Canadian and Australian seafarers stand up and fight back to strengthen protections for maritime workers
FEBRUARY 11, 2019 – OTTAWA ONT – The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) stands strongly behind Australia’s maritime workers as they fight for the implementation of legislation protecting domestic seafarers. Today, Seafarers from across Canada joined together to rally in solidarity as their Australian counterparts’ protest government inaction and negligence.
Canadian seafarers demonstrated in Toronto and Ottawa to show support for Australian seafarers with the goal to “Save Aussie Shipping.” The protests were livestreamed in Australia alongside rallies held in Canberra, Melbourne and Port Kembla. Approximately 100 Canadian sailors collectively called on the Australian government to Australian Government to enact cabotage laws that will ensure domestic maritime workers are protected
“Today’s demonstration shows the strength of Seafarers across the globe, says James Given, Chair of the International Transportation Workers Federation (ITF) and President of the SIU of Canada. “Whether from Australia, Canada or elsewhere, we are the brothers and sisters of the sea, and we fight to protect our own.”
Unlike several other jurisdictions, including Canada, Australia has failed to enact Cabotage Law which ensures domestic workers are protected. Earlier this year 80 Australian seafarers were laid off without notice, in favor of cheap foreign labour. Without Cabotage laws, these practices are perfectly legal, and maritime workers are concerned layoffs will continue.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Given met with the Deputy High Commissioner of Australia in Ottawa where he passed on the message that the Australian government must act to protect its workers, and seafarers around the world are standing in solidarity with Australians.
“The lack protection for Australian seafarers has an impact on mariners around the globe,” says Given. As champions of workers’ rights, we cannot stand by and allow any government to fail hardworking seafarers. We will always stand up and fight back.”
In January, a delegation from Australia visited Canada to learn about Canada’s domestic maritime policy, which is regarded as one of the best in the world. The unfortunate situation in Australia demonstrates the importance of ensuring these laws are protected at home. Canada cannot waiver in its commitment to protecting thousands of maritime workers.
About the SIU of Canada: The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) is affiliated with the Seafarers’ International Union of North America serving unlicensed sailors since 1938. The most important sailors’ union in Canada, the SIU represents the majority of unlicensed sailors working aboard vessels on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, on the East and West Coasts.
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