The ACTU today accused international shipping company CSL of using a sneaky corporate trick to sack the embattled crew of the bulk carrier CSL Yarra and replace them with cheap foreign labour.

The ship’s owners, CSL Australia, yesterday revealed they had sold the CSL Yarra to a related company, CSL Asia, and re-registered it in the Bahamas as a flag-of-convenience ship that does not have to pay Australian wages or taxes.

The Australian crew have refused to leave the CSL Yarra since it docked at Port Pirie in South Australia last week, fearing that they will be replaced by cheap foreign workers from the Ukraine.

‘Australians are sick and tired of big companies using elaborate corporate structures to avoid their responsibilities, whether to employees or the tax office,’ ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today.

‘We have seen this type of fancy corporate trickery on the waterfront before and it’s time the Federal Government stopped multinational companies destroying the Australian shipping industry.’

Ms Burrow said Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister John Anderson could help save the jobs of the CSL Yarra crew and hundreds of other Australian seafarers by not issuing permits to foreign flag-of-convenience ships used to replace Australian ships on domestic routes.

‘Other countries like Britain and the US act to limit the use of flag-of convenience vessels, but the Howard Government has issued more and more permits for these ships of shame to work in Australia with low-wage foreign crews on sub-standard conditions,’ Ms Burrow said.