Seafarers stop Adsteam tugs
By Robert Darcy
SYDNEY — Seafarers on Adsteam tugs struck on November 26 to oppose company attempts to cut crew numbers. Tugs operate with two deckhands, a master and an engineer; Adsteam wants the tug engineer to do the work of a deckhand and do away with one of those jobs.
Responding in the Maritime Workers' Journal to Adsteam's claim that the proposal would not compromise safety, Adsteam employee Peter Lamond said, "It's unworkable and it's unsafe ... In sloppy, rough weather you've got one man running the break on the hook and the other fellow sending off lines. If you lose the second man, you're in all sorts of trouble. It would be too dangerous to carry on."
Adsteam is not proposing to introduce labour-saving technology, such as magnetic hook-ups for the lines.
Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary Mick Doleman said, "This is a claim that the MUA and its members will not concede to, and we will do whatever is necessary within the law to convince Adsteam Marine ... of the stupidity of this claim".
Earlier, Adsteam attempted to have its 350 employees sign up individually to an enterprise agreement now under negotiation.
Last week, masters on Adsteam tugs (members of the Australian Marine Officers Union) also walked off the job as part of protected industrial action during their enterprise negotiations. The company has offered a pay increase of 2%, backdated to February, but the AMOU wants 5%, backdated to August 1998, and 4% from next February.