CPSU Requests Secretary Intervention In Marine Unit


The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has requested that Home Affairs Secretary, Stephanie Foster, intervene in Australian Border Force’s (ABF) mismanagement of the National Marine Unit (NMU).

The NMU was this week the focus of a media investigation where a light was shone on egregious workplace health and safety (WHS) failures aboard Marine Unit vessels.

These issues, all of which had been raised by the union with ABF, include contaminated drinking water, mould, broken ventilation systems, major fire risks, actual fires, faulty safety equipment, vessel rollovers, ongoing risks of rollovers, and more.

ABF has failed to address concerns raised by the union and proactively locked them out of Workplace Health and Safety discussions.

The CPSU has repeatedly asked ABF management for the right to participate in the Marine WHS Committee, but this has not been agreed to. The union is currently permitted to participate in all other workplace health and safety committees across the Department of Home Affairs.

The union also took the opportunity to raise other vital issues facing the NMU, including plans to fill jobs with outsourced private contractors and ABF’s lack of training and workforce planning, all of which are contributing to recruitment and retention issues.

Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary:

“Our union has repeatedly raised workplace health and safety issues with Australian Border Force, and we have repeatedly been ignored.

“The media investigation into the Marine Unit shone a light on our union’s uphill battle with border force in our mission to make our members safe at work.

“The CPSU should immediately be permitted to participate in the Marine Workplace Health and Safety Committee, which we have so far been denied access to.

“Then there needs to be serious and substantial change in the way ABF manages the Marine Unit.

“Business as usual isn’t an option for ABF anymore.

“This is why I have written to the Secretary of the Department of Home affairs, requesting she step in and protect our members.

“I have outlined in that letter, issues including workplace health and safety, the proliferation of outsourcing and a lack of workforce planning.

“On matters of outsourcing and workplace health and safety, there is no doubt in my mind that the introduction of a profit motive into the maintenance of Cape Class vessels has compromised these vessels and the safety of the mariners aboard them.

“Where there should be people making safety decisions for our Mariners, there are people making business decisions.

“However, not only is ABF failing to protect workers in the Marine Unit, but they have also failed to plan for the future. There is no workplace planning, no recruitment or retention strategies, and they aren’t adequately upskilling their current workforce to address current or emerging skills shortages.

“ABF has proven they are not capable of managing this workforce, let alone fixing it.

“In order for these workers to safely and sustainably do the job they are being asked to do, both now and into the future, things must urgently change.

/Public Release. View in full here.