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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Shell tanker crew demands jobs guarantee

From ABC News (Australia)

The crew of a second tanker docked in Hobart has called for guarantees its employer will not cut Australian jobs to hire cheaper foreign labour.

The chemical tanker MV Stolt has been at the centre of an industrial row, after owner Stolt NYK unveiled plans to sack the entire 36-man crew, and hire Filipino staff once the ship reaches Singapore.

The crew of the Shell-owned tanker Helix have come out in support for the Stolt’s sacked workers, with a member of the Stolt crew reading a statement from the Helix staff.

“We condemn Stolt and the Howard Government for their promotion of guest labour at the expense of local jobs and the systematic destruction of the Australian shipping industry,” the statement said.

“Howard’s new IR laws have given unfettered access to guest labour and are designed to remove the capacity of unions to defend basic injustices.”

The statement calls for Shell to guarantee it will continue to employ Australian seafarers.

“We are concerned for our jobs and we call on Shell to commit to ongoing utilisation of Australian crewed and flagged vessels,” the statement said.

“We also call on Shell to reveal whether they will allow their cargo to be carried by foreign guest workers which will man the Stolt Australia.”

Industrial action

Members of the sacked tanker crew are currently loading acid from a smelter on the River Derwent.

However, they have refused to rule out further industrial action.

Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says under the new industrial laws each crew member faces a $6,000 fine per day and even possible jail time for striking.

The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) has congratulated the crew.

It says Stolt NYK’s plans are a threat to national security.

The Australian Maritime Union (AMU) is accusing a Tasmanian Senator of spreading misinformation about the industrial row.

About 25 members of the AMU rallied in Devonport outside the office of Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck.

Senator Colbeck says the union had contributed to the sackings, by forcing uncompetitive working conditions on the Australian shipping market.

AMU spokesman Jason Campbell says that is not correct and foreign exploitation is the problem.

“We can’t compete with Third World wages,” he said.

“Everyone in this country’s got a mortgage, children to send to school – it just seems to be a race to the bottom.

“We should be encouraging the Third World countries to come up to our level, not us to go to their level.

“When we’re talking about seafarers are on $US300 a month, I mean no one in this country can afford to live on those sorts of wages.”

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