Remote Communities Held to Ransom by Big Business

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities face paying more for essential coastal shipping services by a big business deal already knocked back by the competition watchdog.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) claims remote communities could be held to ransom by Sea Swift and Toll Marine Logistics (TML).

Sea Swift is pushing ahead with its proposed buy-out of Toll’s Northern Territory and Far North Queensland services.

That’s despite the takeover being rejected by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on July 9.

Sea Swift now plans to take its buy out bid to the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT).

Thomas Mayor, MUA Northern Territory Branch Secretary, said the MUA has long argued the sale would be detrimental to remote communities serviced by Toll.

“These big companies have been told by the ACCC ‘no’ but Toll is now threatening to withdraw its services if the acquisition does not proceed,” Mr Mayor said.

Toll will get a 20% shareholding of Sea Swift should the deal go through.

“Toll and Sea Swift are trying to jump into bed with each other, all but creating a monopoly that could hold local communities to ransom.”

“This will also hurt more than 100 Toll workers, some who have been with the company for decades. This is effectively constructive dismissal.”

The MUA negotiated a new agreement with Toll Marine in 2014 to provide training and ongoing employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Sea Swift has an agreement that is in dispute with the MUA because maritime workers’ wages and conditions are far inferior to industry standards.”

“The MUA believes that Sea Swift has been untrustworthy in bargaining with its workforce represented by the MUA.”

“When we requested a training and employment deal for Torres Strait Islander and other Indigenous workers in the Top End, Sea Swift lied about what they were doing.”

“The company flatly refused to put a commitment in the enterprise agreement.”