|Issue No 47||24 March 2000|
Another Rustbucket On Our Coast
By Zoe Reynolds
Waterside workers in Burnie stopped work on the Cypriot flag of convenience Nicolas Star this week after uncovering rusted lashing chains and weevil infested food.
MUA Tasmania branch secretary and local representative for the International Transport Workers' Federation Mike Wickham said the vessel was the worst he'd ever seen
"It should never be allowed to sail," he said. "The conditions the crew survived in are not fit for a dog. The galley is a filthy disgrace, it's a pig sty. The Filipino crew have been eating stores that are full of weevils, the rice is literally infested with it."
Burnie wharfies were loading logs bound for Korea onto the ship on Wednesday when the alarm was raised and the men walked off the job.
Mike Wickham called the Australian Maritime Safety Authority inspector in and the ship was inspected and repairs ordered.
The ITF is also representing the Filipino crew in a pay dispute. The crew have now won US$9,5000 in outstanding wages.
Mike Wickham accused the Federal Government of creating "an environment of piracy on the high seas" by promoting cheap, substandard, flag of convenience shipping at the expense of Australian shipping.
"Under this Government the policy has been to welcome this type of ship in every day," Mike Wickham told the local press. "This is the first of many in an environment of piracy on the high seas that this Government has created."
The Australian trading fleet is being driven out of business as the Howard Government sides with shippers and exporters in driving down freight rates by allowing third rate vessels, crewed by third world nationals, to carry Australian cargo -- even our domestic coastal cargo.
The policy is expected to impact on the nation's inland transport system in the long term. Substandard shipping is also responsible for the majority of the world's maritime disasters, oil spills and pollution.
Meanwhile the Nicolas Star is expected to be held in port all next week. MUA - Tasmanian
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