The Guardian May 22, 2002


MUA hails victory in Yarra Dispute

by Janice Hamilton

The ACTU and unions signed an agreement with CSL on Thursday last week 
which formally ends a five-month long dispute with the company. This 
effectively ends the stand off between MUA members on board the 
Yarra and the company.

According to the union, terms of settlement are strictly confidential, but 
the Maritime Union is happy that all its concerns about guest workers and 
flag-of-convenience shipping, replacing Australian crewed vessels in the 
domestic shipping industry, have been addressed for the time being.

"What we can say is that all Australian crew will be returning to the 
Yarra to sail ship from Port Pirie to Adelaide within days", said 
National Secretary of the MUA Paddy Crumlin.

"This is despite the determination of CSL to evict them from the ship. It's 
an achievement won by men and women who stood firm for the Australian 
shipping industry and Australian workers, refusing to surrender in the face 
of intimidation and threats of massive fines."

The settlement follows an agreement in the Australian Industrial Relations 
Commission, whereby the cement industry representatives stated their 
preference for Australian labour and Australian-flagged vessels.

Australian-flagged ship

The cement industry intends putting an Australian-flagged and crewed ship 
on the run and talks with the Australian shipowners are already underway.

"Australian ship owners have put their hands up for the job already", said 
Mr Crumlin.

"This clearly exposes that foreign-flagged ships have been rorting the 
Australian Navigation Act and getting permits to work in the domestic trade 
when Australian ships have been available to do the work. Yet the Act 
spells out that foreign-flagged vessels should only work the coast when no 
Australian ships are available or suitable.

"The CSL debacle once and for all exposes the Federal Government's policy 
of circumventing the Act and deregulating our coastline by promoting cut 
rate, substandard shipping at the expense of jobs, the environment and 
national security", said Paddy Crumblin.

Victory celebrations were held for the crew on Friday. Unions such as the 
Au stralian Workers' Union and the local community were thanked for 
rallying behind the crew by donating power, food and supplies to the vessel 
during the last fortnight.

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