The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) are calling for the suspension of an anti-cabotage licence granted to American aluminium corporation Alcoa, following bribery allegations against the company.
Namely, ITF inspectors have found papers which appear to document a number of bribes paid to a shipping inspector and drug enforcement and immigration authorities by the captain of the foreign flagged vessel that has started to operate as the replacement ship for MV Portland.
The new ship is crewed by non-Australian residents being paid as little as $2-an-hour. Furthermore that ship is exempt from all Australian taxation, workplace regulation and security requirements applicable to the MV Portland and its crew.
“What has been uncovered suggests a model of bribery and underhand dealings with this ship. That’s not something we’d accept in the US and we’re appalled that this type of behaviour still happens in global shipping.
“The federal government of Australia needs to take action now to suspend the cabotage-busting licence Alcoa has been granted and there must be a thorough and extensive investigation. Nothing less will do,” said Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ section Dave Heindel.
According to MUA, for the past three weeks, the 19 crew onboard the MV Portland have not sailed the ship to Singapore because they were informed they would be forced to make way for a replacement ‘Flag of Convenience’ vessel.
Federal Court proceedings on the case have ultimately determined that the crew on board are in breach of Australia’s Fair Work Act. As of 8 December 2015 both MUA and the crew are now subject to a Federal Court Injunction, the MUA claims.
What is more, the crew has refused to sail the vessel due to imminent Health and Safety concerns and are now potentially subject to contempt orders.