The MUA has had a win at the Fair Work Commission, with talks ordered over the next two days over the future of the product tanker Tandara Spirit.
The MUA took the multi-billion dollar Swiss energy company Vitol to FWC over a lack of consultation in its decision to sack members working on board Tandara Spirit and leave them stranded in Singapore.
Commissioner Cambridge concurrently heard the company’s application for Orders that the MUA no longer participate in unprotected industrial action, by allegedly refusing to refuel the vessel to prevent it from leaving Australian waters - a move that the Union fears would result in the termination of the jobs of the entire crew in the process.
Commissioner Cambridge knocked back the company’s Section 418 application, instead ordering the companies, Teekay and Viva, and the MUA into talks over the next two days.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said: “The Tandara Spirit has been in dispute and has not sailed from Port Phillip Bay for 5 days after a significant protest by the crew over the company’s decision to remove the vessel from the trade.
“After five days of the ship not taking bunkers and refusing to sail the FWC refused to give 418 orders, instead ordering talks.
“The vessel will be prevented by our actions from sailing for seven days on Thursday.
“The company also had to agree that no one was left stranded in Singapore.”
Vitol - which trades locally as Viva Energy - is a private $300 billion oil trading company that bought Shell's downstream business in Australia for $2.9 billion three months ago.
The union was informed by Teekay last week that Vitol will “hand back the Tandara Spirit in January 2015” yet to the shock of the 36 seafarers who work on the vessel a plan of stealth was hatched by the company whereby it would leave Australia in two days and dump the Australian crew, unemployed, in Singapore.
There is also an MOU between the MUA and Shell, which is being ignored.
Mr Smith said the talks would focus on protecting Australian shipping jobs.
“Due to moving towards higher levels of Victorian land-based fuel supply from the Geelong terminal, Viva are saying they are getting out of shipping and the vessel must go back to the charterers,” Mr Smith said.
“We are seeking a replacement with whatever size tanker, possibly a handy-sized tanker, and have demonstrated to Viva that we have some viable options for a coastal trading tanker.”
“One thing that we will be demanding is that any fuel that goes across the wharf from the Geelong refinery will be carried in Australian general licensed ships where they are available.”