ACTU Reaffirms Support for MUA's Shipping Campaign

The Maritime Union of Australia was successful in passing a motion regarding the 'Crisis in Coastal Shipping' as Australian Council of Trade Unions Executive members met today in Melbourne.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously, was read as the following:

ACTU Executive notes that the recent Congress reaffirmed its strong support for maintenance and growth of an Australian domestic shipping industry (full Congress resolution follows below).

Executive notes that Congress agreed that Australian unions will strongly defend maritime cabotage, believing that reservation of a proportion of domestic cargo for Australian ships, supplemented by conditional access to residual and emergency cargoes by foreign ships, is in Australia’s national interest.

Executive notes that Congress agreed that the ACTU will strongly resist efforts to replace Australian seafarers with foreign labour, in conjunction with the maritime unions, and will not accept the use of foreign seafarer labour operating in the coastal shipping trades, a domestic industry, being employed under terms and conditions of the nation of supply of the foreign seafarer labour.

Executive notes the recent dispute regarding the decision by Caltex to terminate Australian employment on the petroleum tanker the Alexander Spirit, and applauds the efforts of the crew, the wider union movement and local communities in seeking to defend these quality Australian jobs, and to condemn the company’s actions in circumstances where there are still large volumes of coastal trade in refined petroleum products requiring transportation.

Executive agrees that this latest loss of an Australian ship from the coastal trades represents a wider crisis in Australian shipping, and that the ACTU cannot stand by without taking steps to identify the opportunities to redress this crisis and lack of appropriate industry policy response from the Government.

Given this crisis, Executive authorises the ACTU leadership, in conjunction with the maritime unions, political representatives and stakeholders representing shipowners/operators and shippers, to organise a shipping industry summit, aimed at:

• Finding solutions that stem the loss of Australian registered and Australian crewed ships from the Australian domestic seaborne freight trade;

• Identify longer term regulatory and fiscal arrangements that attract investment in ships and builds the industry through reformed shipping legislation, and a wide ranging shipping industrial policy package;

• Developing coastal shipping policy options to put to Government as an alternative to the Government’s Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 currently before the Parliament which if passed will wipe out the remaining domestic shipping industry.

ACTU 2015 Congress Resolution on coastal shipping – 26 May 2015

Australian Coastal Shipping Industry

Australian unions, meeting at ACTU Congress 2015, reaffirm their strong support for a maintenance and growth of an Australian domestic shipping industry.

A productive and efficient Australian shipping industry is considered by Australian unions as an essential part of Australia’s economic and transport infrastructure.

Australian shipping is a vital service industry that supports Australian manufacturing, the Australian offshore oil and gas industry, the agriculture and aquaculture industries. It services remote island communities and supports the marine and cruise aspects of the tourism sector. Australian shipping plays a key role in border protection and supports the Australian Defence effort.

Australian unions will strongly defend maritime cabotage , believing that reservation of a proportion of domestic cargo for Australian ships, supplemented by conditional access to residual and emergency cargoes by foreign ships is in Australia’s national interest. Australian shipping is vital to maritime security and the national Defence effort. Domestic shipping is important for protection of the marine environment. Its safety record is exemplary relative to foreign shippings operating in Australian waters.

Australian unions condemn the short sighted policy of the Abbott Government to substantially deregulate Australian coastal shipping, and for the first time in over 100 years, abandon bi partisan policy support for maritime cabotage.

Australian unions serve notice on the Abbott government that we will strongly resist efforts, in conjunction with the maritime unions, to abandon Australian shipping and to undo Labor's 2012 shipping reform package.

Australian unions will not accept the use of foreign seafarer labour operating in the coastal shipping trades, a domestic industry, being employed under terms and conditions of the nation of supply of the foreign seafarer labour. This is considered by Australian unions as a complete undermining of the application of Australian labour, safety, tax, migration and other relevant domestic law. This is unacceptable in every other industry and it is unacceptable in domestic shipping. Australian unions agree that this amounts to WorkChoices on water as articulated by the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. We will resist the Government’s proposal to adopt this unnecessary pathway.

Australian unions are concerned that the Abbott Government policy to deregulate Australian shipping will have negative consequences for maritime jobs where some 2000 direct seafarer jobs and up to 10,000 related jobs will be under thereat, for maritime skills which are dependant on Australian ships to deliver highly qualified seafarers, for fuel security which will be at risk if there are no Australian liquid cargo vessels, for national security and will pose a threat to the marine environment.

Australian unions call on the Abbott Government to abandon its provocative and disastrous policy approach. Australian unions do not believe the policy or political case has been made for this radical course of action to destroy the Australian shipping industry. We call on all parties to oppose the Government's deregulation policy for Australian shipping, and to work with the stakeholders on policy and legislative refinements which builds on Labor’s 2012 reforms, and delivers an efficient and productive Australian shipping industry based on fair competition and which creates investment in ships suitable to Australia’s domestic seaborne transport requirements.