Protesters march on senator’s office in support of Teekay tanker crew

Athens: Some 200 protesters have today marched on a local senator’s office in support of crewmembers onboard the Teekay tanker Alexander Spirit (40,100 dwt, built 2007).

The vessel’s crew are refusing to sail the ship to Singapore from where it is docked at Devonport, Tasmania, after being told they will lost their jobs upon arrival.

Protestors say the jobs will go to foreign workers, who can be employed more cheaply than Australian nationals.

The march was led through Devonport by Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and proceeded to the office of Liberal senator Richard Colbeck.

Crew from the Alexander Spirit were joined in the rally by Tasmania’s independent Senator Jacqui Lambie; Bryan Green, leader of the parliamentary Labour Party in Tasmania; union members and the general public.

“Do we want to see migrant workers in our shores be exploited, be paid $2 a day, be subjected to conditions that nobody would stand for in this country?” Senator Lambie asked the crowd at the rally.

Seafarer Andy Poynter, who has worked onboard the Alexander Spirit for four years, told press that Teekay is keeping the crew “in the dark” and has not yet given the crew further details about their redundancies. “We want to get that all-clear before we sail,” he told ABC.

The seafarers have filed an application for a hearing to Fair Work Australia in Sydney, according to Australian news reports. Teekay is seeking an order from the commission to halt the industrial action.

Caltex took the MR coastal tanker on a 10-year timecharter in 2009, but terminated the contract early after BP closed its refinery at Bulwer Island, Brisbane.

“Caltex regrets that about 36 crew positions on the Teekay Shipping Australia-operated Alexander Spirit will be affected,” Caltex said in a statement on July 3.

“Teekay is managing the transition and Caltex has been assured the affected crew members will be provided with their full redundancy entitlements. Alexander Spirit will be redeployed to the international fuel supply chain, spending most of its time in international waters competing against every other ship importing fuel into Australia.”

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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