Crew strikes against BHP cutback
By Jonathan Singer
SYDNEY — Maritime Union of Australia members aboard BHP's Iron Flinders struck on February 25 against the company's decision to withdraw its ships from the trans-Tasman route. The workers voted on February 26 to defy an Australian Industrial Relations Commission order to return to work.
The crew's delegate, Bill Stephens, told Green Left that BHP had made the decision despite MUA members agreeing to retraining and reductions in crew sizes to save the company money. He explained that the BHP ships were the last with Australian crews on the route, and that crews on the overseas ships — often with substandard training, safety and working conditions — that will now ply the route will be exploited.
Stephens said BHP has joined many other shipowners who, with government encouragement, are employing crews or re-registering ships outside Australia.