The Guardian 30 January, 2008
Border patrol vessel
sacks union workforce
A merchant vessel with a federal government contract to patrol northern Australian waters for illegal fishing has sacked its crew of unionised workers.
Gardline International, owners of the Triton, has informed the 20 Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members that their contracts will not be renewed when it leaves Darwin port after maintenance work this next week.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the seafarers believed their places will be taken by non-union, foreign workers.
"What we do know is that this shipping company predominantly uses foreign crews employed under unregulated Flag of Convenience agreements," Mr Crumlin said.
"It is outrageous that a vessel that has won a government contract to patrol Australia’s water and protect our border security can dump their unionised workforce — all of whom have passed the nations highest security and Customs clearance.
"We believe Gardline will replace the Australian unionised workers with UK seafarers unchecked by our Government and who do not hold Maritime Security Cards."
MUA assistant national secretary Mick Doleman met with new Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus on Friday to raise concerns about the way the contract was being altered.
"Mr Debus was sympathetic to the 20 crew members who will lose their jobs but said there was little he could do under this contract signed by the previous federal government," said Mr Doleman. "These blokes have lost everything."
MUA crew members onboard the Triton in Darwin are refusing to leave the vessel.