MV Portland

Portland five – seafarers sacked and replaced with exploited foreign workers.

Five crew members aboard Alcoa ship the MV Portland were woken at 1am on the morning of 13 January by up to 30 security guards, handed their passports and forcibly removed from the vessel.

With the workers dumped on the Portland dock the MV Portland then set sail to Singapore, with a foreign crew.

It followed a 60-day dispute with Alcoa, triggered when the American–based miner sacked the 40 Australian workers.

The company has attempted circumvent Australia’s cabotage laws and shift to foreign vessels, many of them Flags of Convenience (FOC’s) using exploited workers on as little as $2 an hour.

There remain many unanswered questions about the legitimacy of Alcoa’s heavy-handed approach in forcibly removing workers in the middle of the night.

Alcoa was allowed to utilise a foreign vessel, with a foreign crew, after the Turnbull Government granted the company a temporary licence on the exclusively domestic route, which moves cargo between Western Australia and the smelter in Portland.

The MV Portland has plied that route for 27 years. Temporary licences are intended for predominantly foreign trading ships that call into more than one Australian port for a temporary period.

Australia currently has cabotage laws which state that ships trading through domestic ports are to be Australian flagged and crewed.

The Australian Senate has blocked the Turnbull Government’s deregulation agenda with the Government’s own figures saying this would result in more than 1,000 direct job losses.

The Turnbull Government should never have issued this temporary licence to Alcoa and they should cancel it immediately.

Australians have a right to work jobs in their own country and to be treated with respect by an employer profiting off the minerals that belong to the Australian people.

We deserve a Government that stands up for Australian jobs, not one that destroys them. Put the Liberals last on July 2nd, it’s where they put us!

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