Guest Workers On $38 A Day A Disgrace - ITF

The Tongan-owned vessel Hakula berthed in Adelaide is under increasing pressure from the International Transport Worker Federation (ITF) to pay it's Tongan crew adequate wages

"You'd think that a Tongan-owned vessel would look after its own but not in this case. Of the ship's crew of 16, 7 are Tongan and 8 Ukranian and the Ukranians  are being paid a wage in accord with an ITF agreement which guarantees a minimum wage", said Matt Purcell, ITF assistant coordinator in Australia.

"We say that if it's good enough for the Ukranian crew then it should be good enough for the Tongans. It's a disgraceful abuse of these workers.

"ITF officials have been on the ship and made their case clear to the captain but he has dismissed demands.  We are considering further action, mindful that the vessel, which has been loading soda ash, is due to sail for Newcastle tomorrow (Thursday)", Purcell said.

"This ship does not have an ITF agreement for the Tongan crew and is operating in Australian coastal waters under a Single Voyage permit from the Government.

"It's effectively a Flag of Convenience (FOC) vessel which have a practice of treating their workers abysmally and treating them in ways Australian operators would find entirely unacceptable.

 "It provides strong argument for changes being considered by the government to reform licensing and permit arrangements of overseas vessels trading on the Australian coast. It also underlines the importance of revitalising the Australian fleet so that we don't have to rely on substandard shipping.

"The action at the Hakula follows a fortnight of action by the ITF as part of an offensive against FOC vessels", said Purcell.

Media Contact: Matt Purcell ITF 0418 387966

Michael Meagher: 0410 482367