ITF President Paddy Crumlin said: “The ITF and international unions continue to show their solidarity with the workers on the front line at Portland because if it can happen to them it can happen to any of us.
The company is trying to circumvent Australia’s cabotage laws and shift to foreign vessels, many of them Flags of Convenience (FOC’s) using exploited workers on as little as $2/hr.
The conservative Australian government issued a so-called temporary licence to allow this to happen despite MV Portland being able to continue to carry this cargo.
The vessel moved to anchor late last week while the UK-registered P&O cruise ship Pacific Jewel was in Portland and another cruise ship, the Pacific Eden is due tomorrow.
The vessel is currently at the smelter berth, which is not the one used by cruise ships.
The crew is still being told to sail the ship to Singapore but has been unable to sail due to unsafe manning.
The MV Portland was able move to anchor while the Pacific Jewel was in Portland because of a temporary safe manning certificate issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
However the certificate does not permit the vessel to sail to Singapore without the safe manning required by the relevant legislation and regulations.
Those aboard the Pacific Jewel showed their solidarity with the sacked MV Portland crew by attending the community assembly at the SL Patterson Berth.
More than 400 signatures for this petition were obtained from a mix of cruise ship crew and passengers, who voiced their support for local jobs.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) boarded the Pacific Jewel soon after it berthed in the South-West Victorian town and spoke to the workers on board.
Many crewmembers were already aware of the ongoing dispute between the MV Portland crew and Alcoa.
They were very supportive of the endeavours of the MV Portland crew, as they understood that this kind of mistreatment could potentially effect their own job security.
This was backed up by a strong letter of support and public statements from Nautilus International General Secretary Mark Dickinson, who is based in Great Britain.
“We have been closely following the developments arising from the move by Alcoa to use a foreign-crewed ship in place of theMV Portland,” Mr Dickinson said.
“Nautilus pays tribute to the high level of cooperation displayed by the MV Portland’s crew in working around the dispute to facilitate the visit of the Pacific Jewel into the port of Portland.
“The issues surrounding this case have immense resonance on this side of the world, as we have witnessed a long-term decline of our coastal shipping fleet as a consequence of the ‘open coast’ policies pursued by governments and the failure of measures to support our national shipping.
“We support the campaign to uphold safety and security in Australian waters by opposing the increased use of often substandard and low-cost flag-of-convenience shipping.”
At the community assembly, passengers spoke to crew and supporters about the dispute and were sympathetic to the plight of the Australian workers on board.