The ACTU is calling for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss to come clean on what they knew about Alcoa’s dramatic “guerrilla raid” on the MV Portland this morning.

Alcoa’s actions were clearly pre-planned and would not have been possible without the involvement of the Department of Transport and Regional Affairs granting a temporary licence for a foreign ship to operate the Portland’s route and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) clearing the foreign crew to man the vessel.

This raises serious questions about the Government’s complicity in the loss of Australian jobs that must be answered.

The Department of Transport and Regional Affairs, which is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Truss, granted Alcoa a temporary licence to ship cargo from Western Australia to Victoria on a foreign ship, with a foreign crew.

Currently, coastal shipping legislation dictates that ships operating on domestic trade routes have to be Australian flagged and crewed. The intent of the temporary licence is for ships usually engaged in the international trade, but calling into a number of Australian ports.

The ACTU has previously met with all unions concerned to discuss the future of the MV Portland and a resolution was moved at November’s executive condemning Alcoa and demanding the re-instatement of the Australian crew.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly:

“This outrageous escalation from Alcoa is an attack on Australian workers and their families that has no place in a modern Australian workplace.”

“An acceptance that people can be forcibly removed from their place of work in an orchestrated midnight action should send shivers down the spine of all Australian workers.”

“Is this the agile workplace of the future that we have to look forward to under a Turnbull Coalition Government?”

“The Government must come clean on what they have known about Alcoa’s secret plans and why AMSA gave the new crew approval to sail – who was consulted and what consideration was given to the Australian workers woken from their beds, left jobless and stranded.”

“The only reason Alcoa was able to take this action is the Federal Government granted the company a temporary license to ship cargo from Western Australia to Victoria on a new foreign ship with a foreign crew.”

“Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has waved through this plan to sack Australian workers and needs to explain why the Government is not protecting Australian jobs and is instead allowing a return of brutish industrial tactics that belong in the past.”


Media contact: Ben Jessup 0410 632 123