“The most outrageous act of industrial relations thuggery.” That was how Paddy Crumlin, national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, described this morning’s contentious nighttime raid of the Portland ship, which brought to an end a two-month stand-off between the crew of the vessel and aluminium giant Alcoa.
The MUA said a private security firm was engaged to escort several workers off the ship about 1:00am.
They had been staying onboard the ship in the south-west Victorian port of Portland in protest at Alcoa’s decision to switch to a foreign ship and crew.
In a statement Alcoa said it took “decisive action today to end protracted illegal industrial action”.
“Alcoa has been extremely tolerant and given the MUA and its members every opportunity to stop their illegal industrial action,” said managing director of Alcoa Australia Michael Parker.
“Instead, the MUA has held our ship hostage for two months; disrupting the lives of other crewmembers, disrupting operations at the Port of Portland, and threatening the Portland community with the loss of cruise ship visits. This has gone on long enough.”
The vessel is now on its way to Singapore to be scrapped.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten labelled the midnight raid “disturbing”.
“I’m deeply disturbed that we’re seeing Australian seafarers being marched off ships, replaced by foreign seafarers. If nothing else, a government in Australia should stand up for Australian jobs,” Shorten said.