Crook cook delays acid ship as Fed Govt condemned on job losses

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Crook cook delays acid ship as Fed Govt condemned on job losses

The departure of a ship carrying sulphuric acid that will see its 18 Australian crew members off-loaded in Singapore to be replaced by Filipinos has been delayed - because the ship's cook is sick.

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The departure of a ship carrying sulphuric acid that will see its 18 Australian crew members off-loaded in Singapore to be replaced by Filipinos has been delayed - because the ship's cook is sick.

The MT Stolt Australia was due to leave Hobart yesterday but the crew refused to sail without a cook. Stolt NYK managing director Peter Beekman told the Industrial Relations Commission he has given orders for the ship to sail short-handed while a replacement cook is found.

The company has threatened to have the crewmen fined if they don't return to work.

Meanwhile the Australian Greens have cheekily suggested it would be 'more honest for Prime Minister John Howard to swap the Australian flag he uses for news conferences to a Cayman Islands flag, since he seems to prefer it flying over ships plying Australian waters'.

Filipino crew

The Stolt is due to have its registration changed to the tax haven Cayman Islands before it takes on the Filipino crew, who it is believed will be paid $400 a month.

Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania, Christine Milne, said the dispute in Hobart over the Stolt was the latest example of the Howard government undermining Australian shipping and Australian values.

'Ten years ago, there were 104 Australian-flagged ships working the Australian coastline. Now, there are only 52,' Senator Milne said in Hobart.

'Waving the Australian flag and wearing the Australian colours are more than just for show. Every time the Cayman Islands flag is run up the flagpole where an Australian flag used to fly, the Prime Minister stands condemned.

Drive jobs offshore

'Prime Minister Howard says he supports the battlers and Australian jobs but he continues to drive jobs offshore, leaving the battlers unemployed and faced with a $33,000 fine if they take action to try to save their jobs. How un-Australian is that?'

Senator Milne said foreign-flagged vessels are notorious for cutting corners with human and environmental safety.

'The community should be worried that foreign-flagged ships with their foreign crews, in increasing numbers, are transporting chemicals and oil around the Australian coast,' she said.

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon today called upon the Australian Government to show leadership and support the Australian crew aboard MV Stolt.

'While not only deserting Australian workers in favour of foreign crews the Howard Government's extreme and unfair IR laws are being used to suppress freedom of speech of hard working Australians,' he said.

Fines for protecting jobs

'It is outrageous that Australian workers can face massive personal fines and imprisonment for simply trying to protect their jobs and their families' welfare.'

Lennon called on Prime Minister John Howard to condemn the owners of the MV Stolt for tearing down the Australian flag.

Labor Member for Denison Graeme Sturges said that due to Federal Laws, '18 hard-working Australians have been given their marching orders - replaced by poorly-trained Filipino seafarers'.

'This is about safety standards. Australian seafarers are among the most highly-trained and skilled in the world,' he said. 'What price do we pay as a country when hard-working, skilled Australians lose their jobs, so companies can employ poorly-skilled foreign labour on lower wages?'

Protest

Around 100 unionists have gathered outside the Melbourne offices of shipping company Stolt NYK yesterday in protest against job losses.

The Australian Workers Union's Bill Shorten says the Federal Government's new industrial relations laws are responsible for the job losses.

Related

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