The Australian crew of the bulk carrier CSL Yarra is refusing to leave the ship after being ordered off board today by CSL management, which is planning to sack them and replace them with cheap foreign labour from the Ukraine.

CSL ordered the crew off board after agreeing in the Federal Court today to postpone the sackings until a Full Court hearing on the case later this year.

The crew have refused to leave the ship since it docked yesterday at Port Pirie in South Australia. Unions believe that CSL has flown a crew of Ukrainian workers into Port Pirie in preparation for replacing the Australian workers.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister John Anderson was helping CSL by approving permits for the company to work the Australian coast with foreign-registered ships using cheap foreign labour. CSL plans to re-register the Australian-flagged CSL Yarra in the Bahamas.

“Mr Anderson is actively helping multinational companies like CSL to avoid paying Australian taxes and avoid paying Australian wages while working in Australian waters and in Australian ports. CSL can only proceed with its plans if the Transport Minister issues Continuous Voyage Permits for the CSL Yarra to work the Australian coastline,” Ms Burrow said.

“The livelihoods of hundreds of Australian ship workers are being threatened by Mr Anderson’s policy of issuing more and more permits to foreign vessels to work Australian coastal routes with low-wage foreign crews,” Ms Burrow said.

The number of permits issued to foreign vessels to work in Australian waters has tripled since Mr Anderson became Transport Minister.