18 July 2014 – The chair of the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s offshore task force group today condemned the Australian government’s move to override a Senate vote and allow the use of a maritime crew visa that will undermine working conditions in the country’s offshore oil and gas industry.
His comments came after the Australian government yesterday used a legislative loophole to allow the use of a visa to bring in workers for whom – unlike the normal Australian visas governing this and other sectors – there is no national need and no guarantee of the necessary skills.
Norrie McVicar, ITF offshore task force group chair, commented: “This is an unnecessary and ideologically driven move that will do Australia no good at all. It risks opening a skilled, regulated and nationally important industry up to a laissez fair scramble to cut costs.”
He continued: “Trade unions and their members in the offshore industry rate nothing higher than safety. They will snub this shabby little legislative sleight of hand. We hope that it will be challenged legally in Australia, and stand ready to actively and lawfully reject it.”
ITF president and MUA (Maritime Union of Australia) national secretary Paddy Crumlin stated: “The ideological warriors in the Abbott Government are seeking to take out an entire Australian industry. The Australian people know that opening the back door to cheap foreign labour isn’t the answer. We need to maintain our maritime skills base and ensure the viability of Australian jobs in the offshore sector.” (Further comment from the MUA is available at www.mua.org.au/abbott_government_shows_true_colours_on_foreign_labour