The Guardian July 31, 2002


ANL hijacks cargo, jobs

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is gearing up to do battle with 
ANL in an attempt to rescue 34 Australian jobs. The last of the once proud 
Australian National Line container ships will no longer fly the Australian 
flag. The OOCL Australia was due to port at Brisbane but is now 
heading for Taiwan with its Brisbane-bound cargo still on board. Its 
Australian crew will be paid off and repatriated.

"We are not going to stand back and watch an entire industry disappear. 
Australian working families stood behind the MUA against CSL and we'll make 
a stand against the CGM consortium" said MUA National Secretary Paddy 
Crumlin.

The Howard Government sold the Australian-owned shipping fleet ANL to the 
French company CGM and the Canadian based CSL in the 90's.

ANL denies it has hijacked any Australian cargo, but the MUA has a fax from 
ANL General Manager, Operations, Noel Dent, dated July 23. The fax stated 
that the OOCL Australia was scheduled to dock in Brisbane.

One by one foreign shipping consortiums have replaced the Australian crewed 
and flagged fleet with flags of convenience and highly exploited third 
world labour.

Ships of shame, such as the ANL Progress which has just arrived in 
Melbourne, are at the centre of a dispute with the International Transport 
Federation (ITF). The New Zealand courts ruled in February that ITF 
inspectors continue to be allowed aboard to check crew conditions and 
wages.

"They refuse to sign agreements on basic ITF minimum wage rates", said ITF 
Australia Co-ordinator Dean Summers. "What have they got to hide? Is it 
that the crew are getting the sort of slave wages we uncovered in Fremantle 
last week  US$215 a month basic?"

The ITF claimed the crew had been cheated $300,000 in wages, intimidated 
and stood-over.

Australian seafarers on board the ANL Bass Trader had started a 
hunger strike in solidarity with OCC Australia.

The crew on board the ship voted to keep it in port and go on the hunger 
strike fight against ANL's decision to flag out the last Australian 
container vessel and make all 34 crew redundant. Another 34 jobs would go 
if the company decides to replace crew on the ship.

"They've done it to the OOCL Australia and we could be next", said 
union spokesman Barry Saint. "This protest is to show that Australian 
seafarers and their families are going to be left starving while the 
Australian shipping industry is replaced by shonky flag of convenience 
vessels."

The ANL fleet is now almost entirely flag of convenience  ships of shame 
infamous for environmental disasters, human rights abuse and, more, 
recently gun running, drug trafficking and shipping terrorists.

The MUA is seeking a commitment from the company that both crews are 
represented at formal discussions with management.

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