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Issue #1793      September 6, 2017

MUA raises the plight of seafarers

The Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch rallied outside the electoral office of Malcolm Turnbull on August 22 to raise the plight of seafarers and remind the Prime Minister to dramatically lift his game.

Turnbull has been under significant pressure in recent times due to his championing of the divisive postal plebiscite on same sex marriage while a string of government MPs and Senators are being investigated by the High Court for possible breaches of Section 44 of the Constitution.

Around 250 protesters including MUA members, nurses, constructed workers, teachers, social workers and community activists rallied to voice their disquiet over the current mess presided over by the Member for Wentworth.

The Hugli Spirit, the Tandara Spirit, the Alexandria Spirit, the British Fidelity, the British Loyalty, the CSL Melbourne, the MV Portland, the CSL Brisbane, the CSL Thevenard – are the vessels that have “sailed over the horizon” while Turnbull has been prime minister.

The crowd included unemployed seafarers and members from Sydney, Port Kembla and Newcastle who chanted: “The workers’ united will never be defeated.”

MUA rank-and-file member Dan Crumlin spoke about the personal cost of being an unemployed seafarer.

“Two years ago I was made redundant because of the continued inaction of Malcolm Turnbull and his government,” Crumlin said.

“I have experienced the hardships that unemployment brings and the stress of supporting a young family.

“My wife had to work two jobs, it was a difficult period and there were many dark days.”

Dan’s story is not an isolated one with many seafarers being sacked in recent years.

While the Abbott-Turnbull regime is determined to demonise the union movement with the introduction of anti-worker legislation, unemployed seafarer Kerry Farrell fired back and demonstrated the humanitarian spirit of MUA members.

“I was part of the John Hunter vessel. The crew on that ship donated thousands of dollars to the hospital in the port on Newcastle,” Farrell said.

“I find it hard to believe that those patients, doctors and nurses would call us union thugs.”

RTBU member Nyssa Parsons spoke about the current attacks on transport workers and the privatisation of public assets.

“The ABCC cuts the condition of people working on track, while the NSW Transport Minister wants to sell off our buses and cut 1,200 jobs,” Parsons said.

Sydney Branch secretary Paul McAleer ended the rally by declaring that the MUA would continue to fight for seafarers and defend the rights of workers.

“It has not been through compliance that we have won our rights; it has been through defiance,” McAleer said.

“Defiance is uniquely working class. The only reason this government has legislated our rights away is because they know if we were to fulfil them, we would defeat them.”

Next article – Housing: service or bubble?

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