Offshore Figs Floating Sweatshops

MUA/AWU Offshore Alliance exposes Danish multinational trafficking Filipino workers into Australia.

Filipino workers are being trafficked into Australia to work on the North West Gas Shelf off Western Australia.

Paddy Crumlin ITF President and National Secretary of the MUA said "This is disgraceful behaviour by Maersk. The ITF affiliates around the world have entered into an international agreement to respect international and national labour standards with the company in its shipping stevedoring hydrocarbon and freight forwarding activities. This is a clear breach and potentially puts the agreement at risk, the results of that would be catastrophic to the company's international reputation and relationships with the ITF."

Mr Crumlin said there was a meeting of the powerful International Transport Workers Federation coming up in April and the actions of the company in Australia would "be first cab off the rank".

Paul Howes, National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union said yesterday the workers were paid near slave labour rates by the Danish multinational.

"Some of these workers earning less than $3 per hour, compared with our members on the same vessel who are earning average annual salaries of $132,000," he said. "Teenage McDonald's workers would be paid more than these Filipino gas field workers."

"They've been brought in from the Phillipines - under what seems very dodgy arrangements -because of their particular skills, working originally on the Maersk shipping company's Nan-Hai VI, and now working on the Maersk Discover."

Concerns about mistreatment of workers whose passports not stamped as being in Australia.

"Our union delegates have checked carefully and seen the passports of these workers. They were shocked to see these workers do not have their presence in Australia stamped into the passports, even though they come in and out of Australian waters."

" They are being trafficked. If they don't exist as far as Australian passport authorities are concerned it is extremely easy to mistreat them."

The AWU-MUA Offshore Alliance was given clear promises by the Federal Government that the misuse of Howard era 456 Visas - meant to be used for short-term visits by business people - would not be used again to bring in guest workers who could not be covered by Australian work laws.

 The AWU-MUA Offshore Alliance was approached by the Filipino workers - many of whom are scared of retribution against them and their families back in the Phillipines - asking the union to protect them, and provide them with support.

" AWU-MUA Offshore Alliance members are angered by the treatment meted out to these workers. They've begun giving their Filipino work mates small amounts of money to afford basic luxuries," Paul Howes said.

These workers were hired as if they were working in Manila not Australia, by a company in Makati City in the Phillippines, specialising in finding skilled workers for oil fields and the maritime industry. The contract they signed indicated they were employed by a Hong Kong based firm called Pocomwell Limited.

Offshore Alliance exposes Danish multinational trafficking ...
Australian Workers' Union