Tasmanian maritime worker speaks out on job losses to foreigners

Meet former Tasmanian maritime worker Karl Williams who - similar to the workers in the Alexander Spirit - also lost his job to foreign workers and is now allegedly the subject of legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman which could cost him $10,200.

“ Mr Williams told me that in late 2014, he was part of a crew of the Tandara Spirit in Port Phillip Bay, which refused to lift the anchor and sail to Singapore where the Australian crew were to be sacked and replaced with foreign maritime workers.

When I asked Mr Williams to describe his experiences on the Oil Tanker, Tandara Spirit he reported, (and I quote)

 … they did exactly what they’re doing to the people on the Alexandra Spirit. Just wanted to take her to Singapore and finish us up, with no explanation – and no discussion about your job future.

We refused to pick up the anchor until we got company representatives down on board to explain what was happening to us… and as far as redundancies were concerned and peoples’ futures … so that took quite a while for things to be sorted out … and once we did sail from Port Phillip Bay to Singapore the company dropped all legal proceedings and actions.

Once I got home at Christmas time I was sent emails from the Fair Work Ombudsman … which I didn’t really understand… until I was contacted by the Union’s Lawyers. I was only last week served papers to say that they are taking me to court.” (end of quote)

If the disclosures by Mr Williams are accurate, I demand that Prime Minister Abbott explain why his government, through his Fair Work Ombudsman is taking legal action against the former Australian Maritime workers of the Tandara Spirit - given that the shipping company who employed them, reportedly dropped all legal proceedings.

If the disclosures by Mr Williams are accurate – it would also be further proof that the Abbott government has launched a broad, sophisticated, vindictive political attack on ordinary Australian workers who dare speak out - when their jobs are in danger of being taken by foreign workers.

When you consider that fact that:

  1. the Abbott government have paved the way through secret free trade agreements and processes to allow Chinese and other tradespeople to take Australian jobs in the building and construction industry; and
  2. Liberal politicians everywhere – including Tasmania - support legislation which helps big Oil companies replace our maritime workers with foreigners…
… you can understand why Australia’s big end of town is so keen to donate to the Liberals and Nationals. It looks like they are getting good value for money. Parliamentary Library research I commissioned (see attachment 1) showed that, (and I quote)

Electoral funding data released by the Australian Electoral Commission reveals that political donations in the 2013-2014 financial year hit a record $202 million, which is a sixfold increase from the previous year.

Labor and the Coalition parties share the bulk of that money coming in with over $92 million for the Liberals and $69 million for Labor. In addition, more than 60 per cent of the donations received by the Liberal and Labor parties were not disclosed.

(end of quote)” said Senator Lambie.

“My research also shows that Caltex Australia who owns the Alexander Spirit – the ship which shortly will have its Australian workers replaced with foreigners in Singapore – donated almost $ 34,000 to the Liberals and Nationals prior to the last federal election.

I acknowledge that Caltex Australia, in relation to their political donations, played with in the rules, but it’s now time to look carefully at those rules. As witnessed by recent disclosures on the ABC’s 4 Corners programs, ordinary Australians are not comfortable with the level of political influence that organised crime and our big corporations have over Australian political parties.” said Senator Lambie

Given the massive loss of Australian maritime workers jobs and great potential for significant loss of other Australian jobs and the legal attack on them - it would be very hard to vote for proposed Abbott Government changes to the Fair Work Commission which allows them to increase their industrial powers at the expense of workers’ rights.

Clearly, when you consider the facts of the crisis in Australian Maritime industry and the Building and Construction industries, we have a government which has been caught out abusing their powers and turning a blind eye while Australian workers’ jobs are lost to foreigners.” said Senator.

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