About 100 people joined the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and other unions in Geelong at a rally to support the striking Tandara Spirit workers on December 1.
Viva Energy, which owns the Geelong oil refinery, ordered the ship to sail to Singapore where the Australian crew would be made redundant and the ship returned to its owners. The crew defied those orders with a three-week sit-in.
The Tandara Spirit is one of just five Australian-operated tankers left. Workers are concerned that Viva Energy could replace them with workers earning as little as $20 a day.
Crew members released a letter that said in part: “There can and should be a role for hardworking Australians in shipping fuel to this country”.
The rally heard from speakers who raised demands of mandated targets for the local production of fuel to protect local jobs and ensure future fuel security.
MUA state secretary Kevin Bracken said the MUA did not believe in an industrial relations system undermined by companies that operate on the basis of exploiting foreign crews by paying slave wages in slave-like conditions.