||Issue No. 133||26 April 2002|
The Struggle Continues
Interview: If The Commission Pleases
History: Protest and Celebrate
Unions: A Novel Approach
Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
International: Never Forget Jenin
Politics: Left Right Out In France
Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Poetry: May Day, May Day
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Gold Star Student
Time for a General Strike?
Court Decision Threatens Thousands Of Jobs
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin is addressing the International Transport Workers Federation executive in London where he will seek backing for the MUA position on flags of convenience.
"We are considering all our options, legal and international," assistant secretary Mick Doleman responded to the Federal Court's rejection of an application which would have prevented CSL selling the Yarra and bringing it back to Australia with a foreign flag and crew.
The union sought its application under freedom of association provisions of the Workplace Relations Act, arguing Australian workers were being sacked because of MUA membership.
Federal Court judge Catherine Branson ruled that union membership was not the reason for CSL's conduct.
"It's outrageous for the Federal Government to openly encourage foreign shipowners to harm this country's workers, industry and economy," Doleman said.
"This Government wants to turn the Australian shipping industry into a sweatshop. It is forcing Australians to compete against the cheapest labour available in the world."
Federal Transport Minister John Anderson has to permit foreign flagged vessels to work the Australian coast. Since he became minister he has overseen a tripling of ships using foreign crews on Australian routes.
Unions have raised environmental and security concerns about the practise, as well as their core wage and conditions objections.
Flags of convenience countries run regimes similar to Swiss banking, seducing dubious owners with secrecy guarantees that are hard for international law agencies to crack.
Only about 45 Australian flagged and crewed vessels remain in business.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet says the decision demonstrates that current laws are inadequate to protect Australian jobs and prevent Australian workers from being replaced by foreigners on lower wages and conditions.
"The Federal Government could fix this problem with the stroke of a pen. If John Howard is serious about protecting Australia's borders, then he should act now to save Australian jobs," Combet says.
"These ships destroy Australian jobs and don't pay Australian taxes. Ships doing the right thing and operating with Australian crews under the Australian flag simply can't compete."
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