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Australian crew refuse to return ship to Singapore in protest against job losses

Australian crew refuse to return ship to Singapore in protest against job losses

MELBOURNE: To record protest, Australian crew on board a petrol tanker in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay are staging a sit-in to protest against job losses and the increased use of foreign vessels to deliver Australia’s fuel.

The Tandara Spirit has been anchored in the bay for the past two weeks and its 18 crew members have refused to return the ship to its port in Singapore because they believe they will be made redundant and replaced with a cheaper foreign crew.

One of the workers on board the tanker, Kevin Miller, said the crew was worried about its future.

“We have the right to carry Australian goods on the Australian coast.”

Victoria’s Maritime Union assistant secretary Ian Bray said there had been no transparency for the ship’s workers, and they would not return to Singapore until they had more answers from operator Viva Energy.

“While they were sitting out at anchor, it was realised that Viva had contracted a foreign-flagged vessel with an international crew, paid wages of about $2 an hour to carry the cargo the Tandara Spirit would normally carry,” he said.

A statement from Viva Energy confirmed it would be handing back the fuel tanker once its lease expired next month and it would not be replaced.

The company said it no longer required a dedicated coastal vessel to transport petroleum products within Australia and it was using temporary licences for moving speciality products to multiple ports.

Mr Bray said the crew have not been told whether they had any future work in Australia.

“They can’t understand why the company are removing an Australian-manned ship off the coast to put a foreign-manned vessel and pay them substantially less,” he said.