||Issue No. 190||08 August 2003|
Interview: The New Deal
Unions: In the Line of Hire
Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
International: The Domino Effect
Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Poetry: Just Move On.
Review: Reality Bites
The Locker Room
The Fifth Column
Legal Missile Holes Ships of Shame
MUA secretary, Paddy Crumlin, raised the prospect when he said the unanimous High Court decision, bringing Bahamas-flagged CSL vessels Stadacona and Yarra under AIRC jurisdiction, could be extended into other crucial areas.
"We couldn't have written the decision better ourselves," Crumlin said. "The High Court has gone a lot further than the Commission decision being contested by the company and the Federal Government.
"The High Court has ruled that ships trading in Australia are subject to Australian law, even those on international voyages.
"We now have jurisdiction over labour and the door is open to seek jurisdiction over other areas."
Crumlin said Australian occupational health and safety, superannuation and workers compensation regimes would be natural flow-ons from yesterday's decision.
If the principle of Australian jurisdiction holds, there will also be problems with special permits issued by Transport Minister, John Anderson, to allow foreign-registered shippers to circumvent immigration procedures.
At that point, Crumlin says, most of the advantages of Flag of Convenience traders - cheap labour and non-compliance with domestic rules and regulations - will have been lost.
"Is someone going to persevere with employing foreign crews in that situation?" he asked.
Yesterday, the High Court ruled that irrespective of flag, crew nationality, or which country a shipping company is based in, ships engaged on Australia's coastal trade are subject to AIRC jurisdiction.
The battle over the flagging out of CSL vessels has raged since the Australian crew of the Yarra barricaded themselves on board the bulk carrier at Port Pirie, last May.
Somewhat apologetically, the employer said Government support for flag of convenience shipping had left it with no alternative but to dump Australian seamen, replace them with cut-rate Ukrainians, and move registration off-shore.
Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, and Transport Minister Anderson both backed the Canadian ship owners.
Since their Government came to office in 1996 and began issuing permits to foreign operators, the number of Australian vessels on the coastal trade has plummeted from 90 to less than 50.
Maritime Unions sought to rope the Stadacona and Yarra into Australian labour jurisdiction in the AIRC. They won their case last September but CSL, supported by the Federal Government, appealed to the High Court.
MUA lawyer Bill McNally said employment law, relating to foreign ships on the Australian coast, had been settled "once and for all" by the High Court.
"The extraordinary thing is that the Australian Government chose to support foreign ship owners over Australian workers," McNally said.
Crumlin called on the Transport Minister and senior departmental officials to rethink their maritime policy in light of the High Court ruling.
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