The Australian Council of Trade Unions will organise a Shipping Industry Summit in order to redress the crisis currently unfolding in Australian shipping.

A motion, tabled by the Maritime Union of Australia, was passed unanimously at yesterday’s ACTU Executive meeting, which committed the ACTU to assemble stakeholders from business, unions and the political sphere to identify opportunities to save the critical local industry.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said it was a no-brainer for the ACTU and its affiliates to step in to protect Australia’s vital shipping industry.

“It would be a mistake to think the Abbott Government would do anything to protect Australian jobs given its track record,” Ms Kearney said.

“Seafarers are the latest victims – following auto manufacturing workers and many others – who have lost their jobs at the hands of the Abbott Government.

“As I said to the recently sacked Alexander Spirit crew in Devonport – we have stood with the MUA before and we will stand with the MUA again in this fight.”

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin congratulated the ACTU on taking a leading role in protecting Australian jobs in the face of Government inaction.

“After a period of industry stability and genuine review and reform, the Abbott Government since their election has reinitiated an attack on the right for Australian seafarers to work on Australian domestic shipping routes by having a complete hands-off approach to companies rorting the current regulations,” Mr Crumlin said.

“Not content with this alone the Government then went on a full-on assault in announcing its intention to completely deregulate the industry which will allow foreign ships of shame, with $2 an hour seafarers, onto domestic routes, against all their rhetoric in regards to national security and environmental protection.

“Australia, as an island nation is extremely dependent on shipping and at the current rate there will not be a single Australian working in one of Australia’s biggest industries in the next decade. We will be a nation almost totally reliant on shipping for our economic future without a single national seafarer.

“We strongly appeal to the Federal Government, State governments and opposition parties along with genuine stakeholders in the Australian shipping industry to join into securing this essential national industry and it’s highly skilled, security-screened and Australian resident workforce.”