Australian unions denounce Alcoa’s decision to hire foreign crew

Australian unions are up in arms at another firm ditching a locally flagged ship in favour of a foreign-crewed one.

Aluminium producer Alcoa has decided to offload the elderly Portland bulker and use a foreign-manned vessel between Bunbury and Kwinana and Portland. Alcoa cited cost savings it could make from not using the 27-year-old vessel anymore.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is threatening federal court action over the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development decision to grant Alcoa a temporary licence last month to allow a foreign crew to do the work.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “Australian workers are being rewarded yet again by this government in complicity with this company for their loyalty, hard-work and professionalism with the sack and forced to watch a foreign workforce be imported to do their job. It’s a national disgrace.”

The MUA has been fighting a losing battle of late to keep Australian seafarers employed.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Australia is a big country, small population and good standard of living. This all raises the unit cost of operation for running the nation.
    This has to be taken into account and industry has to see how to manage this rather than bring overseas labor to do the job. Time will not be far when we start bringing overseas labor to build the roads in Australia. What needs to be looked at is the overtime/weekend work rates to keep the labor costs down and also other measures.

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