Community Rally in Support of the MV Portland Crew

Australian jobs should not be replaced with exploited workers paid as little as $2/hour

 

Australia’s national and job security and natural environment should not be put at risk

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The Maritime Union of Australia held simultaneous rallies outside the offices of Liberal member for Wannon Dan Tehan and State Liberal Roma Britnell, in response to their disgraceful comments regarding the treatment of the MV Portland crew.

On January 13, at 1am five crewmembers aboard the Alcoa-owned vessel – the MV Portland – were woken by up to 30 security guards and intimidated into leaving the vessel following a 60-day dispute.

Mr Tehan condoned, via the media, the actions of the security guards and the American-based multi-million dollar aluminium miner who hired the guards.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said Mr Tehan’s comments were not only callous, they were also misinformed. 

“Mr Tehan claims the crew were holding the town of Portland to ransom, I fail to see how that’s true given the ship was moved in a number of instances,” Mr Bray said.

“Mr Tehan also thinks it’s ok to be woken in the dead of the night by dozens of hired goons, in a clear case of intimidation and harassment, and to be discarded without a second thought. Well Mr Tehan, I, and the majority of the informed public, don’t think that’s acceptable behaviour.”

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Alcoa and the crew of the MV Portland had been in an ongoing dispute after the company announced it would sack the crew, scrap the vessel and bring on a replacement foreign vessel with a foreign crew to ply the domestic route between Western Australia and the Portland smelter.

Current legislation dictates that domestic vessels such as the MV Portland, that trade exclusively between Australian ports have to be Australia-flagged, Australia-crewed and comply with Australian safety, environmental and labour regulation. However, in an unprecedented move the Turnbull Government approved a Temporary Licence allowing Alcoa to circumvent the law.

Mr Bray said all Australians should be concerned by this outcome.

“The Turnbull Government, which Dan Tehan is a member, has signaled that profitable multi-national corporations don’t have to hire Australian workers in Australia,” he said

“It’s seafarers today, but whose job will it be tomorrow?”