Australia’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ordered talks over the next two days over the future of the product tanker Tandara Spirit, according to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
The fuel tanker, owned by Teekay and operated by Viva Energy Australia sits idle in Melbourne for 5 days as the crew protests over the company’s decision to remove the vessel from the trade.
MUA said that Commissioner Cambridge concurrently heard the company’s application for Orders that the MUA no longer participate in unprotected industrial action, “by allegedly refusing to refuel the vessel to prevent it from leaving Australian waters – a move that the Union fears would result in the termination of the jobs of the entire crew in the process.”
Commissioner Cambridge knocked back the company’s Section 418 application, instead ordering the companies, Teekay and Viva, and the MUA into talks over the next two days, MUA added.
MUA said earlier this week that it was taking multi-billion dollar Swiss energy company Vitol to FWC over its alleged decision to fire the MUA members working on board the product tanker Tandara Spirit.
However, in a statement emailed to World Maritime News, Viva Energy Australia denied the MUA’s claims, saying that “Viva Energy is an independent and locally managed business,” and that ”any reference to Vitol’s involvement in the matter is incorrect.”
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said: “After five days of the ship not taking bunkers and refusing to sail the FWC refused to give 418 orders, instead ordering talks. The vessel will be prevented by our actions from sailing for seven days on Thursday. The company also had to agree that no one was left stranded in Singapore.”
“Yet to the shock of the 36 seafarers who work on the vessel a plan of stealth was hatched by the company whereby it would leave Australia in two days and dump the Australian crew, unemployed, in Singapore,” MUA added.
Mr Smith said the talks would focus on protecting Australian shipping jobs.
“Due to moving towards higher levels of Victorian land-based fuel supply from the Geelong terminal, Viva are saying they are getting out of shipping and the vessel must go back to the charterers,” Mr Smith said.
“We are seeking a replacement with whatever size tanker, possibly a handy-sized tanker, and have demonstrated to Viva that we have some viable options for a coastal trading tanker. One thing that we will be demanding is that any fuel that goes across the wharf from the Geelong refinery will be carried in Australian general licensed ships where they are available.”
World Maritime News Staff