Put the Liberals Last: Because That’s Where They’ve Put Maritime Workers

The union has endured some of the worst attacks it has ever faced since 1872 at the hands of the dysfunctional Abbott – Turnbull Government.

Workers can’t afford another term of a Liberal National Coalition, regardless of the leader.

In shipping, tankers have disappeared because of a lack of action by the Government on fuel security. This is despite a report from the NRMA and a Senate Inquiry highlighting the dangers of not having a proper fuel security policy, which could leave Australia vulnerable during times of direct and regional conflict. 

Australia has less than approximately a fortnight’s worth of fuel in reserves, a disruption to supply would see Australia grind to a halt, National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“A lack of fuel security raises fundamental questions of national security and sovereign risk for some of Australia’s biggest industries, let alone our food supply and our motorists’ right to expect a constant supply of fuel at a reasonable price,” Crumlin said.

“Australia is more reliant than ever before on shipping for its fuel security yet companies are shifting to use international-flag, international-owned, international-managed and international-crewed ships with demonstrably poorer safety records than Australian-crewed and managed tankers.”

“Australian companies and the Australian Government do not have the capacity to take control of and re-direct these tankers in the event of a fuel emergency.

“The use of the spot-market to charter tankers contributes to the persistently high rates of deficiencies and detentions of tankers by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority as it leads to a very high turnover of tankers used for imports to this country.” 

It was not just tankers either, the MV Portland and the the CSL Melbourne have been ripped from their trade and replaced by Flag-of-Convenience vessels with their cheap, exploited crews and the Government is directly complicit in their issuing of Temporary Licences to mining giants in Alcoa and Rio Tinto respectively.

This was done despite the Senate voting down Abbott and Turnbull’s attempts to deregulate the already shaky industry completely

“The Senate voted in late November to oppose the Government’s attempt to change the relevant legislation and retain Cabotage laws because Labor, Greens and the crossbench are not prepared to send Aussie jobs offshore and open up a domestic transport mode to the security risk of unchecked foreign crews,” he said.

“Sensible Senators know that we shouldn’t be promoting Flag-of-Convenience shipping, which is essentially a tax avoidance scam by registering your vessel in Liberia or Mongolia and then paying your workers as little as possible – if you pay them at all.”

Shipping companies have been playing the tax avoidance game for years and it was now coming to the fore, through a Senate Inquiry headed by the ALP’s Sam Dastyari, that many companies were using tricky measures and loopholes to minimise their tax payments to Australia.

Most notably, one of the MUA’s biggest foes – Chevron – was ousted for paying very little tax in Australia and was referred to by Senator Dastyari as the ‘Godfather of tax avoidance’ and in 2014 did not pay a single cent in tax.

Not long after its election in 2013 the then Assistant Minister for Immigration and current Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash, used a spurious ‘legislative instrument’ to allow companies to use foreign labour that are not subject to Australian employment, safety, or wage laws.

As a result, the union has had to run an expensive and protracted legal case against the Government.

Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey said the union could withdraw from the case if the Shorten Labor Government won the Federal Election.

“Every move the Abbott - Turnbull Liberal Government has made in the last three years has been about undermining the impact of the previous Labor Government’s Offshore laws from four years ago that protected the jobs of Australian seafarers in the Australian offshore oil and gas industry,” Tracey said.

“It is one of the critical reasons why this Union, your Union, has been campaigning so hard in this Federal Election Campaign currently underway to throw out the Turnbull Liberal Government.

“We throw out Turnbull and we throw out his attempts to remove Australian offshore workers from the Australian offshore industry.”

On tugboats, partnership agreements have spread like wildfire in a blatant attempt to de-unionise the towage sector by the resource sector and the Turnbull Government is no where to be seen.

On the wharves workers were sacked by text and sham contracting arrangements were now being pushed right up under the hook to replace long-term, stable and good paying jobs with cheaper temporary contract labour.

During the Hutchison dispute, the one which saw the MUA even elicit some form of sympathy from the Murdoch press, the Liberals used the opportunity to call the sacked workers thugs, despite the fact it was the workers were being stood over by security guards in balaclavas, in a scene reminiscent of 1998. 

Port Authority workers across the country are seeing their job security disappear through the Liberal Government agenda of port privatisation.

Manufacturing has been decimated through the Government’s deliberate goading of the car and other industries.

Wages growth is at an all time low, yet the Government and its puppet masters from business peak bodies bemoan minimum wage and penalty rates.

If the Liberal Nationals get re elected they would see it as a mandate to further attack our way of life through healthcare cuts and changes to Medicare, through $100,000 university degrees, through slashing penalty rates and through reinstating the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). 

It’s time to make a change, to Build a Better Future.

It’s important members get out there and spread the word and most importantly, on July 2 workers of Australia should put the Liberals last.