Sydney: Australian crew onboard an oil tanker operated by Teekay Shipping are refusing to sail the vessel to Singapore from Tasmania, after being told they will be made redundant after the vessel arrives.
The 36 crew are transporting oil for Caltex onboard the MR tanker Alexander Spirit (40,100 dwt, built 2007), which is currently anchored at Devenport, Tasmania.
The seafarers have filed an application for a hearing in Fair Work Australia, according to Australian news reports.
Ian Bray from the Maritime Union of Australia told press that Caltex may well return the ship to Australian waters with a foreign crew, who could be employed much more cheaply than Australian nationals, in an effort to avoid cabotage laws.
“Once there’s an Australian vessel that’s not available to carry the cargo it’s quite legal for a company to bring in a ship with a foreign crew, and that’s exactly what they’re doing,” Bray said. “They’re removing the impediment to the cheaper labour by removing the ship.”
The Australian government has proposed coastal shipping reforms in its new Budget, which it is hoped will simplify cabotage regulations in the country. One of the proposed reforms is to replace the “five-licence” requirement with a simple coastal permit.
Unions in Australia protested in May when BP took one of its MR coastal product tankers out of operation in the country following the closure of one of its Australian refineries. The 36 crew were made redundant when the vessel reached Singapore.