A PROPOSAL by Svitzer Australia to quit the ports of Jackson (Sydney Harbour) and Geelong has “devastated” members of the Australian Maritime Officers Union.

The company cited financial pain for its decision, albeit the proposal is said to be based upon achieving agreement with the unions.

In a statement, the AMOU said it wanted more talks with the company.

“Australian Maritime Officers Union members are devastated that Svitzer has announced it will no longer provide marine towage services in the Ports of Geelong and Port Jackson,” the union stated.

The AMOU said 2020 had been “a year of fear, uncertainty and sacrifice”.

“Tugboat masters have worked through this pandemic, taking extreme care of their own health and safety as well as those they work in close contact with, in the company’s best interests and to keep our vital sea trade going,” the union stated.

“It is now clear that at the end of 2020 our 10 members affected in Geelong and Sydney will be repaid with the loss of their jobs in a depressed towage services labour market.

“Christmas 2020 for their families and themselves has been cancelled by Svitzer.”

The AMOU said it had not had official correspondence from Svitzer on how it planned to wind down operations in the two ports.

“We are seeking immediate detailed discussions with Svitzer on these developments,” the union stated.

“The AMOU will strive to keep as many of our Geelong and Port Jackson members employed by Svitzer as is humanely possible.”