The MUA has won key concessions from ship operator CSL in the wake of the recent departure of the CSL Thevenard from the Australian coast.
As reported at the monthly meeting, MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith have just returned from a meeting with the company in Montreal.
This followed a meeting with CSL in Australia attended by Smith, QLD Branch Secretary Bob Carnegie, SNSW Branch Secretary Garry Keane and SA Branch Secretary Jamie Newlyn.
Following these meetings by MUA officials, all crew members from the CSL Thevenard will be transferred with no forced redundancies.
The company has also agreed to meet with MUA officials every three months in a bid to try to maintain a consistent dialogue aimed at swift resolution of issues which arise throughout the fleet.
“Importantly, the company agreed that there will be no forced redundancies from the CSL Thevenard and MUA members from the crew will be transferred elsewhere in the CSL fleet," Crumlin said.
“We will also have better ongoing engagement with the company, which is badly needed and should be an effective mechanism for the MUA to deal with the concerns of MUA members."
In Montreal, Crumlin and Smith met with CSL chief executive Louis Martel and other senior managers from the company.
“The meeting dealt with Australian content in CSL's shipping operations that has the ability to stabilise the relationship with CSL on a number of levels,” Crumlin said.
Seafarers International Union (SIU) Canada President and ITF Cabotage Task Force Chair James Given also weighed into the debate in Canada by highlighting the issues for the ITF cabotage campaign following the company's actions in removing the CSL Thevenard from Australian coastal trade.
"The MUA thanks Jim Given and the ITF Cabotage Taskforce for their solidarity and efforts to and highlighted the need for the company to reboot the relationship with the MUA,” Crumlin said.
Smith said the MUA was also able to identify precise numbers with respect to CSL’s Australian content after examining all of CSL’s Temporary Licence (TL) applications and cargo tonnages on the coast.
"We knew there was a significant drop off in Australian content in CSL’s Australian operations as a direct effect of the deregulatory and free market response of the shipping department under the guidance and leadership of the Turnbull Government,” Smith said."the government through their application of temporary licenses by the department is actively encouraging a number of other shipping companies operating in the spot charter market to undermine CSL vessels with Australian crews"
The frank exchange at the meeting delivered by Crumlin and the willingness of senior management of the company to find alternative solutions led to a number of outcomes:
It was agreed at that meeting to start a number of ongoing processes that would improve the engagement of the workforce and the union.
Three new Enterprise agreements will now be subject to negotiations with the MUA. This will bring the number of MUA vessels and operations from two to five.
The following new agreements will be subject to negotiations:
• CSL Whyalla
• FOTB operation
"These areas are transhipment operations and are the most stable areas of employment within the Australian operations of CSL,” Smith said.
"The agreements will need some work and the workplaces will have to be transformed to a safe Australian operation standard.
"This is an initial outcome for the union significantly addressing CSL Australian content and emphasises the ongoing importance of continuing to lobby and hit as many pressure points as we can in moving ahead with our campaign to win back Australian shipping."
On the back of these developments, the union is also undertaking further work along the logistics supply chains and that will involve dealing with fraternal unions and some of the bigger bulk commodity suppliers who utilise Australian shipping and in many respects are a major player in pushing costs down and making Australian shipping suffer in competition with the worst standards.
The ITF is also looking very closely at the other spot charters of bulk cargoes in the Australian domestic shipping market, including Gearbulk and Swire Shipping.
Many issues arising from the removal of the CSL Thevenard have been integrated into the broader shipping campaign led by Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray and and it has been decided to extend and deepen the campaign in political, policy, regulatory and industrial areas.
“The MUA is organising a number of actions around the country, including the next sitting of the federal Parliament in Canberra,” Bray said.
“We need to keep up the fight and continually remind politicians that they need to protect Australian jobs."
Several branches held demonstrations following the monthly meeting, including a rally outside the office of Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton, who has so far ignored the recent Senate Inquiry report into Flag of Convenience shipping that highlighted deep concerns with FOC operation and operation and ownership.