31 Dec 2009 — The IMO has declared 2010 Year of the Seafarer. But National Secretary of the MUA Paddy Crumlin says to ensure a future for young seafarers, 2010 is the year the Government needs to urgently create incentives for investment in new ships.
The International Maritime Organisation has placed a clear focus on the world’s 1.5 million seafarers in 2010 by choosing- as the theme for World Maritime Day - “2010: Year of the Seafarer”.
Secretary General of the IMO, Efthimios Mitropoulos, said dedicating the theme to men and women seafarers recognised the “contribution you make to the well-being of all of us. We will do so with deep appreciation, in recognition of the extraordinary service you render every day of your professional life, frequently under dangerous circumstances, in delivering, to the more than 6.5 billion people of the world, the wheat that makes our daily bread, the gas and oil that warms our homes or moves our vehicles and the gifts we will share and enjoy with our families and friends over this Festive Season.”
“We are ever-conscious of the important role you play in helping us achieve safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans - the goals that we, as the United Nations specialized agency charged with the regulation of international shipping and as a member of the global maritime community, have set ourselves. And so, we will celebrate next year’s World Maritime Day theme with much pride in your contribution to our objectives, to the facilitation of more than 90% of the world’s trade, and to sustainable human development”, Mr Mitropoulos said.
The message was one of reassuring seafarers that the IMO would seek to add impetus to the “Go to Sea!” campaign, launched in November 2008 to attract new entrants to the shipping industry.
The MUA’s National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the union would continue to offer incentives to young people seeking a future in seafaring, with opportunities widening with the fast expanding growth on oil and gas projects off the north west of Australia, in Timor, Bass Strait and Papua New Guinea.
“If we are celebrating the Year of the Seafarer in Australia this year we have to make sure that there is a clear future for the young men and women we are recruiting. It puts more focus on the need for the Government to put the reforms in place to revitalise Australian shipping.
“The Government is considering a number of ways to stimulate spending in new infrastructure through items like a tonnage tax on ships - frequently used in successful international shipping economies. As an industry we have to let the Government know how urgent changes are in 2010.
Mr Mitropoulos said the IMO wanted seafarers to know that “the entire shipping community understands and cares for you”.
“As shown by the efforts we make to ensure that you are fairly treated when ships on which you serve become involved in accidents; are looked after when you are abandoned in ports; are not refused shore leave for security purposes; are protected when your work takes you into piracy-infested areas; and are not left unaided when you are in distress at sea”..
31 Dec 2009 — Since 2006 470 Filipinos have died at the hands of pirates. Anti piracy training will now be mandatory, a significant move says MUA’s Paddy Crumlin.
The Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said on Monday that the training of about eight hours, will be mandatory starting Jan 15. The measure is a response to a wave of ship hijackings, which remain a serious problem a year after an international naval armada began operating off Somalia to protect shipping lanes.
“It’s a sign of the times and backs up the Advisory Guidelines out government has just made available to our crews to prepare them for voyages through pirate infested waters. Training is essential if we are to tackle this problem head on and this is great news for Filipino seafarers”, said Paddy Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary.
“The figure is hard to believe but Somali pirates have killed 470 Filipinos since 2006 so this preparation can’t come soon enough”, said Crumlin.
Associated Press reported that sailors will be taught how to use fire hoses and manoeuvre their vessels to prevent pirates boarding them. They will also learn how to manage hostage crises if they are taken captive.
Recruiting agencies will conduct the training and issue a certificate required by the government prior to a seafarer’s departure.
The program is based on one used by the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, which operates about 80 percent of the world’s tankers.
The course will teach sailors how to detect approaching pirates and who to communicate with in case of an attack, he said. The guidelines include telling sailors to go full speed ahead in case the crew detects small vessels nearby, and to avoid sailing near coastlines.
30 Dec 2009 — Australian labour laws will now cover foreign seafarers, guest workers, on ships trading Australian domestic cargo on our coast, in a major victory for Australian shipping and both Australian and international seafarers.
But the legislation did not pass through parliament without some modifications to get Senate approval.
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard was forced to offer a compromise when the Opposition threatened to use their numbers in the Senate to block Regulations under the Fair Work Act aimed at ensuring Australian labour standards apply to all seafarers operating in the Australian coastal trade.
For the time being ships with one or two permit voyages in any 12 months will be exempt from the operation of the Fair Work Act (and any Award made under the Act). “Nevertheless it is still an important step towards protecting Australian coastal shipping from unfair competition and foreign seafarers from exploitation,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. “The principle that any worker coming to Australia to work in any industry should be covered by Australian labour laws now applies to Australian waters.”
The legislation comes into effect on January 1.
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission Seagoing Industry Award 2010 (SIA), however will not come into effect for foreign seafarers for another year. The commission has separated permit ships from non-permit ships delaying implementation of the Fair Work Act 2009 on international ships until January, 2011.
A spokeswoman for the federal employment and workplace relations minister, Julia Gillard, told DCN Lloyds List that AIRC had created two parts to the award – Part A to be for non-permit ships, which are respondents to the current award, and Part B for permit ships.
“For Part B, the AIRC has confirmed that due regard will need to be paid to international conditions, including those in the International Transport Federation’s agreement, as well as the National Employment Standards,” she said. “Part B of the SIA will be further considered by Fair Work Australia and become operative on January 1, 2011.”
Meanwhile the ACTU reports the new minimum employment standards for Australian workers that come into effect on New Year’s Day represent a major step forward from WorkChoices.
Welcoming the changes, the ACTU says the 10 National Employment Standards deliver on a core part of the Your Rights at Work union and community campaign against WorkChoices.
They set out minimum entitlements for all workers that cannot be taken away under any circumstances, including hours of work, leave, notice of termination and redundancy pay.
Also, a raft of modern industry awards which begin to take effect from January will provide additional enforceable minimum employment terms and conditions for hundreds of thousands of other workers, including minimum wages, penalty rates, and superannuation.
“The new rights and protections that come into force on New Year’s Day are in addition to enhanced unfair dismissal protection, rights to collective bargaining and a good faith bargaining regime for all workers who began in July 2009,” said Sharan Burrow, ACTU President.
A key innovation in the improved safety net is a new right to request flexible working arrangements – a crucial breakthrough for working parents juggling family responsibilities.
But the ACTU warns the newly-won rights and protections were already under threat from the Federal Opposition led by Tony Abbott, who has signalled he wants to bring back a new version of WorkChoices.