The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) today met with Orica after highlighting significant environmental, safety and human rights concerns regarding the crewing of the MCP Kopenhagen, which is currently off the Newcastle coast.
The operation of the MCP Kopenhagen has concerned members of the local community in Newcastle following a number of safety incidents involving Orica in recent months.
A range of matters relating to Orica's shipping task were discussed with senior management of the company in Sydney.
Orica has expressed its ongoing commitment to ensure that their fleet will be covered by International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) agreements.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said this was a good first step in ensuring that Orica moves towards best practice with regards to its shipping operations. Further meetings are scheduled.
"There are still widespread community concerns in Newcastle, and elsewhere, about the movement of toxic and hazardous substances," Mr Smith said.
"The MUA and the company are maintaining an ongoing dialogue to ensure that all concerns raised in relation to the MCP Kopenhagen and its crew are addressed, including the repatriation of seafarers who have been on board for as long as 15 months.
"The MUA is also seeking commitments from the company over their ongoing coastal trading arrangements.
"The MUA is happy to work with Orica to ensure that their shipping operations are of the highest standard rather than relying on bottom-of-the-barrel flag of convenience vessels for international and coastal trades.
"It is the strong view of the MUA that the safest and most productive mode of operation for Orica's coastal trade is Australian licensed vessels with an Australian crew because local seafarers are amongst the best trained in the world."
Shipping reform legislation is currently before the Australian Parliament. The new regime offers zero company tax and accelerated depreciation to provide a level playing field for reputable Australian operators.
"This will mean there is no excuse for companies to rely on flag of convenience vessels to move their goods around the Australian coast," Mr Smith said.