Ship Offering Low Pay to Filipino Crew Sparks Uproar

SAN FRANCISCO: Australian transport unions and private industry are currently engaged in an industrial and political tussle over a foreign-flagged ship with a Filipino crew on board, according to media reports.

The International Transport Workers Federation says the Filipino crew members of a Singapore-registered ship chartered to haul aluminum ore from Western Australia to Alcoa’s smelter in Portland, Victoria, are each to be paid about $US150 ($207) a week, reported Inquirer.

The ship and its Filipino crew are set to replace Alcoa’s MV Portland and its 40 Australian crewmembers, further fueling a campaign against cheap foreign crews on Australia’s coastal routes, Sydney Morning Herald was quoted as saying.

Unions reportedly claim that opening Australia’s coastal route to foreign crews, who do not undergo the stringent security checks like Australian seafarers, could threaten Australia’s national security.

The crew members of the MV Portland are defying orders from the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court. They refuse to sail their ship to Singapore, where it is to be sold, leaving them jobless, the report said.

The 27-year-old MV Portland has been anchored for more than two weeks in Portland’s harbor. Alcoa reportedly argues it will save $6 million a year by scrapping its ship and chartering a foreign vessel, it added.

Political supporters of the Australian seamen called on the Turnbull government to withdraw the “temporary” license allowing Alcoa to use a foreign ship and with a lower paid crew on the coastal route, said the news portal.

The “temporary” license that lets Alcoa use a foreign ship and a lower-paid crew on the route may be withdrawn, with the Turnbull government being petitioned by political supporters of the Australian seamen, said the Inquirer report.



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