March 31 ------ The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has urged major businesses in Australia’s maritime supply chain to implement “a consistent, industry-wide framework” aimed at preventing coronavirus transmission on worksites. With approximately 98 per cent of Australian imports arriving by sea, including essential medical supplies, food, fuel, and other household items, preventing the spread of this disease is vital to ensuring supply chains remain operational and freight continues to flow safely. According to the trade union, some Australian businesses, particularly stevedores, have been reluctant to meet and discuss the current situation.
“While workers are acutely aware of the significant role they play in Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some stevedores had taken an unfortunate and unsustainable approach, going it alone rather than embracing a consistent industry-wide solution,” MUA National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin said. “In other areas, such as intermodal and logistics, there has been a much more mature approach. That is why we are seeking to urgently meet with key businesses, in particular stevedores, to implement a clear, concise, consistent framework that addresses the identifiable health and safety risks this pandemic poses and acts on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer. The scale of this crisis places a collective responsibility on our vital industry to show leadership, find consensus, and implement immediate solutions that protect lives and prevent potential disruptions to our national supply chain,” Crumlin added.
With thousands of maritime workers — including wharfies, seafarers and port workers — being on the front line, committed to ensuring supply chains continue to operate smoothly, the industry-wide measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on worksites are necessary, MUA believes. “We are urging all maritime employers to work with us to implement these protocols to minimize the risk of infection to workers or the general public.” The union’s proposed framework has been drawn together based on current health advice, along with industry developments internationally, with the aim of ensuring best-practice measures are in place to protect the health and safety of maritime workers.