MARITIME Union national secretary Paddy Crumlin has called upon Prime Minister Scott Morrison to meet mariners from the MV Lowlands Brilliance when they arrive at Sydney Airport on Wednesday (6 February).
The mariners became redundant after BHP opted to no longer use the Australian-crewed vessel, as well as the MV Mariloula, in shipping iron ore from Port Hedland to the BlueScope steel facility at Port Kembla.
The mariners are returning home after completing their final voyage to Dandong, China.
According to the union, the crew were in the Coral Sea last month when they were informed of their fate.
The union says BHP and BlueScope provided no warning to loyal crew members, and conducted no consultation prior to its decision.
Mr Crumlin criticised the government, saying it was “directly responsible for the loss of these last iron ore vessels”.
“Scott Morrison should front up to Sydney Airport, meet these workers, and tell them why his government has rubber-stamped BHP and BlueScope replacing them with exploited foreign seafarers who are paid as little as $2 an hour,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The Liberal National Coalition has spent the last five years in government actively undermining what is left of Australia’s shipping industry and now wants to make it even easier for multinational companies to replace Australian seafarers with exploited labour.”
The government has previously argued that the case is a private one for BHP and BlueScope.
BHP has said the freight arrangements with the two ships date to a time when BHP was a major steel manufacturer and processor but that its business has changed.