Shipping Australia condemns the rogue action of the Victorian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia who have refused to unload a cargo vessel in Melbourne on the pretext of utterly spurious health and safety claims.
The Union’s claims that the vessel is breaching any sort of regulation and presents an abnormal risk is an outright campaign of lies.
At a time of national crisis when all other Australians are feeling the pressure, the Victorian branch of the MUA is engaging in a blatant attempt to whip up panic and fear for their own selfish ends.
“This behaviour is unconscionable”, Shipping Australia CEO Rod Nairn said. “A desperate action by a desperate union at the expense of the Australian public to try to make themselves appear relevant – what a failure.”
The MUA misinterprets facts and twists the meaning of words to support its false narrative.
The union has falsely claimed that a cargo vessel has docked in breach of 14-day quarantine rules. The fact is that the 14-day quarantine applies to crew members who must remain onboard until the 14-day period has elapsed. The Federal government has not imposed a 14-day quarantine on commercial cargo vessels, which are permitted to berth and work cargo on arrival.
The Victorian MUA is attempting to create a fake narrative by cherry-picking facts from completely different sectors. Their statement intentionally confuses cruise ships with cargo vessel. This is a ridiculous and false argument.
Cargo vessels and cruise ships have completely different risk profiles.
Cruise ships are floating hotels with thousands of passengers and crew from all over the world who have been freely mixing. In contrast, cargo vessels are giant mobile warehouses carrying tonnes upon tonnes of desperately needed goods, food, and medical equipment. Cargo vessels have hardly anyone onboard in comparison and their 20 or so crew members have very little contact with the outside world.
Cruise ships and cargo vessels are not even remotely the same and the MUA knows it.
Cargo vessel crews are very serious about protecting their own health. They try to avoid going ashore at all. And when they need to step onto the wharf to carry out vital ship safety checks, they protect their health by wearing facemasks and other personal protective equipment. They have adopted strict cleanliness protocols throughout their ships.
Think also about the physical nature of a cargo vessel. It is a giant building-like object to which the vast majority of the community do not have access. Because of that physical nature, cargo vessel crews simply do not mix with the community, which is where COVID-19 is circulating. Crews are self-isolating now. They were self-isolating at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. And because of the inherent nature of ocean-going vessels they were already self-isolating for literally decades, never mind for 14-days, before the outbreak even got started.
Crews also restrict who can come onboard their safe space. Only the most essential personnel are allowed onboard. And even then, what they do, where they go, what they can touch and who they interact with are very limited. No-one is ever given the free run of the vessel. These precautionary measures minimise the chance that visitors can adversely affect the health of the crew.
The ridiculous lies of the Victorian MUA are just that: ridiculous and lies. Their refusal to unload this ship could disrupt the flow of medical goods to hospitals and doctors and the flow of foodstuffs and groceries to ordinary Australian families.
Shipping Australia chief executive officer, Rod Nairn, utterly condemned the Victorian MUA’s shameless action.
“They are abusing the COVID-19 crisis for their own aggrandisement. This is no surprise from the Victoria branch of the MUA, which has shown its true anarchist colours in the past with its illegal blockade of the VICT terminal over the busy Christmas period back in 2017. Nothing has changed.
“But it must stop,” Mr Nairn said.
Shipping Australia calls on the Victorian MUA to stop its reckless industrial action and think of the Australian people. Shipping Australia calls upon the Victorian MUA to act responsibly and in the national interest. Shipping Australia calls upon the Victorian MUA to put the needs of our doctors and nurses, our desperately sick patients, and Australian families, first.
Let our freight flow, MUA. It’s the right thing to do.
Notes for editors
Shipping Australia is a peak national shipping association comprising 28-member shipping lines and shipping agents along with 44 companies that provide services to the commercial freight-related maritime industry. Our members are involved with over 70 per cent of Australia’s container and car trade, over 60 per cent of our break bulk and bulk trades.
Policy & Communications Officer
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