The last Australian seafarers to carry iron ore for BHP and BlueScope — work that was undertaken for more than a century — returned home today after completing their final voyage to Dandong, China.
The crew of the MV Lowlands Brilliance were in the Coral Sea last month when they were informed via email that BHP and Bluescope had decided to immediately axe the last remaining Australian bulk carriers that carried iron ore between Port Hedland and Port Kembla.
The Maritime Union of Australia said BHP and BlueScope had provided no warning to loyal crew members, and conducted no consultation, before deciding to bring an immediate end to 100 years of Australian seafarers carrying iron ore for BHP.
Six crew members of the MV Lowlands Brilliance arrived at Sydney Airport this morning and were meet by MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith, ALP Vice President Mich-Elle Myers, and NSW ALP Deputy Leader Penny Sharpe. The crew of the other Australian bulk carrier contracted by BHP and BlueScope, the MV Mariloula, returned to Australia last week.
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin slammed the Morrison Government, accusing it of being 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.
“BHP and Bluescope can’t use these exploited foreign seafarers to carry iron ore between Australian ports without a temporary license, and these can only be issued with the approval of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, so the Federal Government has the final say as to whether these jobs stay or go.”