The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) today lost its appeal to the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission over a dispute onboard the Alexander Spirit.
The oil tanker has been in Devonport for almost a week after the Australian crew refused to sail the vessel when they learnt they would be sacked upon arrival in Singapore.
The crew was contracted until 2019 and Caltex has cited changed trading arrangements as the reason for dismissal.
Shore workers told crew members late last week that they were about to make their last voyage and congratulated them for their camaraderie over the years.
After asking for a guarantee from their employer, the crew was eventually issued with a letter from Caltex telling them that once they got to Singapore they would be replaced by an international crew.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said: “This move by Caltex is driven purely by the desire for increased profit.”
“The company today posted a 45 per cent increase in half yearly profit to $251 million yet at the same time they are sacking 36 honest Australian workers onboard the Alexander Spirit and replacing them with exploited foreign workers on as little as $2/hr.
“We’re disappointed by today’s decision but we’ll continue to stand up and fight for Aussie jobs.”
Australia is already down to four refineries and two Australian-crewed vessels carrying fuel around our coast, compared to eight refineries and 11 vessels in 1996.
The MUA believes Australian refining and Australian shipping remain a vital part of ensuring our fuel security into the future and unless the Government does something, we are forecast to have no refineries and no Australian shipping within a few years.
“We would have no insurance policy against any major supply shock – whether it be from a refinery fire in Singapore, a terrorist or piracy attack in the Straits of Malacca, or environmental tragedy on the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Bray said.
“The Abbott Government is giving the green light for shipping companies to dump Australian crews through their failure to act on the issue of fuel security and their plans to remove the current legal protections for Australian employment in the Coastal Trading Act.
“Instead of protecting local jobs, the Abbott Government continues to oversee the demise of local industries and make it easier for companies to use cheap overseas labour at the expense of local jobs.”