ITF slams BP

May 15 2015

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has thrown its support behind the ongoing campaign to boost Australia’s fuel security and protect jobs on board BP Shipping’s MR ‘British Loyalty’.

An emergency motion was introduced at a meeting in Perth of the ITF Seafarers’ Section meeting by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

According to a statement from the ITF, BP is dumping the 36 Australian crew of the ’British Loyalty’ this week, replacing them with cheap foreign operators who pay their crew as little as $2 per hour.

It comes as BP cuts an extra 360 Australian jobs this month when it shuts Bulwer Island, which is one of the Australian east coast’s main local suppliers of fuel.

The motion said that the Australian tanker fleet is in crisis with the loss of three ships in the past six months.

"Australia’s reliance on shipping for its supply of petroleum is increasing and therefore Australia needs more ships like the ‘British Loyalty’, which has an outstanding safety and service record. Despite this, the crew on ‘British Loyalty’ were notified in late 2014 that they would be removed from the ship and the ship would be re-deployed internationally," the ITF said.

ITF President and MUA national secretary, Paddy Crumlin, said;“Around 900,000 tonnes of refined product is currently being moved from Kwinana Refinery in Western Australia to Australia’s east coast each year on foreign vessels. This is more than enough to keep the ‘British Loyalty’ working the coast and keep fuel supply in Australian hands so we call on BP to redeploy the vessel.”

US Seafarers International Union (SIU) secretary-treasurer David Heindel said the recent five-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, which involved BP, was a timely reminder that corporations need to employ best practice when it comes to protecting the environment.

"The ‘British Loyalty’ has often sailed along the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the world’s great nature reserves and this pristine environment simply could not be replaced if a disaster occurred," Heindel said.

Despite the Hong Kong-owned MR ‘Atlantic Blue’ running aground on the Great Barrier Reef in 2009, BP was happy to use it for seven domestic voyages along the WA coast in 2014 and 2015, the ITF claimed.

The seafarers serving on board ‘British Loyalty’ are members of three ITF affiliates - the MUA, Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE).

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