Australia Melbourne wharfies stood down after refusing to unload Chinese ship

04:12  01 april  2020
04:12  01 april  2020 Source:   theage.com.au

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Wharfies who refused to unload a container ship from China because they feared it was contaminated with deadly coronavirus are Staff at a Melbourne dock were stood down after they refused to unload a ship . The ship landed after travelling from China and Taiwan 12 days earlier.

The Maritime Union of Australia held a four-hour stop work meeting of wharfies from across the three Newcastle stevedoring companies and unanimously resolved to refuse to unload a new bulk- unloading crane which they believe will cost jobs.

a crowded beach on a sunny day: Swanson Dock foreground and Webb Dock background make up The Port of Melbourne Monday 13 April 2008. Picture by Craig Abraham The Age  AFR 13-11-2013 © Craig Abraham Swanson Dock foreground and Webb Dock background make up The Port of Melbourne Monday 13 April 2008. Picture by Craig Abraham The Age AFR 13-11-2013

A ship from China carrying toilet paper, surgical masks and tinned food is sitting fully laden on Melbourne's docks with wharfies refusing to unload the cargo due to fears they could catch coronavirus.

In the largest dispute to hit the Port of Melbourne since the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 60 dock workers have been stood down by stevedores DP World in the past 24 hours over their refusal to unload the Xin Da Lian, which left a Taiwanese port less than 14 days ago.

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Chinese Herald. Staff at Wellington's CentrePort have been ordered to unload a ship they had blacklisted after it was loaded by non-union workers in Auckland. Their lawyer said earlier what they were doing was noble and dignified, taking a stand against the way workers were being treated by

Ports of Auckland managers are refusing to allow nearly 300 wharfies to go back to work for a week, after a meeting with Maritime Union officials Ports of Auckland issued its lockout notice a day after it scrapped plans to make all 292 union workers redundant and replace them with contracted stevedores.

The ship sailed from mainland China on March 17, continued on to Koashiung in Taiwan and then headed to Melbourne two days later.

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The Xin Da Lian docked in Melbourne at Swanson Dock on Tuesday. A group of wharfies refused to unload the cargo on Tuesday night as the ship had arrived before the end of the 14-day coronavirus quarantine period.

Twenty two workers were stood down amid the stand-off between the Maritime Union of Australia and the stevedore on Tuesday and another 40 were stood down on Wednesday.

DP World argued the Australian Border Force deemed the vessel compliant and the 14-day rule only applies to ships from mainland China, the Republic of Korea, Italy and Iran.

The company said chemicals for soap and detergent manufacturing, medical supplies, surgical masks, gloves surgical gowns, lab coats and hair nets are aboard the ship now sitting idle at the port. Tinned foods for supermarkets and whitegoods were also being transported.

DP World's chief operating officer Andrew Adam said the vessel had been cleared to berth at DP World by the Australian Border Force and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's Biosecurity.

"The directions are very clear, and we don't make the rules, these are defined by Australian Border Force. Any crew members aboard a vessel that has been to mainland China, must have been at sea for 14 days before they are allowed to dock in Australia," Mr Adam said.

"The vessel left Shanghai in China on March 17 and arrived in Melbourne on March 31. It has been out of sea for 14 days. The union is not allowed to unilaterally declare a vessel unsafe: they are not allowed to create their own set of rules."

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But Warren Smith, the union's assistant national secretary, said all vessels should be quarantined for a 14-day period if they arrive from an overseas port and it was wrong to stand down workers who were trying to prevent the spread of the virus.

"It is ridiculous that these workers have been stood down and had their livelihoods threatened for standing up and doing the right thing," Mr Smith said.

"Waterside workers need to be protected to the absolute maximum extent possible so the supply chains into the supermarkets can be maintained ... the workers are simply saying we want some protections here."

The Australian Border Force has been approached for comment.

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