Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National President and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin today applauded the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention.
Mr Crumlin told the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Conference in Cairns that the Maritime Labour Convention is an outstanding achievement in international relations and will support the future of the shipping industry.
"The Maritime Labour Convention represent a major watershed in international shipping, adding the pillar of workers' rights alongside existing standards of safety, security and crew standards," Mr Crumlin said.
"By lifting international minimum standards, the Convention will promote fair and decent work for Asia-Pacific regional seafarers who make up 60 per cent of the world's crews."
Mr Crumlin talked up the importance of the Convention in ensuring that all seafarers have their human and labour rights recognized.
Although the Convention will target the sub-standard labour conditions on many international ships, it will also provide a valuable boost to Australian shipping.
"During the years of the Howard Government, we saw an appalling neglect of the Australian shipping industry. Ships carry 99 per cent of the total volume of Australia's trade, but less than half of one per cent of this is carried by our own ships," Mr Crumlin said.
"Over the 11 years under Howard, we saw a deliberate and calculated undermining of Australian national-flagged vessels. The Australian ship register was reduced to such a state as to dangerously impact on every level of Australian maritime competency.
"The introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention is part of the Gillard Labor Government's commitment to restoring our capacity to participate in our maritime objectives."
Mr Crumlin noted that with the Convention, labour conditions would be ensured for all workers and policed by Australian authorities in our ports.
"Once ratified, we hope the Convention will ensure that working conditions for all seafarers around the globe are brought into line. This will allow Australia to compete on its efficiency rather than labour conditions," Mr Crumlin said.
Mr Crumlin also highlighted the importance of the MLC in fighting the ITF's 'Flag of Convenience' campaign.
"The convention will address the worst features of the FOC system by codifying international safety standards, human rights, trade union rights and labour standards," Mr Crumlin said.