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.