Trade unionists have acted with predictable ire down under following the news that miner BHP and BlueScope Steel have cancelled a domestic shipping contract, leaving nearly 80 Australian crew redundant.
Under a 17-year arrangement, Australian crews aboard the bulkers Mariloula and the Lowlands Brilliance ship BHP iron ore from Port Hedland to BlueScope’s steel mill in Port Kembla and pick up coal that is then exported to China before returning to Western Australia.
Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin labelled the move to switch to foreign crews a “disgrace and an act of corporate bastardry”.
Crumlin continued: “They are basically dumping Australians so that they can avoid tax, and get crews that get paid $5 or $10 a day, pretty contemptible.”
A BlueScope spokesman told local media: “We must ensure that we have internationally competitive raw material supply arrangements, so our local manufacturing operations, which employ 6,500 Australians, remain viable.”