Queensland fuel barge crew running on empty – industrial action to follow Brisbane employer’s refusal to negotiate

Media Release

Maritime Union of Australia

Queensland Branch

12 June 2024

Queensland fuel barge crew running on empty – industrial action to follow Brisbane employer’s refusal to negotiate

The crew of the Champion 63 fuel barge are running on empty after bargaining for a new enterprise agreement has stalled. Members of the Australian Maritime Officers Union, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, and the Maritime Union of Australia voted up protected industrial action on 11 June 2024.

The crews have been trying to formalise their employment conditions with ASP Ship Management since the bunkering operations commenced in February 2023. It took ASP approximately six months to issue the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (“NERR”) and start bargaining.

The Champion 63 fuel barge regularly supplies cruise vessels while in port at Brisbane.

“The crew of the new bunker barge on the Brisbane River and the maritime unions bent over backwards to make this vessel work,” said MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Gallagher.

“Including low wages, excessive hours and a roster that does not allow crew to take leave. 18 months down the track when it comes time for BP to reward their crew and pay industry standards what do they do? They deny them fair wages, a workable roster and threaten their back pay!”

The AMOU filed a bargaining dispute after ASP refused to take their claim for a roster that does not demand that crews work every weekend seriously.

“Having to work every weekend because ASP does not have suitable relief arrangements is unacceptable,” said AMOU Industrial Officer Tracey Ellis.

“Crews have a right to be rostered time off to spend with their family. Waiting for ASP to fix the issue did not work, filing a Bargaining Dispute in the Fair Work Commission did not work, so the crews will take protected industrial action until their concerns are taken seriously.”

The crews onboard the Champion 63 voted up an unlimited number of stoppages of work of between one hour and 48 hours.

Mr Gallagher added that, “the Maritime unions will not tolerate the big multinational fuel barons of this world undermining the Australian maritime wages and conditions of 7 local mariners who are trying their best to support our own local shipping and Cruise Ship industry. If your cruise holiday gets delayed it is because, after recording over $40 billion profit in last two years, BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low.”

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