MUA Calls For Action on Chevron Dodgy Visa

The Maritime Union of Australia’s Western Australia branch has called for immediate action to halt serious visa irregularities and breaches of immigration law by Chevron Australia LTD.

In a 17 May letter to Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Immigration & Citizenship, MUA Branch Secretary Chris Cain writes that Chevron has engaged a Dutch shipping company on whose ships, “foreign nationals have been engaged to perform dogman duties in the discharge of pipe from the Maasgracht vessel. The workers in question are foreign nationals including Filipino, Russian and Dutch crew. The MUA is further advised that a number of other vessels are currently in Dampier, ready to discharge cargo.”

Image - Maasgracht.jpg

The visas do not permit crew to undertake the dogman work, Cain explains in the letter [the full letter is attached to this release]. In addition, a host of other vessels are currently in Dampier ready to discharge cargo, making immediate action necessary, Cain writes.

“We have hundreds of MUA members who are unemployed who are skilled and trained to the dogman work,” said Cain. “Chevron, through its engagement of Spliethoff, is potentially violating some key provisions of immigration law. And what is worse, we know that the foreign nationals working the ships are not being paid Australian equivalent rates of pay.

The MUA is also lodging a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman seeking action on the violations of Australian employment law.

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Hon. Brendan O’Connor
Minister for Immigration & Citizenship
Suite 1 Level 2 13-15 Lake Street Caroline Springs VIC 3023
17 May 2013
Via email: Brendan.O'Connor.MP@aph.gov.au

Dear Sir,

I wish to raise concerns about potential visa irregularities and breaches of immigration legislation by the Spliethoff Group. Spliethoff is a Dutch shipping company that has been engaged by Chevron Australia Ltd to discharge cargo from a number of supply vessels to rig tenders. This work is currently being performed in Dampier, Western Australia.

The Maritime Union of Australia (WA Branch) has been made aware that foreign nationals have been engaged to perform dogman duties in the discharge of pipe from the Maasgracht vessel. The workers in question are foreign nationals including Filipino, Russian and Dutch crew. The MUA is further advised that a number of other vessels are currently in Dampier, ready to discharge cargo. This includes the Danzigracht, Deltagracht, Dynamogracht and Dolphingracht. The Spliethoff vessel, Molelngracht, departed from Dampier on 10 May after discharging cargo.

The MUA believes that foreign crew are engaged on one of three following visas:

1. 457 Visas

2. eVisitor (subclass 651) Business Visas

3. eVisitor (subclass 676) Tourist Visas

4. Maritime Crew Visas

Regardless of the visa type issued to the foreign nationals, none of the visas permit crew to undertake the dogman work currently being performed by such crew on the aforementioned vessels. The foreign nationals have been working in Australian waters for the past fortnight in breach of their visas. The MUA has been advised that the foreign nationals are not being paid Australian equivalent rates of pay. The Union believes that Spliethoff are in breach of Australian employment legislation as follows:

1. Employment of foreign nationals in breach of visas issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

2. Payment of wages and conditions that are significantly less than those paid to Australian workers performing equivalent tasks (as prescribed by the Total Marine Services Pty Ltd Integrated Ratings, Cooks, Caterers and Seafarers (Offshore Oil and Gas) Enterprise Agreement 2010).

3. Non payment of Superannuation as required by the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration Act 1992).

4. No workers compensation cover as prescribed by the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992.

5. Payment of workers in foreign currency.

6. No taxation being remitted to the Australian Taxation Office.

Dogman work is being performed by foreign nationals despite the MUA having 300 unemployed members who are skilled and trained to perform such work. There are thousands of construction workers across Australia who are also trained, willing and able to undertake the work being performed by foreign nationals on the Spliethoff vessels.

Due to the nature and timeframe of work, the Spliethoff vessels stay in Australia is brief, departing immediately cargo has been discharged. Accordingly, there is significant urgency in the Union’s complaints being investigated by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Furthermore, the Maritime Union of Australia is also lodging this complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman in regard to the non compliance of Spliethoff with Australian employment law obligations. Complaints have also been made with Worksafe (WA) into the need for an investigation into whether the foreign nationals have the relevant high risk licences. The MUA has concerns about possible breaches of the Occupational safety and Health Act 1984 in this regard.

I look forward to your urgent action in regards to the matters raised.

Sincerely,

CHRIS CAIN
West Coast State Secretary
National Vice President
Maritime Union of Australia
Western Australian Branch
Cc: Fair Work Ombudsman GPO Box