Honest, Australian jobs should not be replaced with exploited $2/hour workers.
Australia’s fuel security and natural environment should not be put at risk.
A political protest rally took place yesterday in support of the Australian crew of the Tandara Spirit, who are being replaced by foreign crew on as little as $2 an hour.
The Tandara Spirit crew staged a sit in for nearly three weeks in Port Phillip Bay, before being threatened with destructive legal action by the vessel’s owner, Viva Energy.
Viva is listed with ASIC as ‘Vitol Investment Partnership Limited’, which is registered in the financial secrecy haven of Jersey. Vitol is a private $300 billion oil trading company that bought Shell's downstream business in Australia for $2.9 billion earlier this year.
According to The Independent newspaper in Britain: Vitol are reportedly significant tax avoiders in the UK.
The Tandara Spirit crew had a long-running contract to move fuel between the Shell refinery in Geelong to Adelaide but are now being replaced by foreign crew on as little as $2 an hour following Viva’s purchase of Shell’s downstream assets
MUA Victorian Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken said it was vital for the community to draw a line in the sand.
“The crew of the Tandara Spirit are decent, honest, hardworking Australians,” Mr Bracken said.
“They just want to feed their kids, pay their mortgages, and work under Australian conditions. Instead, their employer, Viva Energy, wants to sack them and replace them with foreign crew on $2 an hour.”
Mr Bracken pointed out that ships Viva have chartered into the Geelong refinery to replace the Tandara Spirit, have included three ships that have been detained at least once.
Observations have included:
• a Vietnamese ship with crew paid less than $2 per hour;
• a United Arab Emirates-owned ship which appears to be violating the conditions of the Temporary Licence issued to the ship under the Coastal Trading Act in order to evade their responsibilities under the Fair Work Act;
• a tanker that recently ran aground in Estonia being used as a storage tank for up to 100,000 tons of fuel in Port Phillip Bay.
“How can we allow Australian workers to be undermined by this disgraceful employer behaviour?” Mr Bracken.
“How can we allow our fuel security to be placed in the hands of such unscrupulous operators? How can we entrust our precious marine environment to operators with a long record of acting like cowboys?
“The Abbott Government has allowed our fuel security to be placed in the hands of foreign-owned companies who evidently have no regard for Australian workers or Australian interests.
“We need to get out there and show the federal government this is a bridge too far and that we, as a community, will not accept it.
“Without a national fuel security plan, the long-term running of the Geelong refinery cannot be guaranteed. It’s time the Abbott Government acted on this important issue which not only has implications for fuel security but also national security and environmental safety as well.”