THE Maritime Union of Australia rallied yesterday to draw attention to foreign workers they say had been flown in from Singapore to unload cargo at the Port of Newcastle.
In a statement, the MUA said the workers were first thought to be part of the ship’s crew, but it appeared that the workers were flown from Singapore on special visas to help unload the cargo.
MUA Acting Newcastle Branch Secretary Dennis Outram said experienced local workers were being deliberately locked out of their jobs, this time helping to unload huge parts for wind turbines shipped in from overseas.
“It is highly dangerous work and strong safety precautions are essential to ensure no-one is seriously hurt, or killed,” Mr Outram said.
“Our members do not feel safe working alongside an untested labour force that does not appear to be meeting Australian standards.”
Mr Outram also pointed out that bringing in foreign workers in such a way could cause national security issues.
“At a time when we are seeing unprecedented surveillance and scrutiny at our airports, anyone can seemingly come and go through our sea ports,” he said.
“It also jeopardises the safety and jobs of highly-skilled Australian workers.”
A spokesperson for the Port of Newcastle said that the Federal Government is the regulator for safety on board vessels, immigration and employment laws.
“Our company does not have any involvement with work that is carried out onboard ships. Nor did the previous port manager, Newcastle Port Corporation, under state government ownership,” the spokesperson said.
MUA members joined members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union in in the rally.