Another week and another case where governments and shipping companies are coming under fire for allowing cheap, foreign labour to continue eroding the local seafaring industry.
Various industry and mainstream media have been watching the Australian maritime industry as local seafarers express major fears over how both employers and government are turning a blind eye to the influx of foreign maritime workers despite the high level of local unemployment.
Whilst shipowners claim that they are under pressure to be competitive in a struggling industry, having to cut costs where possible in order to survive, the Maritime union disagrees, stating this is not the full story as they campaign against the laws that allow $2-per-hour workers from outside the country.
At Seafarers’ Rights International, we’ve been watching how the industry responds to the news, and what effect this has on the Australian and International cabotage regime.
Whilst there is a national shipping regime in place in Australia, and the 457 visa program, many feel these aren’t being properly policed and that companies are easily able to exploit them.
The cabotage regime is in place to protect maritime communities, reduce local unemployment and retain homegrown seafaring skills but there is great unrest in the maritime industry as governments and powerful shipping companies seek to relax or eradicate the laws.
The lobby group, Maritime Industry Australia (MIA), is concerned that it could be too late to change the direction of the shipping industry, stating that job protection hasn’t existed for a long time.
As the ITF Cabotage Taskforce comes together and more continue to lobby and campaign for cabotage to remain, SRI will be conducting research to shed further light on the situation and the benefits of the regime, with a view to protecting the rights of seafarers.