Crew Refuses To Sail Tassie Ship

Crew on board the Southern Shipping vessel Matthew Flinders are refusing to sail the vessel over unpaid wages and have called on the support of the Maritime Union and the International Transport Workers' Federation.

"They took a stand on Friday and refused to sail," said MUA Tasmania Branch Secretary Jason Campbell.  "They've had ongoing issues with their employer for 18 months.  They've had to go and beg for their pay and now they've had enough. Southern Shipping is a rogue operator."

The government contracted ship which sails between Tasmania, Victoria, Flinders and Bass Strait  Island, carrying livestock and produce is docked at the Lady Baron wharf, Finders Island.

The five non union crew have called on the ITF and the MUA saying they are owed around $30,000 in backpay.

Ship's captain Percy Barnett says morale has been low over the pay issue.

"We've had enough of just beg, beg, beg all the time, just to get your pay."

The captain said the company is threatening him and his crew with legal action.

The ship is government subsidised but has been in financial difficulty for some time and is reported to be behind in wharfage fees.

I a letter to the ministers office the MUA warned the company was a rogue operator "that has done everything possible to avoid reasonable negotiations with the Union and has resisted all attempts at discussion i.e. good faith bargaining and has denied reasonable access to the workforce."

"I was contacted last Friday by the crew of the Matthew Flinders, Media, the Chamber of Commerce and the federal member for Bass asking for the MUA's assistance," said Jason Campbell.  "The company looks set to go under."

In March this year the ship ran aground on a beach in King Island (see photo).