee of no loss of jobs resulting out of a high-level meeting involving National Secretary

Paddy Crumlin, Warren Smith, Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAleer and Queensland Assistant Secretary Paul Petersen. Wages and shift leader positions remain the last issues to be dealt with and the MUA is working to ensure this agreement is finalised.


Melbourne port’s third operator Victoria International Container Terminal is the only stevedoring company in Australia without an MUA agreement. VICT is wholly owned by the Philippines based global terminal operator International Container Terminal Services. It has been aggressively anti-union, Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey reports. VICT opened at Melbourne’s Webb Dock as a greenfields site with no MUA presence. The union now has majority coverage. The company has outsourced much of its operations to Manila using automation and the Navis terminal operating system while slashing Australian wages by 40%. In March, the company attempted to put another non-union agreement to the workforce. The union campaigned



heavily for a No vote despite MUA organisers being excluded from the site. The workforce overwhelmingly (70%) voted to reject the agreement, with 100% of MUA members voting No. When management refused to meet with the unions (MUA, ETU and AMOU) the matter went to the Fair Work Commission and the unions won. Negotiations got underway, but the company quickly aborted talks and tried to revive their non-union agreement, with minor amendments. It went to another vote and the workers again voted it down. “We understand it was a 92% No vote,” said Tracey. “That’s a great display of solidarity from every worker at VICT. It sends a strong message to management.” One outcome of the vote is that HR manager Mick O’Leary, a former MUA official who went to work for the bosses some 15 years back, has been removed from the site. The new management team has been bargaining in good faith involving site delegates for the first time. “It’s a whole new ball game,” said national organiser Aarin Moon. “They actually listen to us. Some of the work outsourced to Manila seems to be coming back.” VICT however remains a threat to the stevedoring industry due to the high level of automation and the company’s long history of aggressive union busting. Court action is ongoing. Many of the operations, including the security gates and yard cranes can be, and are operated remotely from Manila. “The VICT model becomes the ultimate goal of automation,” said Tracey. “The aim is to have your automated terminals operated within the lowest cost labour jurisdictions wherever that may be globally.” The threat of automation is why the union has mobilised a community campaign against the McGowan State Labor Government’s plan to close the Port of Fremantle and open a new terminal at Kwinana in Perth’s industrial south. See p38. In August the state government announced a $97.2M investment towards plans for a new $4.7B container terminal.


AUSPORT MARINE MUA Port Botany ship mooring and lines workers employed at Ausport Marine Services, Port Botany, signed off on a new enterprise agreement in October delivering a 20% wage rise over five years. The EBA almost doubled the permanent workforce and provided unlimited paid leave for domestic violence victims. Sydney Branch Deputy Secretary Paul Keating said Ausport was the first mooring and lines company in the country to employ women and that was down to a militant and progressive rank and file policy. The win comes on the back of a bitter dispute with a phoenix

company that sacked its union workforce, then six month started up under a new name employing non union labour, undermining pay and conditions at the port. (See p40)


Talks have been underway since December 2019, with the national agreement (Part A) settled in June. One good outcome has been the company moving away from labour hire as a means to thwart promotional opportunities for the existing workforce. Instead the EBA now provides solid job security for Qube workers and locks in a 2.5% wage rise annually, over the four years of the agreement. •

TOLL STEVEDORING The union has scored some big wins among the smaller players on the waterfront. Top of the list is Toll Stevedoring. Members voted overwhelmingly (98%) for protected action in January, including overtime bans. Key outcomes are a 3.5% annual pay rise, new family-friendly rosters, 11 new permanent positions and a $3,000 sign-on bonus.


Industry players and government have been telling the same old lies in an attempt to avoid negotiations and deny workers the right to strike


hen employers and ministers announced wharfies were blocking medical supplies and putting lives at risk, it made headlines. “End port extortion now, Scott Morrison tells wharfies” (the Australian), “Drastic Action to Import Medicine During Wharfies go-Slow” the Daily Tele screamed. The union response was prompt. “We said, tell us which boxes have medical equipment and we’ll unload them,” said MUA Deputy national secretary Will Tracey. “They couldn’t come back to us with one box.” That was Patrick. Weeks earlier DP World, also attempting to outlaw protected action during enterprise negotiations, commissioned a paper by economist Houston Kemp. Kemp estimated delays were costing $45,000 a day with a total cost of $7.1M to the Australian economy. They put a price tag on the alleged value within each container across the Australian economy. But most containers are imports. What if the container had a leather couch from Italy? The only part of this economic exchange that stays in Australia is in retail. The labour and production costs are all returned to Italy. There was no economic damage just damage to the obviously linked corporate politicians like Morrison who parroted their lies.” Ships were queueing off the coast, the employers and shipping moguls claimed. This was partly true. Patrick’s own map tracking container vessels showed 40 ships en route. But they were as far away as Manila, the Indian Ocean and the other side of the Tasman. Only one or two waited off Port Botany. Even peak shipper groups like the Freight Trade Alliance began to question the spin once the stoppage was over and nothing changed, turning the spotlight on stevedore and shipping bosses. Shipping lines were potentially “doubledipping” by gaining penalty revenue from both the stevedores and the exporter/ importers, FTA secretariat director Paul Zalai noted in Logistics News. National Secretary Paddy Crumlin set the

record straight: “It is shocking to see big business attempt to use community fears to try and achieve industrial and corporate outcomes,” he wrote. “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-ofconvenience shipping. “We will not be lectured to 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.” •

Both Patrick and DP World used the same dodgy economic report to attack wharfies.

“We said, tell us which boxes have medical equipment and we’ll unload them. They couldn’t come back to us with one box.” – Will Tracey


Fremantle Port under the Axe Plans to shut down the Port of Fremantle are flawed, fanciful and inept, the union argues. The jobs of 6,000 workers in and around the port are at risk.


overnment plans to prematurely shut down the Port of Fremantle, Australia’s best, and move shop to Kwinana, within 12 years, are ill timed and inept, Christy Cain, President Maritime Union of Australia and West Coast Branch Secretary argues. He is not alone. Port bosses, experts, even Treasury back the union argument. Fremantle hosts Australia’s top performing container terminals, with box rates outperforming automated terminals on the east coast and even the world’s best terminals in Rotterdam and Antwerp. According to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics publication Waterline, Fremantle notches up crane rates of 36 boxes/hour compared to 30 in Melbourne and 28 in Antwerp and Rotterdam. It also boasts the best truck turnaround times, best container turnaround times and the lowest charges. Fremantle Ports took out the prestigious Golden Gecko Award for Environmental Excellence in 2018. The WA Government announced in August it would accept the Westport Taskforce proposal to shut the port and transition freight from Fremantle to Kwinana in Perth’s southern industrial belt by 2032 or 2035 at the latest. Those arguing that the port will not hit capacity for the foreseeable future include senior stevedoring executives and consultants and the International Harbour Masters’ Association. Their view is shared by Professor Fred Affleck, former chair, Freight and Logistics Council of WA; chair of the


Advisory Board of WA’s Planning and Transport Research Centre, University of WA; and advisor to the Department of Transport. Professor Affleck gave a conservative estimate that while a new port may be needed by the mid2030s, Fremantle should be allowed to expand to its natural limits. The WA Department of Treasury predicted another 25 years of growth potential, not 12, for Fremantle in its report released earlier this year. Artificial capping of capacity would blow out capital investment and create an unnecessary financial burden on government, industry and the community, Treasury warned. There is substantial unused capacity at the wharves to accommodate increased trade, the union argues. The port should stay in operation until 2050. Christy Cain wrote to the Premier protesting the government’s decision to commit $97.2M to the plan on 6 October. “The Westport Stage 2 Report, in fact the whole Westport Task Force process, is seriously flawed and cannot be relied upon as a foundation for such an important decision impacting on the future of the WA economy, the future of the WA freight

and logistics sector and the future of WA jobs,” Cain wrote. “The Westport Task Force process is flawed because it was not given the task of making an objective assessment of options in the best interests of the people of WA, particularly the working people of WA,” he added. “It has been a process to justify a political outcome that favours the wealthy and powerful, particularly property developers.” The report methodology is flawed, and its modelling and forecasting are inept and fanciful, Cain wrote, stressing COVID-19 pandemic impacts were forcing a rethink of sovereign risk in supply chains. Cain also cautioned against the government introducing a new terminal operator and automation at any proposed new site. As was the case at the Port of Melbourne, this would lead to offshore outsourcing and a third world business model based on labour exploitation. He said the decision to advance planning for a new container port “must be reversed, especially now that governments, business and unions are collaborating to develop alternative post-Covid-19 recovery plans…which are designed to create employment,

“It has been a process to justify a political outcome that favours the wealthy and powerful, particularly property developers.” – CHRISTY CAIN

Port Botany boxer packs some punch

not destroy jobs, and boost the economy.” The branch has also briefed local parliamentarians, providing evidence from Treasury, Deloitte Economics and experts that Fremantle has the capacity to operate for another 25 years or more and can cater for the largest ships that visit any port in Australia. The branch also provided evidence that truck movements have been falling and could be further reduced by transitioning more containers to rail. Currently a public asset, the Port of Fremantle put around $100M into public coffers, according to the port’s 2018 annual report. It provides jobs for around 6,000 all up. On the wharves alone 2,000 jobs face the axe. Building an outer harbour in Kwinana would do significant, and irreparable, environmental damage to the marine environment, the branch told MPs.


The union is strongly urging the government to reconsider the Westport proposal. In consultation with industry players and experts, the MUA has developed a package of alternative proposals. These include greater regulation and ‘accreditation’ of trucks coming into the port; longer, 21-year leases to provide investment certainty for stevedoring companies and job security for workers; remove automation requirements under their leases; support staged development of Victoria Quay and commit to allowing a profitable community asset to reach its natural capacity. The union advocated reviewing a move to Westport, Kwinana, in 2035, but also including the option of expanding the port of Bunbury. •


ort Botany wharfie and boxer Che Kenneally is turning pro. “I wanna be a world champ before I retire at 31,” she said. “I don’t want to get hit in the face for nothing.” Che is 25 years old. She has been boxing 10 years. The New Zealand born middleweight was selected to go to the World Championships in 2018 and made the Olympics trial team. In India, Che lost her fight to Commonwealth Games gold medalist Lauren Price before doing a six weeks stint in Europe where she defeated the European Games Gold medalist in Spain. Che’s dad Drew is a seafarer and former boxer who trained her as a teenager and took her to union rallies as a kid. Her brother is also a seafarer. “That’s what my dad did and that’s what his dad did and his dad before him and that’s what I want to do,” she said. “I want to be like my dad.” Che joined DP World three years back. “I love it. It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” she said. “I like hands on work.” The waterfront is a good fit with a tough training regime. When not in the ring or driving rubber tyre gantry cranes on the wharves, Che is out fighting for workers’ rights and backing her union. She was a delegate at the union’s national conference in March. “Everyone at work raised money for my trip,” Che said. “The union raised money and sponsored me from the age of 16. I wouldn’t have been able to box without the support of my union.” For now, Che’s ambitions are on hold. She had three fights lined up before the end of the year, but when the pandemic struck, and borders closed everything went on hold. “It’s been nearly a year since I had a fight,” she said. “I just need to get back in there” •



INDUSTRIAL ROUNDS INDUSTRIAL MANSLAUGHTER LAW FOR WA Bosses who kill workers by cutting corners on safety could go to prison under new occupational health and safety legislation soon to be introduced in Western Australia. The Work Health and Safety Bill passed the upper house in October and was expected to be approved by the lower house in November. The bill includes penalties of between five and 20 years imprisonment for individual employers and a maximum $10 million fine for companies who knowingly engage in conduct resulting in an employee’s death on site. Unions rallied outside Parliament House urging MPs to pass the legislation, days after a construction apprentice, Jonnie Hartshorn, 23, fell to his death on a building site. •

SEA SWIFT AGREES TO TALKS Cairns-based shipping provider Sea Swift has agreed to talks with the MUA after the union campaigned for a new agreement and to stop the company cutting jobs and outsourcing maintenance work to Indonesia. MUA Queensland Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Gallagher said Sea Swift had spent five years refusing to finalise a new agreement in order to pay workers below the seagoing award. “We called it a zombie agreement,” said Gallagher. “They old EBA was dead and didn’t even meet the boot test. It had to be covered by a seagoing award, but they tried to get it under the award for tugs and smalls vessels.” Government owned Queensland Investment Company took over Sea Swift in 2019 so after the union rallied outside QIC offices, Sea Swift management had a change of heart and agreed to talks with the MUA for a new agreement and right of entry. “For five years they wouldn’t even let us on board a vessel,” said Gallagher. All maintenance is now being done in Australia. •

LINESMEN A non-union company that used police-protected scab labour to moor fuel tankers for Caltex at Port Botany “suspended” work in late September. Out of the blue in March this year, Ausport competitor National Maritime Services, Port Botany closed its doors, sacking its entire unionised workforce. The owners blamed COVID-19 and market conditions for the decision. Six months later, the owners relaunched the company under a new name, Port and Harbour Services. They commenced work in Kurnell and Port Botany with scab labour and a non union agreement. “It was a phoenix company using the pandemic as an excuse to dump its workers and union conditions,” said Paul Keating, Deputy Sydney Branch Secretary.


To defeat the move the MUA ran community protests and pickets on land and at sea. At stake was around 40% of the workforce losing their jobs. It would have flowed on to other ports, putting lots of other lines jobs at risk. On 29 September after a concerted union campaign, the company capitulated. “We saved the whole unionised industry,” said Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAleer. “They were going to destroy an entire sector of our industry. The size of the dispute and importance of the victory, can’t be underestimated. It was one of the biggest disputes in Australia this year.” Keating said the consequences if the union lost could have been catastrophic. He paid tribute to branch organiser

Shane Reside and delegates Jamie Armstrong, Marty Mirabito, Ryan Armstrong and John Elliot. “They were phenomenal,” he said. The dispute was fought out with the support of the the CFMEU (construction) the Firefighters, Rail Transport and Bus Union, and the United Workers’ Union. “The massive video messages which came from our rank and file from the vessels and workplaces all over the country, starting with Christy Cain and the WA rank and file, then international support from the ITF, the International Dockerworkers Council and Jakarta dock workers, all kept us going,” Keating said. Once the scab company undercutting the company was out of the way, the union was able to negotiate a successful EBA with Ausport Marine Services, Port Botany. (See p34) •


The NSW government’s proposal to replace the four Manly Freshwater ferries with Emerald-class catamarans would see passenger capacity slashed from 1,100 down to 400 per trip, with the new ferries unable to operate to the same swell limit while crossing the Heads, the MUA warned. Sydney Branch Assistant Secretary Paul Garrett said the decision was a costly mistake that would hurt tourist numbers

when the Sydney tourism market was trying to recover from the COVID crisis. He described the doubled-ended Manly ferries as “an internationally recognised Australian institution.” Taking them out of service “would be like pulling the Staten Island ferries out of New York, the Star ferries out of Hong Kong, or the cable cars out of San Francisco”, he added. •



The Fair Work Commission approved a ballot of tug crews employed by Svitzer Australia at ports around Australia to determine whether they will undertake legally protected industrial action for a new enterprise agreement. MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said the decision to hold a ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission was made after months of stalled negotiations. He said Svitzer had tried to impose wage freezes for the next two years instead of entering into meaningful negotiations for a new agreement. “Workers are frustrated that the Svitzer is not only refusing to bargain in good faith, but at the same time has been pressing ahead with aggressive attacks on port operating procedures in several ports,” he said. •

Asbestos was found in gaskets on new, foreign-built ferries destined for Sydney Harbour in August. The ferries were constructed in China, Singapore and Indonesia and asbestos was found during an inspection in Newcastle. The MUA advised members not to board the ferries until further notice. Sydney Assistant Secretary Paul Garrett said the MUA had been warning the NSW government and Transdev Sydney Ferries for 18 months that asbestos material was going to be used in the 24-metre river vessels. “Those responsible at Transdev Sydney Ferries for the build of these vessels overseas using asbestos containing materials (when they could have been built to Australian standards, in NSW, by NSW workers) should own up, take responsibility and resign today,” Garrett said. •

CHEVRON NEGOTIATIONS UNDER WAY The Offshore Alliance (MUA and AWU) and ETU are negotiating with Chevron for an EBA to cover the Wheatstone platform crew in WA. Despite getting 84% support from Chevron’s offshore workforce for the commencement of bargaining, Chevron challenged the unions’ bargaining petitions in the Fair Work Commission. In a subsequent secret ballot conducted by the WA Electoral Commission, a massive 98% of members voted in favour of bargaining. •




TIME Unionists step up to COVID-19 challenge


hen it came to the crunch, and the global pandemic struck, it was the nurses and teachers, wharfies and truck drivers who came to the fore. “When the shit hits the fan, it’s not the hedge fund traders, the stockbrokers or the CEOs who step up,” said Sally McManus, Secretary Australian Council of Trade Unions. “It is the frontline workers, the essential workers who matter.” People noticed, she told the union’s national council via video link. The pandemic got everyone reflecting on what was really important in society and who was really important. McManus paid tribute to the 7,000 health care workers in Australia who have contracted COVID-19 and the 7,000 globally who have died. “A lot of our comrades have gone through some pretty horrific experiences,” she said. The perception of work has changed, McManus noted. Workers and unions have always been demonised, but the pandemic changed public opinion. McManus said governments initially panicked thinking trade unionists would shut down essential services. “They went into a tailspin when Melbourne wharfies would not unload


“Paid pandemic leave will save lives.” – SALLY McMANUS

the Xin Da Lian box ship from China, after less than two weeks at sea,” she said. “But your members were standing up for the country, not just themselves. You were refusing to let the spread of the virus through the community.” McManus said the government needed the union movement. It covered essential workers and the ACTU stepped up to the challenge. “It was not just the union movement that needed us, it was the rest of the country that depended on us,” she said. “It was the force of our values about not leaving people behind that made a difference. We are really good at what we do. We’re used to pressure; we’re used to difficult times. As union leaders that’s what it’s like all the time. Others went to pieces and stuck their heads in the sand.” While the ACTU was not given direct representation on the National COVID-19 Commission (advisory

board), former ACTU secretary Greg Combet was. The ACTU came up with JobKeeper, which helped 3.6 million people. Paid pandemic leave was the next ACTU initiative. State by state it got up. It is now also included in some awards. Unions were mindful that sick workers may otherwise feel compelled to go to work to feed their families. “Paid pandemic leave will save lives,” said McManus. JobSeeker was the next ACTU initiative. McManus reflected on how the century-long union campaigns against contracting and casual work, have now become a national conversation. “So many people have been stuck in casual jobs, stringing together three, four or five jobs to survive,” she said. “They got used to it. It became normalised. Then the brutal reality struck. You had no rights if you were casual.” Worse, insecure work in areas such the meat processing industry and aged care became the cracks in society where the virus spread. “It spread because of labour hire, because of casual work. Having so many insecure jobs, actually makes us weaker as a country,” McManus said. •


WORKPLACE VIOLENCE under the spotlight Unions roll out 16-day campaign against violence in the workplace


he global pandemic has increased risks of violence and harassment, at work as well as at home – and the union is joining a worldwide campaign to stop it, MUA women’s officer MichElle Myers reported to MUA National Council. Myers said frontline workers face increased risks of violence and harassment from anxious and stressed customers, patients and clients. Rates of domestic and family violence have spiked around the world during the pandemic, and large numbers of workers are being required to work from home, regardless of whether it is a safe work environment for them. The union is campaigning to have the federal government ratify International Labor Organisation Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work. Myers is working with the construction division of the union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation to roll out a 16-day campaign on 25 November. C190 is a ground-breaking new convention which recognises every worker’s fundamental right to be free from all forms of violence and harassment at work, including violence against women workers. Violence and harassment in the world of work can constitute a human rights violation or abuse. It is a threat to equal opportunities, unacceptable and incompatible with decent work, the ILO has declared. The convention protects against all violence and harassment whether in the workplace or going to and from work. Abuse via social media and communication technologies is also included. “Our laws don’t keep workers safe,” Myers reported. “We urgently need to improve our work health and safety, anti-discrimination laws and workplaces laws. Governments and employers must step up and do their bit to prevent violence and harassment.” Australian employers and the Australian government supported the adoption of the Convention one year ago. The government must now ratify the Convention so it can become law in Australia, Myers said. Support the push to have the convention adopted by signing the online petition. •

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Beirut Blast: Lessons Australia Beirut explosion: Lessonsfor for Australia The MUA has called on the federal government to urgently overhaul security and licensing provisions for shipments of dangerous and high consequence goods, in light of the catastrophic ammonium nitrate explosion at the port of Beirut in August. The blast killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more. The ammonium nitrate was delivered to Beirut by the Rhosus, an unseaworthy Russian-owned, Moldovan-flagged vessel. Lebanese officials impounded the ship for failing to pay port docking fees and other charges. MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said inadequate shipping regulations and security checks were creating a ticking time bomb on Australia’s coast and the Rhosus situation could easily be repeated in Australia. “Dangerous goods like weapons-grade ammonium nitrate come in and out of Australian ports on flag-of-convenience ships without any process to ensure they can safely carry that dangerous cargo, or that their crew members don’t pose security risks,” he said. “Last year, 85,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate moved through the Port of Newcastle alone — 30 times the amount that devastated Beirut — posing a significant threat to safety.” The MUA advocates legislation to require the use of Australian-registered and crewed vessels to carry high consequence cargoes such as explosives, munitions, weapons, aviation gas, and other liquid and gas fuels. •


Solidarity with Indonesian strikers MUA members demonstrated outside the Indonesian Consulate in Sydney in support of Indonesian workers on strike against new laws designed to erode labour and environmental protections and benefit foreign investors. MUA Deputy Branch Secretary Paul Keating said the union was proud to stand in solidarity with the general strike against the so-called Omnibus Bill on Job Creation. Surya, Deputy President of SP JICT dock workers union told the ITF police fired live and rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to break up protests. “I saw many protesters get injured,” he said. “Those protesting are working class Indonesians, environmental activists, and indigenous people who have already been affected by liberalisation in the mining industry and pushed off their land.” Surya said the legislation would reduce minimum wages, allow corporations to use more contract workers, cut severance pay and reduce healthcare and other benefits. •

Murder must be investigated – ITF The ITF has called on the government of the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire to ensure a thorough investigation is held into the ‘brutal murder’ of dock workers’ leader Konan Kouassi Bruno in September. Konan Kouassi Bruno was Deputy General Secretary of Collectif National des Dockers et Dockers Transit pour la Defense de Leurs Droits (CNDD). “We understand that an investigation is currently taking place but early indications that his death was an assassination are deeply concerning,” the ITF said. “We urge the Côte d’Ivoire and the judicial authorities to conduct the investigations needed to ascertain the facts and prosecute those responsible with the full force of the law.” ITF President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin described the killing of Konan Kouassi Bruno as “a cowardly act against a man whose lifetime work was dedicated to fighting for the rights of dockers and maritime workers.” “He was a committed internationalist and true friend of the ITF. He made a difference. He stood up for his what he believed in: building the collective strength of dockers through democratic debate and hard work. His achievements were numerous and will stand the test of time.” •

Life for ‘hate crime’ killings An Israeli court has handed a Jewish settler three life sentences for murdering a Palestinian toddler and his parents in a “hate crime” arson attack on their West Bank home. Amiram Ben-Uliel, 25, threw a firebomb through a window of the Dawabsha family home while they slept in July 2015. Ahmed Dawabsha, who was four at the time, was severely burned in the attack, which killed his 18-month-old brother Ali, his mother Riham and father Saed. The court said the killings were ‘carefully planned and driven by an extremist ideology and racism’. During a union mission to Israel and Palestine in 2015, ITF President Paddy Crumlin and General Secretary Stephen Cotton visited the burnt-out home and relatives of the family and added to international calls for justice to be done. Ben-Uliel was charged with murder in January 2016. Crumlin described the sentence as “a small justice in a land of great injustices. As we learned during our 2015 mission to Israel and Palestine, ordinary people in the West Bank are subject to continuous harassment and violence by Israeli settlers, and in the most extreme cases face violence and death. This verdict will not bring the Dawabshah family back, but it is a sign that these crimes will not go unpunished.” Shaher Saad, general secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Transport Unions (PGFTU) said the “satisfactory” sentence came as a result of the international community, including the ITF, condemning the crime. “I hope the perpetrators will not be released at any time in the future, as has happened in similar cases,” he said. •

US wars cause refugee exodus The “war on terror”, launched by the US and allies including Australia following alQaeda attacks in the US on 11 September, 2001, has created more refugees than any conflict since 1900 except World War 2, according to a study by a leading US university. The Brown University study conservatively estimates that “at least 37 million people have fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the US military has launched or participated in since 2001”. Of these, at least 8 million are refugees who fled abroad, and 29 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been driven from their homes and taken refuge inside their own countries. The study calculates that the post-9/11 displacement exceeds that brought about by the Russian Revolution (6 million), the First World War (10 million), IndiaPakistan Partition (14 million), East Bengal (10 million), the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (6.3 million) and the Vietnam War (13 million). The eight post-9/11 wars examined by the report are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, northwest Pakistan and the Philippines. Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, writes: “There is an instinctive assumption in the west that it is perfectly natural for people to flee their own failed states (the failure supposedly brought on by self-inflicted violence and corruption) to seek refuge in the better-run, safer and more prosperous countries.” “But what we are really seeing in those pathetic half-swamped rubber boats bobbing up and down in the Channel are the thin end of the wedge of a vast exodus of people brought about by military intervention by the US and its allies.” This colossal exodus of people generated waves of refugees that energised the xenophobic far right across Europe and was a deciding factor in the Brexit referendum of 2016, Cockburn says. He argues that American, British and French leaders might be less willing to launch wars and to keep them going if they had to pay a political price for their actions. •



Court clears Jakarta unionist

Jakarta dock worker and union activist Rio Wijaya, imprisoned on trumped up charges of assaulting company security guards, who had beaten him unconscious, has been found not guilty by a Jakarta court. Wijaya, a safety investigation officer at Hutchison’s International Container Terminal (JICT) was called to report to security on 20 August, 2019 where he was brutally assaulted by three guards. “They accused me of defaming them, but when I asked them what I’d said they attacked me,” he recalls. “I was knocked out”. Wijaya’s union comrades came to the rescue and took him to hospital. The doctor provided a written medical report detailing his injuries – a hit on the back of the head with a blunt instrument and a fractured rib. Wijaya reported the assault to Jakarta police and two of the three guards were arrested. One escaped. But security management retaliated by reporting him to the port police for assault and defamation on Facebook. “I was arrested and put in prison,” he said. “I was dumbfounded. Why put me in prison when I was the one who was attacked?” JICT management did nothing to support Wijaya, leading the union to suspect they backed the attack. The security manager behind his arrest also heads a yellow union set up by the company. Wijaya spent 41 days behind bars before a campaign waged by his union, the Indonesian labour movement,


the International Transport Workers’ Federation and MUA secured his release. His name cleared, Wijaya is now back at work. Paddy Crumlin MUA National Secretary and ITF President welcomed the verdict. “Being in a union is not a crime,” he said. “Standing up for yourself, your colleagues and the working class is not a crime. In fact, it’s your human and trade union right.” Wijaya was leading a safety campaign at the terminal at the time of his attack. Between 2016 and 2018, four workers were killed at the terminal, with up to 10 safety incidents per month. Management repeatedly refused union calls for independent investigations into the deaths. “They’d just leave the body for me to deal with and tell everyone to get back to work,” Rio recalls. “The family would come to me and ask, ‘what happened to my son?’”. The ITF backed the safety campaign, with the MUA’s Sydney Branch leading six rank and file delegations to Jakarta since 2018 and assisting three SP JICT delegations to Australia. Together the unions set up an Asia Pacific Hutchison safety committee. Port Botany workers helped raise money for Wijaya’s court costs. “The MUA fought for me,” he said. “I think of my friends in the MUA as my brothers and sisters. Thanks so much to our MUA comrades. Everyone helped me and made me strong in struggle. Together we fight and together we win.” •

Support for Venezuela under US sanctions MUA officials and rank and file members took part in an international online forum to build an ‘Anti-Imperialist Working-Class Platform’ in November. The forum focused on support for the people of Venezuela hard-hit by United States economic sanctions. MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin was a main speaker second only to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Sydney branch officials Paul Keating and Paul McAleer also took part. US sanctions were introduced by the Obama administration in 2015 and intensified by Trump from 2017. The US backed a failed military uprising against the elected Venezuelan government in 2019. The sanctions forced foreign

companies to stop doing business with Venezuela. A US oil embargo blocked the purchase of petroleum from Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, and the US also confiscated Venezuela’s US subsidiary CITGO, worth US$8 billion. “It was a huge blow for Venezuela, which received 90% of government revenue from the oil industry,” the German news agency Deutsche Welle reported. It said sanctions had resulted in lethal shortages of food and medicine including cancer and HIV drugs. DW noted that about 20% of Venezuelans no longer have access to drinkable water in their homes, because the government cannot buy foreign-built parts to fix broken pumps and other equipment.

In January, Sydney branch Deputy Secretary Paul Keating joined an Australian union delegation to attend an anti-imperialist conference and investigate conditions in Venezuela. Keating reported that the US economic embargo was having “a devastating effect on ordinary people. The basic essentials of life: food, goods, infrastructure, and above all basic medicine, is being blocked at the border and on the seas by aggressive US state policy”. However, “ordinary people are resolute that they will not tolerate foreign interference”. He said the Sydney branch of the MUA was working to forge a closer relationship with Venezuelan maritime workers, including a sister port agreement. •



Peter ‘Simmo’ Simpson: Inspirational leadership

Peter Simpson, retired Queensland Branch Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union passed away in the early hours of 24 September. Simmo was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and it was predicted he would pass quickly. With typical defiance and determination, he went on a world tour and then fought the hardest battle without complaint, while continuing his advocacy for justice in all forms – including the introduction of laws allowing those with a terminal illness the right to die with dignity. It was a telling reflection of a comrade known for his courage, toughness, determination and spirit – qualities that made him an inspirational working-class leader and trade unionist not only in Australia but also internationally. Simmo was there with support wherever and whenever workers were under threat or in struggle. This including him sending a delegation to Auckland picket lines during the lockout. There are many other instances of his understanding of and commitment to working class solidarity. He was instrumental in the fight for trade union rights and recognition particularly in Queensland and never let words get in the way of action. What he said he did, not only for electrical workers but all working women and men. His final battle is over, but his spirit, integrity and courage in the face of adversity will continue to inspire true leadership in the working class and trade union movement. Vale Simmo, champion of workers, militant activist and loved and respected union man and family man.

Charlie Gray: True man of the sea Awarding Charlie Gray his MUA life membership was one of the highlights of our Quadrennial Conference this year. He brought the tough working-class humility, ironic humour and watchful wisdom of a true seaman and trade unionist to conference for all to see. The award ceremony was a celebration of Charlie and also his generation of maritime workers and trade unionists. A knock-around, decent, humorous and loyal comrade and friend, Charlie was as good as you would want beside you in any situation, good or bad. He will be greatly missed and remembered by those who knew him as a true man of the sea, a worker who fought for our right to work with decent conditions and dignity. Charlie’s life membership was properly recognised at conference with a standing ovation from the working-class leadership of our and many other unions, both Australian and international. It was a joyful and proper celebration of our comrade and his selfless and consistent contribution to his fellow workers. Paddy Crumlin MUA National Secretary

Paddy Crumlin MUA National Secretary

deaths of dockers in Jakarta. Ivan worked with all comrades committed to the international struggle to achieve social and economic justice for all. He was untiring in his efforts to link the struggle between SP JICT, ITF and unions such as the Maritime Union of Australia. Last year, he was criminalised for his role in defending a member, Rio Wijaya, who was seriously assaulted by company security agents (see p42). Ivan managed to save Rio’s life, but a director retaliated with a false police report against him. He passed away during the court process defending justice for Rio, for his members in the SP JICT and for himself.

It was with great sadness that the ITF Dockers family learned that comrade Ivan Sukoco passed away, in Jakarta, on 6 September 2020. A true unionist and justice warrior, Brother Ivan was the former Vice President of the ITF-affiliated union Serikat Pekerja Jakarta International Container Terminal (SP JICT), which covers Hutchison’s container terminal at Tanjung Priok. Ivan was a proud union man and fighter for his members, from the fight against Hutchison’s port privatisation, to struggles against the anti-union climate in JICT, and the protest he helped lead over the

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has extended condolences to the family and friends of the late Jim Hunter, a Canadian railway worker who became president of the ITF. Born in 1932, Jim worked for the Canadian National Railway and rose through the ranks of the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway, Transportation and General Workers Union to become its president. Elected ITF president in 1986, Jim was the first non-European president in the ITF’s 90-year history. “Jim served the organisation during a period of seismic change which saw

Ivan Sukoco Hiastoto: Justice warrior


Jim Hunter: Rose through the ranks

the end of the Cold War and the rapid liberalisation and privatisation of transport services across the world,” said ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton and ITF president and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin in a joint statement. “Ninety-four new unions joined the ITF between the fall of the Berlin Wall and Jim’s retirement in 1994, testament to his leadership in a changing world.” They noted that, in his outgoing Congress address, Jim declared that “transport can be a critical leading sector in our hopes for a better world. Transport is, by its very nature, a public good and a public service which must be planned on a social basis and must take into account the environment as well as the needs of the community as a whole.”

Otto Kruger: Great union member

Otto Kruger was a well know wharfie who joined the WWF Sydney Branch in the early 1950s. He was a great member of the union and later the MUA Veterans and was involved in all branch activities. Otto had a raucous voice and could heard at stop work meetings voicing his opinions to anyone who opposed the union’s way forward. Some of us will remember ‘Danny the Dill’ who would oppose everything the branch put forward. Danny would find very little support after Otto gave him a gob full with

plenty of gusto and humour. He was great company and will be sadly missed. Jim Donovan, National Secretary MUA Veterans Association Former Secretary WWF/ MUA Sydney Branch

Neil Bevan: A boss who never bossed

Neil Bevan was one of many Sydney shipwrights who joined the WWF from the mid-1970s. He did so after the union convinced employers to take on casual shipwrights as permanent employees, providing they joined the WWF. In 1980 I was given the task of looking after the growing number of other tradesmen – mechanics, boilermakers, fitters and turners etc – who joined the WWF. That is how I met people like Neil and many others who were great union members. They got involved in the day to day activities of the union and never put themselves ahead of other workers just because they were tradespeople. Neil became the foreman of Patrick’s shipwrights after Joe Stewart died. Neil chose to stay in the WWF rather than join the foremen’s union. Everyone loved Neil. He was never a boss who bossed; he was boss who wanted the job to be done and done well and was widely respected for that. He would do anything he could do to improve the wellbeing of his beloved shipwright mates. Under Neil, no one was off the payroll: he had a member on the payroll who resided as a guest of Her Majesty the Queen for more than a year. Neil leaves this world in a much better state than when he came into it, as a result of his work to improve the lives and welfare of all he met. Jim Donovan, National Secretary MUA Veterans Association Former Secretary WWF/ MUA Sydney Branch

Bob Deagan: Tireless protector

Bob Deagan was a well-known delegate who worked at Patricks in Sydney. His striving to improve safety and other

work conditions was second to none; he was tireless in seeking to protect workers. Bob also worked very hard to keep Darling Harbour as a working port. It was to no avail as Bob Carr gave the port to greedy developers. The result can be seen today; all the land given as open space for the people has disappeared. On retirement Bob moved to the Central Coast and was really enjoying it until ill health overtook him in the last few years. We remember and thank Bob for his efforts on behalf of his fellow workers and the union he loved. Jim Donovan, National Secretary MUA Veterans Association Former Secretary WWF/ MUA Sydney Branch

Laurie Fagan: Staunch tally clerk

Laurie Fagan was a tally clerk and rugby league footballer of great ability. Before retiring in the late 1990s he worked at STL Terminal, White Bay, Sydney and in fact worked the first container ship to come to Australia, the Discovery Bay in 1969. Laurie worked in the same gang as John Hawthorne (‘Horse’) and John Hills, the first secretary of the Clerks Branch of the WWF. John tells me Laurie was a staunch supporter of the clerks joining the WWF and supported every struggle the union was involved in. Laurie played halfback for his beloved Balmain Tigers and represented NSW against Queensland. He also played for Penrith from 1967 and coached Ryde Parramatta in the second division. In the last few years he had dementia which robs people of a decent way to see out a worthy life. His wife Dot was by his side all the way. Laurie’s funeral was held on the Central Coast where he and Dot retired to many years ago. Many of his family and friends were present to say goodbye to a dearly loved person. Jim Donovan, National Secretary MUA Veterans Association Former Secretary WWF/ MUA Sydney Branch

Charles ‘Crash’ Craddock

Lee Charles ‘Crash’ Craddock was a proud member of the WWF then MUA for 27 years. I had the enormous pleasure of being on the same shift with Lee for all that time. He was one of the funniest people you could ever wish to meet and made going to work a bearable experience.

A very committed trade unionist, Crash loved this union and he wore his life membership badge with a great deal of pride. He was a larger than life character who epitomised everything good about our union and will be sadly missed by all. He was a terrific husband to Kaye and adored his girls Sally and Kellie as well as all his grandkids. There is so much more I could say but I want to leave room for the following poem written by his daughter and read at the funeral. Dennis Outram MUA Newcastle Deputy Branch Secretary (Honorary)

Our Funny Dad A beautiful man With a big belly to boot, Being around him Was always a hoot. Jokes were his specialty Always bound to impress, Much funnier than mine Which I really hate to confess. His letters to the editor Or more recently via text, Were a weekly occurrence He was quite the serial pest. Our Sunday drives as a family Took us near and far, But we knew we’d always end up At his beloved Waratah. He really loved his politics A true wharfie, labour man, A life member of the union Not just a flash in the pan. A harmonica and clunky radio, His very greatest passions, Favourite black shirt and white shorts, Always his choice of fashion. “Why don’t you wear something else Dad?” “No way, I think it’s slimming” His hairy chest and white moustache Which always needed trimming. Dad was an amazing man To all a wonderful friend, With many a funny tale to tell Until the very end. And even though the past few weeks Have been heartbreaking and sad, We’ll never forget you; we love you so much Our beautiful, funny Dad.





National council moves to lock in the union’s future as the vanguard of the labour movement, wielding workers’ capital against exploitation and modern day slavery, while restoring Australian shipping to coastal and strategic trades; creating a just transition for fossil fuel workers in offshore wind while guarding against robots and workers in third world call centres operating our wharves like ports of convenience

WORKERS’ CAPITAL Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the Workers’ Capital Report; (ii) Acknowledge the importance of the MUA’s and ITF’s role in progressing and leading the global and Australian workers’ capital agenda and work program; (iii) Requests that officials ensure they continue to explore opportunities to include a capital strategies element to union industrial, organising and growth campaigns; and (iv) Authorises the National Secretary to continue to allocate resources to this body of work.


Recommendations: (i) The finance team do a full audit of all subscriptions to online news and coordinate a national account with individual logins; (ii) Branches should ensure that at least one staff member is responsible for ensuring the website is updated and social media is kept active.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the report; (ii) Continue to campaign for the Offshore Clean Energy Infrastructure Bill to be progressed; (iii) Work to ensure that the proposed offshore wind projects are built and operated with good union agreements and offer the best possible examples of a just transition;



(iv) Develop a work program to ensure that offshore renewable energy resources are included in the next Integrated System Plan for the electricity system; (v) Put union resources into research for the potential for offshore wind in Australia, and the rationale for why it should be included in planning for the electricity system; vi) Continue to work to build understanding of and support for a just transition and good union jobs in new lowemissions industries across the environmental, climate, and union movement; vii) Continue to support and participate in the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy network in Australia and globally.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the report; (ii) Get the required advice to ensure the union can make quality submissions on the consultations on Specified Diseases for Seacare and exemptions for Seacare, and coordinate these with other maritime unions as far as possible. (iii) Continue to alert the Seacare Authority if we have any concerns that employers may be covered by Seacare but are not paying into the Berth Levy.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the report; (ii) Endorse the inclusion of Grade 1A into the Divisional membership rules and that it be sent to the Divisional National Legal Director for final drafting and approval.


STEVEDORING Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the report; (ii) That the union continue to work to dispel the economic myths within the Houston report. Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the report; (ii) Continue dialogue with the ITF dockers’ section regarding HPA automation plans. Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the report; (2) Pursue Qube JobKeeper wage theft through legal challenge. Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the report; (ii) Endorse and resource campaigning initiatives to increase industry awareness prior to the next round of waterfront bargaining.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the growth and campaigns team industrial report; (ii) Support the work to retain Bass Strait fleet and recognise this work as a centrepiece to the broader MUA shipping campaign; (iii) Endorse the work to have the Aurora Australis repurposed as an Emergency Response Vessel; (iv) Endorse the National Office and the Tasmanian Branch lobbying and agitating for a detailed policy and plan to secure the long-term future of TT-Line; (v) Endorse negotiating with TT-Line to deliver job security for our members (particularly caterers) in the downturn caused by COVID-19 and the closure of international and state borders;

(vi) Endorse the National Office and Tasmanian Branch to work to secure employment of Australian seafarers on the Everest until the delivery and commencement of service of the Nuyina; (vii) Note the attacks on members employed in the towage industry and endorse the National Secretary to ensure the necessary resources are available to defend these attacks; (viii) Note the MUA victory in defending the prosecution from the FWO in the MV Portland matter and recognise the hard work put in by everyone involved, particularly Aaron Neal and our other legal support; (ix) Endorse the National Office and Victorian branch to recommence lobbying of the Victorian Government to ensure an Australian crew is re-employed on the Victorian-West Australian Alumina trade as a part of the requirements of Alcoa in return for future taxpayer subsidies; (x) Reconfirm and endorse the ongoing work to defend Australian seafarers’ employment within the NWSSSC LNG tanker fleet.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the report; (ii) Support continued lobbying and campaigning for greater Australian content in CSL’s shipping operation.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the report and that councillors consider this first draft and prepare any comments, inclusions or ideas for the final draft to be published as a policy booklet.

INTERNATIONAL Anti-Imperialist Working Class Platform Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the report (ii) The MUA supports the Venezuelan initiative and will continue to participate. Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the Report (ii) Urges all branches to affiliate to IPAN or an IPAN affiliated peace group in your area.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the report and continue to adequately resource this work; (ii) Continue to pursue a review of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act, and the Navigation Act; (iii) Support the extension of the jurisdiction of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to cover all parts of the maritime industry; (iv) Develop a strategy to educate maritime industry participants about the risks of the current DCV Act framework and to keep building the case for change; (v) Continue to track all AMSA consultations and prepare submissions where necessary; (vi) Assist MUA branches with maritime safety issues, safety management systems, and manning and crewing of vessels; (vii) Develop training programs for union members and officials about current maritime safety regulation; (viii) Develop a STCW-aligned DCV qualifications framework proposal. Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Note the report; (ii) Note the successful outcomes from the union’s cabotage campaign in

protecting seafarer employment and building Australian content in the maritime industry; and (iii) Authorise the National Secretary to continue to allocate resources to the national shipping and policy work of the union and to the cabotage campaign.

MUA women

Recommendations: That: (i) The MUA division support the work by the women’s committee; (ii) National Council endorse support for 16 days of action and the campaign to ratify ILO C-190; (iii) National Council will participate in and ensure the branch visibly participates in the 16 days of action; (iv) National Council support further investigation into whether the union will re-engage with the foundation; (v) National council will support a rule change to allow for AA position on National Executive; (vi) National Council commit to ensuring the Equality Charter is implemented and available in branches.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Supports the continued work on the ALP policy platform; (ii) Supports Mich-Elle Myers as Vice President and endorses her candidacy in the next election for this position. Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Endorse the Women, First Nations and Youth Monthly Meetings as an important initiative to increase the activism of women, First Nations and youth in our union and to educate and involve the broader union in matters important to them; (ii) Note the report.

FINANCES Recommendations: (i) National Council directs National Executive to facilitate an external review of operations in the new union to identify operational efficiencies and savings; (ii) Further, National Council to be presented with a breakdown of expenditure in the MUA budget including flights, accommodation, expenses with a view to reducing these costs.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Provides resources for a national organising plan for SeaLink; (ii) Accelerate review of the Maritime Tourism and Chartered Vessel Award 2010.


Recommendations: That National Council: (i) Set aside appropriate resources for a new integrated membership system; (ii) Resource a communication content manager for all web, e-news and social media platforms.


Recommendation: That National Council: (i) Include Inco vessel ICS Silver Lining in the campaign to bring it under Australian manning.


Recommendation: (i) National Council direct National Executive to include succession planning and future of the union on the agenda at the next National Executive. •



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FREMANTLE PORT State government plan to shut down Fremantle flawed


state government move to shut down Australia’s best performing port, Fremantle, and develop an automated port in Kwinana, is meeting determined union opposition. Not only are thousands of jobs at stake; a sensitive habitat for dolphins, sharks, sea lions and fairy penguins would be destroyed. “The decision is flawed,” said Christy Cain, National President Maritime Union of Australia and West Coast Branch Secretary. “Its modelling and forecasting are inept and its forecasting is fanciful.” “Shutting the “Fremantle port has the best crane rate in the nation – 36 boxes an hour. That’s faster than the automated terminals port will simply on the east coast, faster than Rotterdam or Antwerp (28) favour the wealthy and it will not hit full capacity until 2050,” Cain said. and powerful.” Fremantle, a publicly owned port, puts around $100M into government coffers a year. – CHRISTY CAIN “Shutting the port will simply favour the wealthy and • powerful, particularly property developers greedy to get FULL STORY their hands on foreshore land to build luxury apartments,” Cain said. p38 The union has called on the WA Labor government not to rush important economic decisions. •


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