Hundreds of unionists and supporters hit the streets of Devonport today in solidarity with the 36 crew members of the fuel tanker the Alexander Spirit.
Last week the workers aboard the Caltex-owned ship were told their upcoming voyage to Singapore would be their last.
A number of high profile supporters joined the crew and the Devonport community, including; Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, ACTU President Ged Kearney, ALP Senator Anne Urquhart, Tasmanian Opposition Leader Bryan Green, Bass ALP Candidate Justine Keay and MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray.
Mr Bray said Caltex was misleading the Australian public by insisting that there was not enough trade to sustain the Australian-crewed Alexander Spirit.
“I would love for Caltex to explain why the Liberian-flagged Stolt Kikyo is alongside in Geelong and what trip Caltex has planned for that vessel they have brought in to replace the Alexander Spirit,” he said.
“Why haven’t the soon-to-be redundant crew from the Alexander Spirit crew been offered replacement jobs on the vessel?”
“Why is the Government allowing Caltex to run roughshod over the intent of Cabotage laws by allowing this replacement vessel to do what was, up until today, the Alexander Spirit run?”
“So many unanswered questions and I think the crew has a right to know why they have been cast aside in the worst way possible.”
ACTU President Ged Kearney joined the community rally and condemned the Abbott Government.
“The fact the Abbott Government is intent on passing legislation that they know will have an impact on local jobs shows how little regard they have for Australian workers,” Ms Kearney said.
“The seafarers aboard the Alexander Spirit are the latest in the litany of workers being thrown on the scrapheap as a result of bad Government decisions.”
Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie was also present at the rally and was afforded an opportunity to talk to the crew about their plight aboard the ship.
“If we’re going to act in our Nation’s best interest and guarantee Australian jobs and the skills base for our entire Maritime industry - it might be time to follow the example of the (others) and put in place policy measures which restrict coastal trade to Australian built, owned, crewed and flagged vessels,” Lambie said in a previous statement.
“If we follow the Liberal / National’s plan and abandon our Maritime industry solely to a free, liberalized market – and the influence of multinational corporations’ insatiable need for bigger profits – then Australia will place our food, fuel, energy and national security in the hands of foreigners.”
“My thoughts, support and best wishes are with the Australian Crew of the Alexander Spirit and their families. This is a very difficult time for them.
“As the official records show, they are in a fight with very rich, powerful and influential people, however I believe that ordinary Australians will support our maritime workers and eventually we will win this fight.”