Unions Call On PM To Protect Rights Of Refugees

Maritime Union joins key unions in calling on PM to uphold Australia's international obligations to protect the rights of refugees


 The Maritime Union has joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Apheda, education, nursing, rail, media, plumbing, finance, textile and other unions calling on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to honour Australia's international obligations to protect the rights of those most vulnerable in our global community. 

The letter which has been also distributed to all members of parliament warns governments should not exploit fear and xenophobia through the dehumanisation of refugees.

It is also critical of the Rudd Government recent policy change to suspend the processing of all new asylum claims by Afghan and Sri Lankan nationals.

"In devising this approach to deter "boat people", the Government has successfully alienated thousands of people seeking refuge from persecution, and forsaken Australia's "fair-go" spirit," the letter signed by Paddy Crumlin warns. 

The unions also condemn the reopening of the isolated Curtin detention facility in Western Australia and using refugees as pawns in an election game.

"Australia is failing in its obligations as a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1976 Protocol to not discriminate in the treatment of refugees on the basis of race, religion or country of origin (Article 3)," the 20 unions and organisations state.


MEANWHILE the national secretary has written to delegates of the Oceanic Viking and Front Puffin personally congratulating them on their  “bravery, courage and compassion” in assisting the rescue of refugees off Ashmore Reef in April, 09/Indonesia, October, 09.

The delegates won a special commendation at the ACTU union awards last week.

"I personally asked that you, as Australian seafarers, be nominated to the ACTU for the annual union awards in recognition of the extraordinary and important work you perform beyond the call of duty as Australian seafarers in this the IMO Year of the Seafarer," Paddy Crumlin wrote.  

"Again, comrades, congratulations for helping Australian seafarers get the recognition and honour we all so well deserve for the job we do," he wrote.

The crew of the FPSO Front Puffin, whose harrowing personal stories about the rescue of 34 critically injured refugees off Ashmore Reef on April 16 was the cover story of the Maritime Workers' Journal, and also featured in the Australian in July 

("Day Crewmen united to save ravaged souls, The Australian, p2)

The contribution of the Oceanic VIking crew to the rescue of refugees off Indonesia and the Mining and Maritime donation of $10,000 to the refugees also won national media coverage

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The Age - Melbourne,Victoria,Australia