The MUA protested outside the office of Federal Member for Paterson, Bob Baldwin, today as the NSW and Federal Governments continue to obscure details surrounding the forced removal of five Australian crew members from the CSL Melbourne by up to 70 police officers last Friday.
More than 80 MUA members and other community and union supporters turned out to Baldwin's office to ask why he wasn't standing up for Australian jobs.
The MUA crew onboard the CSL Melbourne, chartered by Pacific Aluminium, had been told that all of their jobs would be lost when they sailed the vessel to Singapore.
The vessel had been running alumina between Newcastle and Gladstone for the past five years but the company received a temporary licence from the Turnbull Government, which meant the Australian crew could be replaced by exploited foreign seafarers on as little as $2/hr.
MUA Newcastle Branch Secretary Glen Williams said: “Senate Estimates in Canberra this week revealed that Federal Government Departments and Agencies knew that the Australian crew from the MV Portland were going to be replaced by exploited foreign seafarers on as little as $2/hr.
“Yet agencies failed to acknowledge that workers or their union should be considered “relevant stakeholders” when passing on that information. Bureaucrats also tried to cover up their knowledge during the hearings.
“With the case of the CSL Melbourne, Independent Senator John Madigan put questions to the Australian Federal Police at Senate Estimates about their role in at least 15 officers going onboard the vessel and more than 50 in support roles and on water, to remove just five seafarers.
“These blokes aren’t terrorists nor are they threatening in any way - two of them in their 60s and the crew has 113 years of experience at sea. There’s some pretty serious overkill going on here.
“The AFP says they had nothing to do with the raid and had no prior knowledge. That’s fair enough but this raises more questions than answers.
“Who ordered the raid?
“Who paid for more than 70 NSW Police to come to a vessel to remove just five seafarers, none of whom were arrested or charged?
“Will taxpayers be compensated by the company for this heavy-handed response, which would have cost at least $50,000 when you consider that many of the police were brought in from elsewhere in NSW?
“When is the last time taxpayers forked out $50,000 for a Ukrainian captain onboard a Barbados-flagged vessel, owned by Canadian multi-national company to remove a troublesome Australian crew?
Following this protest, some MUA members joined other unionists in strife at Yancoal, a Chinese mining company which wants to put its current workforce onto dodgy contracts by creating a subsidiary company.