Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has officially opened the union’s national council in Sydney.
Lead agenda items were offshore visas, the Trade Union Royal Commission, shipping reform, automation and the creation of the Maritime International Federation (MIF).
On the royal commission, Crumlin paid tribute to MUA WA Branch Secretary Christy Cain’s stellar performance on the stand.
Training provider METL was the principal focus of the Royal Commission's hearing into the MUA a fortnight ago.
The Commission heard from multiple industry witnesses that METL was well governed, played a valuable role in training Australians for maritime jobs and spent all of the money it raised on education and training.
METL is an independent not-for-profit company, with a constitution that prevents it issuing shares.
It is owned by nobody.
Further, its constitution requires it to have an equal number of members and Board members drawn from industry, as those drawn from the MUA.
This means industry has an equal say over how the funds are spent, as the MUA.
It is worth noting that neither the industry nor union Board members receive Directors' fees.
The commission was told that employers had agreed to contribute to METL.
“It became very year form the first 10 mins we shouldn’t have been there,” Crumlin said.
“Counsel Assisting the Commission Jeremy Stoljar gave METL a clean bill of heath."
Crumlin said the Abbott Government is deliberately disenfranchising working men and women through the royal commission.
“They’re taking power away from working men and women but giving it to Chevron – who don’t give a stuff about Australian workers and their families,” Mr Crumlin said.
“They’ve picked a fight with us and we’ll see it through … and if Chevron want to be a co-operative partner we’ll do it, if they don’t, we’ll still be there."
“The Abbott Government is engaged in social engineering by trying to kill of manufacturing for no other reason that it is unionised.
“We have completely unnatural economics right now – the US exchange rate was $1.08 with zero interest rates, now it’s down to 88 cents.
“What the Abbott Government wants is a manufacturing industry with guest labour and weak unions."
Crumlin said this was an important backdrop to the MUA’s elections next year.
“We will do our best to insulate our members and open up the opportunities that they deserve,” he said.
Crumlin has just returned from Kupang, where Indonesia’s Seafarer Union, Kesatuan Pelaut Indonsia (KPI) last week agreed to enter the Maritime International Federation (MIF) – formerly known as the Regional Maritime Federation.
In addition to KPI, the MIF consists of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and Papua New Guinea Maritime and Transport Worker’s Union (PNGTWU) and has the potential to include the East Timorese union, SMETL and other unions in the Asia Pacific region.
The Maritime International Federation aims to bring together unions with similar intentions in order to secure jobs for local maritime workers to ensure wealth created in the region is benefiting local communities. It is scheduled to begin operation in July next year.
Crumlin welcomed special guests Joe Fleetwood and Garry Parsloe from MUNZ, Reg McAlister and Alex Rawali from PNGTWU and Hanafi Rustandi from KPI.
Crumlin said the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) was integral to the MIF, singling out Mark Davis as vitally important to delivering the officer unions in New Zealand and Australia.
For all of the pictures, see here.