MUA Tug Boat Crews Working Hard During Flood Recovery; MUA Collecting Donations

Maritime Union of Australia members working on tug boats on the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay expect to be busy for at least the next week with flood clean up operations.

MUA National Secretary and President of the International Transport Workers' Federation, Paddy Crumlin, said the MUA's tug delegate Brian Gallagher had reported that while the river was finally calming down, the tug crews would be hard at work for some time to come.

"Our members have been in the flood waters working hard to stop collisions where runaway LPG tanks and yachts were in danger of crashing into bridge pylons and wharves, not to mention getting ships out to sea that were about to be swept away," he said.

"When Brisbane port closed on January 11, all tug crews were put on emergency standby and all shipping had to be removed from the port.

"Two tugs were called in to push up a container ship after the mooring parted, and four tugs were needed on the departure of one tanker, plus another three tugs were needed for smaller tankers.

"Our crews have also had to resort to pushing runaway boats up onto the banks of creeks to get them out of the way," he said.

"The tug crews have been flat out and they expect to spend at least the next week continuing this clean up and salvage work.

"Then they hope to get back to their normal work of assisting large commercial vessels with berthing and departures."

James Harling,  Svitzer Newstead Tug, said his crew had rescued a 52-foot yacht with four people on board, and had also helped to safely manoeuvre a leaking 15,000 litre LPG tank that was found floating down the river.  

"We didn't know where it came from," he said. "The tug was unable to lash the tank, so it shadowed it down the river and out into Moreton Bay.

"Other tugs have been working up and down the river dodging debris like pontoons and runaway boats to stow the larger debris and boats out of the strong river currents into calm waters.

"The markers our crews normally use were washed away and this has made it extra hard to navigate the tugs amongst the debris and strong currents."

Mr Crumlin also said donations had come into the MUA national office from around the country and abroad.

"The union quickly set up a special fundraising account with the credit union, with other going directly to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal," he said.

"The donations already total more than $200,000."

Mr Crumlin said the MUA National office and branches donated $35,000; DP World and Patrickcommittees at Port Botany pledged $15,000 each from their rolling funds andmembers were contributing an initial levy of $100 per person.

The Sydney branch has called on all members to contribute a $100 levy, while the DP WorldFremantle site committee rolling fund had committed $5,000.
Donations from individual members stand at more than $15,000. Members onthe vessels Finnmarken, Lewek Aries and Alexander Spirit collected large donations and Karratha members were contributing a day's pay which Patrick's had agreed to match dollar for dollar.  

Members and staff at Sydney ferries were donating a day's annual leave, which shouldcome to about $120,000.
DP World Melbourne had established a $50 levy and management was matching thisdollar for dollar.

DP World Brisbane members were also putting on a levy with management agreeing to match it, and the Mackay/Hay Point tug members had also raised $4,000.
Internationally the appeal was being publicised on the ITF, RMT, MUNZ and ILWU websiteswith all contributing.

Other ACTU affiliates have raised more than $400,000.

Donations are being directed through the MUA Relief Fund and other Relief Funds as determined by the members concerned.