Hundreds of unionists and supporters hit the streets of Devonport today in solidarity with the 36 crew members of the fuel tanker the Alexander Spirit, who are soon to be made redundant.
Last week the workers aboard the Caltex-owned ship were told their upcoming voyage to Singapore would be their last as they had been replaced by a foreign crew.
Following the decision, the Australian workers refused to depart from Devonport until they got more information about their redundancy entitlements.
A number of high profile supporters joined the crew and the Devonport community, including; Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, ACTU President Ged Kearney, ALP Senator Anne Urquhart, Tasmanian Opposition Leader Bryan Green, Bass ALP Candidate Justine Keay and MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray.
Bray said Caltex was misleading the Australian public by insisting that there was not enough trade to sustain the Australian-crewed Alexander Spirit.
“I would love for Caltex to explain why the Liberian-flagged Stolt Kikyo is alongside in Geelong and what trip Caltex has planned for that vessel they have brought in to replace the Alexander Spirit,” he said.
“Why haven’t the soon-to-be redundant crew from the Alexander Spirit crew been offered replacement jobs on the vessel?”
“Why is the Government allowing Caltex to run roughshod over the intent of Cabotage laws by allowing this replacement vessel to do what was, up until today, the Alexander Spirit run?”
“The fact the Abbott Government is intent on passing legislation that they know will have an impact on local jobs shows how little regard they have for Australian workers,” ACTU President Ged Kearney said.
“The seafarers aboard the Alexander Spirit are the latest in the litany of workers being thrown on the scrapheap as a result of bad Government decisions.”
According to Tasmanian Labor Leader Bryan Green, the claim that replacing of Australian crew with a cheaper foreign one, which are paid less than $2 per hour, cannot be excused with cost-cutting, as the cost per litre of fuel to maintain an Australian seafarer instead of a foreign one “is miniscule, it wouldn’t even register at the petrol pump.”
“Local petrol prices, which are some of the highest in the country, have barely shifted in the past year despite global oil prices being the lowest in more than six years, so forgive me if I am cynical about Caltex’s reasoning behind their decision.”
He urged Caltex to reconsider, calling on the State and Federal Government “to stop their attacks on Australian workers.”