Big Win For Crew On Board Araluen Spirit

Oil giant Shell has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the MUA following the occupation by seafarers of the Araluen Spirit in Sydney Harbour.

The crew of the Araluen Spirit had a big win when they made national headlines as they occupied the ship at Gore Bay in Sydney Harbour on October 27.

MUA delegate Bruce Frary explained his reasons for occupying the vessel on YouTube: "I am an Australian seafarer and father of three children. Like a lot of other Australians I have a mortgage and bills, so I need to work.

"I've chosen to occupy the Shell-operated and managed vessel, Araluen Spirit, to ask Shell to keep this vessel, or replace it with an Aussie-manned and flagged ship and not a flag of convenience ship.

"I don't want another Pasha Bulker or Rena polluting any Australian beaches or harbours."

The MUA expressed solidarity with the crew for taking a stand for their livelihood - and the broader principle of Australian jobs - by refusing to sail the vessel.

Shell's decision to remove the ship from the Australian coast came despite the fact the total maritimetrade around Australia in refined petroleum products - petrol, diesel, jet fuel - grew by 38 per cent between 2004-5 and 2009-10.

Shell is an economic colossus. The company made a global profit of $18.6bn USD in 2010 - that's enough money to pay an Australian seafarer's annual wage every three minutes.

The MUA met with Shell, who agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to replace the vessel when Shell permit usage exceeds 75 per cent of the Tandara Spirit's annual volume.

Shell also agreed to direct their Single Voyage Permits (SVPs) to Australian-licenced and crewed ships.

MUA Assistant National Secretary, Warren Smith met with the crew on board the Araluen Spirit on Saturday October 29 and the crew unanimously endorsed the outcome.

"One of the major provisions of the MOU is Shell’s commitment to direct their future permit usage to Australian licenced and crewed vessels when certain criteria are met," Mr Smith said.

"This enables us to continue to argue - particularly post-shipping reform - for further tonnage on the coast by identifying viable and available markets for the shipment of coastal product."