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Thursday, 17 May 1973
Page: 2356

Mr Garland asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:

(1)   Has the Waterside Workers' Federation refused to turn around ships in Australian ports, apparently on the ground that their seamen have remuneration and conditions less than those set by the International Transport Workers' Federation.

(2)   If that is not a correct statement of the position, what is the position.

(3)   If the position is as stated, (a) how many ships have been delayed, (b) on how many occasions and (c) for how many days in each case.

(4)   What was the cost of these delays.

(5)   How many passengers (a) were delayed and inconvenienced and (b) had their passages cancelled.

(6)   Can he say whether the Singapore Organisation of Seamen has indicated that it does not wish these delays to take place and that they are creating mora harm than good to the Singapore seamen.

(7)   Can he also say whether these stoppages are part of a campaign to raise the level of wages and conditions of seamen engaged on ships of various nationalities, until they reach a standard acceptable to the Waterside Workers' Federation.

(8)   If these demands are enforced, will it result in greatly increased freight rates which will dwarf freight rises as a result of wage increases to Australian waterside workers and affect all exporters, particularly the fruit industry and refrigerated cargo exported to our fast-growing South-East Asian market.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am advised that the answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes. Members of the Waterside Workers' Federation and other maritime unions have on a number of occasions, withheld labour for cargo handling or berthing facilities from vessels the crews of which have been in receipt of wage rates below levels specified by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

(2)   See answer to No. (1) above.

(3)   , (4) and (5) No records are available which would enable the information requested to be supplied. However delays to which individual vessels have been subjected have usually been less than a week.

(6)   Recently, the WWF Branch in Fremantle refused to supply labour to certain vessels flying the Singapore flag. This action was discontinued when it became known that the Singapore Government had set up an inquiry into wage rates and conditions for seamen on vessels of Singapore nationality. Presumably the Singapore Organisation of Seamen has no present grounds for concern on this matter.

(7)   The actions of the Waterside Workers' Federation have been in support of a campaign sanctioned by the ITF and aimed at improving wages and working conditions of seafarers throughout the world. The Waterside Workers' Federation has taken such industrial action in its capacity as agent of the ITF in the Pacific region.

(8)   It is expected that any increase in freight rates brought about by Asian shipowners paying higher wages will apply equally to all traders who use the shipping services concerned.

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