The Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT), situated in Melbourne, Australia, has been declared a Port of Convenience (PoC) by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
Speaking at the ITF’s 44th Congress in Singapore, ITF President Paddy Crumlin echoed union fears that a fatal accident could be imminent at the VICT, with a number of serious safety-related incidents reported by the workforce recently.
Crumlin said: “It is a big step to declare a Port of Convenience but the VICT continues to ignore the entirely justified concerns of its workforce over their safety and shift arrangements.”
The ITF-affiliated MUA has been campaigning against the Philippine port operator ICTSI, which manages the VICT and other terminals on Australia’s waterfront.
Criticisms have also been levelled towards ICTSI over the significant undercutting of rates, conditions and industry standards at its Australian facilities, as well as the shifting of automated port jobs to the Philippines.
In addition to this, the VICT is currently facing legal action over the unlawful sacking of a union delegate and paying wages that undercut the legal minimum wages under the industry award.
Crumlin added: “Globally, ICTSI’s workers are underpaid and overworked, harassed and coerced, and union members often face intimidation in retaliation for raising workplace issues.
“ICTSI has tried to bring its anti-worker business model, that they have run out all over the world, to Australia and we won’t tolerate it.”
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Will Tracey, Deputy National Security of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), also commented: “This workplace is unsafe, and threatens the standards that union activists over generations have built up.
“The MUA thanks the ITF and our brothers and sisters in the international trade union movement for their support in taking this step and declaring the VICT a Port of Convenience.”
Two workers at the VICT terminal were recently hospitalised, and Tracey has asserted that the entire workforce is now fearing more serious accidents following a dramatic increase in working hours.