Sacked for being Australian

Seafarers sacked and replaced with exploited foreign workers. In January of 2016 the crew of Alcoa’s ship, MV Portland, were dragged from their beds and removed from the vessel in a secret midnight raid. They were immediately replaced by a foreign crew paid just $2 per hour.

Five crew members aboard Alcoa ship, MV Portland, were woken at 1am on the morning of 13 January 2016 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 40 Australian workers.

The company had attempted to circumvent Australia’s sabotage laws and shift to foreign vessels, many of them Flags of Convenience (FOC) 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. This licence exempts Alcoa’s ships from paying tax in Australia, Australian safety and security laws and Australian employment laws.

The MV Portland had 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.

The Turnbull Government should never have issued this temporary licence to Alcoa and they should cancel it immediately. They are complicit in the worst example of guerrilla tactics to get rid of Australian workers since the Patricks dispute of 1998.

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.