Union battle with CSL back on
by Janice Hamilton Maritime unions and the Canadian Shipping Line (CSL) were back in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Sydney recently, as the CSL Yarra re-appeared on the Australian coast under another name and flying a "flag of convenience". The ship is now known as Stadacona. The CSL Yarra was the centre of a 16-day dispute in Port Pirie in May over company attempts to replace the Australian crew with foreign seamen. Its sister ship the CSL Pacific already plies the Australian coast flying the Bahamas flag with a Ukrainian crew working on low wages and conditions. All three maritime unions, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU), and the Australian Institute of Marine Power Engineers (AIMPE) have moved to rope in the owners or operators of the CSL Pacific (alias Torrens) under the award. The vessel has been trading around the Australian coast for the past year. The first hearing before the full bench of the Commission was held in Sydney in early June, with CSL arguing that flagging out its ships was no different than Australian textile companies moving offshore. Union lawyers, however, claimed that CSL was involved in a corporate ship shuffling exercise to subvert the Award and avoid the Commission's reach. Last week maritime unions provided a special "welcoming" committee for the Bahamas flagged Stadacona (the renamed CSL Yarra) when it arrived in Brisbane. CSL paid off and repatriated the Australian crew when it arrived in Noumea in early June and took on a foreign crew and hoisted the pirate "flag of convenience". The company has now antagonised unions even more by bringing the ship back onto the Australian coast in total disregard for the interests of Australian seamen and traders. The Federal Government has facilitated this attack on seamen and the destruction of Australian shipping.