|Issue No 78||17 November 2000|
Big Australian Blamed As Ships of Shame Toll Rises
BHP has been condemned for chartering the low-cost Maltese-registered ships with a history of safety lapses in which two Filipino perished in an engine room fir off Port Hedland this week.
While media attention has focused on the grounding of a Malaysian vessel on the Barrier Reef, Andrew Williamson from the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE) says the tragedy on the XL could have been avoided.
Williamson says BHP management chartered the ship to transport iron ore from its Mt Newman mine, despite the poor safety record of the XL, which was detained in Rotterdam in February this year and in Australia in 1998.
"Legally it must be said BHP management owed the grieving relatives of these seaman nothing," Williamson says.
"But Paul Anderson and his chief financial officer Chip Goodyear should exercise some of their stock options in favour fo the families as a matter of moral duty and obligation."
Mounting Toll Condemned Globally
Three ships of shame , five people burnt to death and priceless damage to our world heritage reef -- this is how the International Transport Workers' Federation and its Australian affiliate the Maritime Union of Australia sum up the three maritime disasters on the Australian coast in as many days.
"We've got two seafarers incinerated off the west coast, another three burnt to death off the east coast and a third ship that's had to be blasted off our world heritage reef," National Secretary John Coombs says.
"This is no coincidence. This is no accident. It's all down to federal government shipping policy," Coombs says.
"World shipping is dominated by brutal, environmentally irresponsible flags of convenience. We've had three parliamentary inquiries expose how these cut throat operators have absolute disregard for human life, much less that of our marine environment.
"Yet this government is still deregulating, even permitting these ships into our coastal trade. We need tighter restrictions, greater vigilance. How many more people have to die, how much more damage has to be done to our marine parks, how much more pollution to our coastal waters, before the government is prepared to act?"
At the same time the Malaysian flagged Bunga Teratai Satu was being blasted off the reef, surviving crew are imprisoned on board the Greek owned Maltese flag of convenience vessel XL, after a fire that killed two of their workmates and three more seafarers have perished in an explosion on the Singapore flagged, Norwegian managed container ship Kota Wirawan.
"It's bordering on racism," says Trevor Charles, International Transport Workers Federation, Australia. "The seamen on the burnt out freighter XL must be suffering incredible trauma. We want to help, the church and the community want to help, but the ship owner won't even let us on board."
Interview: Doubly Blessed
With that unforgettable name, Grace Grace is making her mark as the first female secretary of the Queensland trade union movement.
Unions: On The Line
Trade unions this week entered a landmark partnership with the call centre industry to improve the quality jobs in this growing sector.
History: Conspiracy or Class? The Whitlam Sacking
Never trust a man who wears a top hat and tails in Australia, in Summer. Neale Towart considers this and other evidence of conspiracy in the great shonky dismissal.
Legal: Return Of The Lock-out
Marian Baird reports on the increasing tendency of aggressive employers to use lock-outs to reduce wages and conditions and promote individual agreements.
Activists: Waterfront Hero Bows Out
John Coombs, the man the government compared to Ned Kelly - villain to the bosses, the big land owners and conservatives, folk hero to working Australians - bows out of the union movement next month.
International: Morocco Stonewalls In Western Sahara
Morocco has new king but its old game plan of defying world opinion over its occupation of the Western Sahara continues.
Review: The Identity-Shifting Pragmatist
If New Zealand should have an Australian as its first Labour Prime Minister, then it is only fitting that Australia should have as its first a man who spent much of his formative years across the ditch.
Satire: Hackers Infect Microsoft Computers With Mysterious Windows Virus
SEATTLE, Thursday: Shame-faced workers at Microsoft admitted today that hackers had succeeded in penetrating their network's defences and had installed a sophisticated virus on the Apple Macintosh machines used across the software giant's operations.
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