The Turnbull Government agency is seeking $10,800 fines for nine workers from the Alcoa ship MV Portland who were refusing to sail the ship to Singapore following the announcement on their replacement with a foreign and cheaper crew, Australian unions said.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) have questioned the political motivations of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) after the announcement as the said workers were “woken up at 1am, marched out of their workplace and dumped on the Portland, Victoria, wharf in January 2016.”
Five of the nine workers charged were removed from the ship MV Portland after having been previously told by Alcoa that they were to sail the vessel to Singapore in order to be sacked, despite the fact the vessel had worked the Australian coast for 27 years.
As informed by the unions, none of the workers have been able to find stable employment since the Turnbull Government issued Alcoa with a so-called Temporary License, which was renewed late last year.
The unions added that according to documents leaked to the media before the workers were told, the FWO is seeking:
Penalties against nine crew members for $10,800 each
Penalties against the union of $54,000
Compensation of $500,000 to be paid by the MUA to Alcoa
“It is a national disgrace that a Turnbull Government agency is trying to prosecute workers for standing up for their jobs,” says ACTU President Ged Kearney.
“There should be an inquiry into the political use of the Fair Work Ombudsman by the Turnbull Government because there appears to be a conspiracy against these workers.”
“These hardworking Australian seafarers have been replaced by Flag-of-Convenience shipping which pays exploited foreign workers as little as $2 and hour and registers ships in places like Liberia, Mongolia and Panama as part of one of the biggest tax avoidance scams on the planet,” said MUA National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin.
“One of the replacement vessels for the MV Portland even got busted paying bribes in Nigeria and Argentina.”
The MUA also noted that the same employer has since received $230 million in subsidies to continue the Portland smelter yet “still runs Flag-of-Convenience ships with exploited foreign crews on the run that had been serviced by the MV Portland for 27 years prior.”