Common Sense Prevails With Agreement to Move MV Portland For Cruise Ship Visit

The Maritime Union of Australia is pleased to announce that all parties have agreed to move the MV Portland from its current berth in order to allow the arrival of the cruise liner ‘Pacific Jewel’ in Portland on January 7. The vessel will then return to the port.

The MUA attended a meeting in Portland today, along with Glenelg Council chief executive Greg Burgoyne and Port Authority chief executive Jim Cooper. The MUA and Alcoa management have also been in close contact for the past few days.

“The MUA is today pleased to announce that parties have reached agreement to temporarily move the MV Portland, which means the Pacific Jewel will arrive in Portland on January 7 as planned,” MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said.

“This dispute was never about impacting local businesses in Portland, it has always been about standing up for Australian jobs and it’s good to see that common sense has prevailed.”

The Maritime Union of Australia has been in dispute with miner Alcoa since early November regarding the company’s intention to sack 40 seafarers and remove a national-flagged ship, the MV Portland, from service. 

The ship has carried cargo from refineries in Western Australia to a smelter in Portland, Victoria for 27 years.

Alcoa intends to continue this trade but has been granted a temporary licence from the Turnbull Government which will allow them to do so with a foreign-flagged ship with a foreign crew being paid as little as $2-an-hour. 

“Australia currently has cabotage laws which dictate that ships trading through domestic ports are to be Australian flagged and crewed,” Mr Bray said.

“The Turnbull Government should never have issued this temporary licence to Alcoa as it is contrary to the intent of existing legislation and they should cancel it immediately.”

The crew of the MV Portland also released a statement: “It has never been our intention to block cruise ships from entering Portland Harbour. Today’s agreement to move the MV Portland, only for it to return after the cruise ship has left, is in line with that.

“Our dispute has never been with the town of Portland that our ship proudly calls home. Our dispute is about the right for Australians to work in their own country, for Australian seafarers to work on ships around their own country and not be replaced by foreign-crewed vessels paying as little as $2 an hour.

“We look forward to the continued support from the Portland community and will keep up the fight for Australian jobs at the community assembly at Lee Breakwater.”