The Maritime Union of Australia says the Fair Work Ombudsman must get back to the task of ensuring Australian jobs after its landmark case against seven crew members of the Tandara Spirit was withdrawn.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the FWO pulled its investigation after wasting the time and resources of the union and putting workers through unacceptable stress anxiety.
"The FWO has used taxpayers' money to go after unemployed Aussie seafarers who were sacked under the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s controversial and widely-criticized policies that discriminate against Australian workers in favor of the use of international seafarers in our domestic jobs market,” Crumlin said.
“The FWO should be looking at ways for Australian workers to have jobs, then we wouldn’t be in this position. Instead, the FWO appears to be merely resorting to policy sycophancy to its political masters who have an ideological axe to grind against unions.
“The MUA had thought the $2/hour paid to the exploited foreign seafarers who replaced the Tandara Spirit was the bottom of the barrel but a new low of $1.25/hr on vessels hired by BP and Caltex was recently uncovered.
“The MUA has been saying for several years that BP ships around 900,000 tonnes of fuel each year from its Kwinana Refinery in Western Australia to other cities in Australia and this work should be undertaken by Australian seafarers as it qualifies as coastal cargo.
“That’s the sort of thing the FWO should be going after, rather than an ideological frolic to try to stamp out unions and their workers at the behest of Eric Abetz and Michaelia Cash.
"There are now no Australian-crewed fuel tankers, down from 11 in 1995 and that flies in the face of any credible national security plan.
"Unlike Australian seafarers, foreign crews have no security checks yet they are carrying petroleum products, ammonium nitrate and LNG around the Australian coast.
“The ongoing closure of refineries around Australia means we now import over 90 per cent of our petrol and diesel up from 60 per cent in 2000 and this number will continue to rise if there are any further closures of Australia’s few remaining refineries.
“More than half of Australia's fuel comes through the Straits of Hormuz to Singapore and the narrow Straits of Malacca, an area already notorious for its piracy.
"Add to that the potential flashpoint in the South China Sea and it’s clear we should be refining at home and shipping fuel around the coast using Australian vessels and crews.
“The Turnbull Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the IEA 90-day storage rules and oil companies should also be held responsible given they have in recent years replaced Australian-manned ships with FOC vessels flagged in notorious tax havens such as Panama, Liberia and the land-locked nation of Mongolia.”
MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray, who was on the ground in Victoria at the time, said it needs to be pointed out that nearly all of these seafarers are still unemployed.
“While it is welcome news that these seafarers from the Tandara Spirit are no longer being prosecuted by the FWO, there are still no jobs for them to go to. They were replaced under the watch of the Abbott/Turnbull Government by exploited foreign labour and that hasn’t changed.”