(updated 10 08 22)

Minister slams Svitzer rort

(uploaded 10 08 2022)

In an address to the business lobby Australian Business Group on 8th August the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Mr Tony Burke has slammed Svitzer Australia and its actions in applying for termination of the existing Enterprise Agreement. Here is an extract from that speech:

"But an area that I’m increasingly concerned about and is timely today is the ability of business to make unilateral cuts to workers’ pay and conditions by the termination of agreements. I know this is an issue which will be further discussed at the summit, but I think it’s only fair that you get a very clear sense of my disposition on this issue. 

My starting point on face value is I cannot see how the tactic can be justified. The solution to a decade of wage stagnation cannot include a loophole which instead of stagnation causes wages to go backwards. Now, to be clear, I don’t seek to interfere with cases before the Fair Work Commission under current law. The commission’s job is to apply the current law. My job is to make sure the current law is justified and fit for purpose. 

Now, one of the disputes currently before the commission is under these very provisions where Svitzer is seeking to terminate an agreement covering its tugboat operators across Australian ports. If the termination goes ahead I’m advised it could result in pay cuts to the workforce of 40 per cent or more. So at a time we’re wanting to end wage stagnation, where we’re wanting to have a serious conversation about how do we get wages moving, on my desk I’m getting briefings about a section of the workforce potentially facing pay cuts of 40 per cent. 

Now, who are these workers? They’re the same workers who you’ll remember seeing them on the TV. And we were all applauding them saying, “Extraordinary what they’re doing.” They were putting their lives on the line to save a bulk carrier and its crew that was stranded off the coast of Sydney after a cable had snapped. They were treacherous images. The New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet described the work of these crews as heroic and incredibly impressive. And rightly so. 

But even where workers don’t make it into the news, the principle remains the same. If we have a national objective to get wages moving, a tactic that allows for 40 per cent pay cuts is not fair and it’s not in the national interest. As someone whose job is to determine whether the workplace relations framework is fit for purpose, I see this as a way to get out of freely bargained obligations, something we would not accept in the world of commercial or consumer contracts. It's more than a loophole; it’s a rort. And I’m disgusted that it’s even being tried. On this issue I reckon you’ve got my disposition now. 

Now, there may be room for a narrow exception, and I want to have this conversation – I’m sure it will come under the summit – where businesses that are, for example, facing imminent collapse where agreement terminations are likely on the evidence to ensure the ongoing employment of the affected workers. But that sort of discussion about where there might be an exception I’m on for. But simply permission for unilateral termination and wage cuts I’m not interested in".

To read the full speech click on the link below:

Minister Tony Burke slams Svitzer rorts 08 08 22.pdf Minister Tony Burke slams Svitzer rorts 08 08 22.pdf

Back off Svitzer

(uploaded 10 08 2022)

The three maritime unions held a rare joint national meeting of members to hear an update on the dispute with Svitzer over the company's application to termination the current [2016] Enterprise Agreement.

The joint stopwork meeting of Svitzer tug employees members of the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE), the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA/CFMMEU) was held on Friday 5th August to provide feedback about the long running dispute with Svitzer over the company application to terminate the current Enterprise Agreement and drive members conditions down to the legal minimum.

The current national Enterprise Agreement commenced in early 2016 and the unions have been negotiating with Svitzer since late 2019 to secure a replacement Agreement. So far this has proved impossible. In early 2020 Svitzer used the cover of the Covid pandemic to stall the process and then served up a list of 30 claims to reduce pay and conditions for their employees. The company claims would force tug crews to work longer hours and accept shorter breaks all of which will lead to greater fatigue in the 24/7 sector. The company also wants part time and casual employees to work for drastically reduced rates of pay. When the company put a similar proposal out to its employees to vote in 2021 it was rejected by 92% of the worker.

Subsequently, in early 2022 Svitzer applied to terminate the Enterprise Agreement which has generated another battle away from the bargaining table and instead at the Fair Work Commission with lawyers arguing the toss. The three unions are vigorously opposing the termination application.

During this whole protracted and frustrating exercise, rates of pay for the tug crews have been frozen. The covid pandemic impacted of towage operations for three months in 2020 but ever since the tugs have been assisting a strong and growing level of shipping around almost all ports.

Like parent company Maersk, Svitzer Australia is reaping in strong revenues and generating solid profits but it seem clear that there has been a corporate decision the exploit the pandemic to drive down tug workers pay and conditions.

The national stopwork meeting was conducted by videoconference and was attended by over 200 members in various locations including from tugboats, in union rooms and from members homes. The meeting was addressed by ACTU Secretary Sally McManus who reported on the recent Workers Delegation to Parliament which took the message to MPs that the Fair Work Act needs to change because it is not fair on workers as it is being used now.

The meeting reports also received reports from officials of the three unions and then several Svitzer employees spoke to three separate resolutions calling for Svitzer to back off, for the Federal Government to act and for the Svitzer global CEO to get involved and resolve the negotiations which have been running for three years.

Resolution 1:

This combined meeting of Svitzer tugboat employees calls on Svitzer Australia to withdraw its application to terminate the Svitzer Australia Pty Limited National Towage Enterprise Agreement 2016. Members of AIMPE, AMOU and MUA support the call of the three unions for Svitzer to use its time, resources and what’s left of its good name to resume enterprise bargaining with its workforce under the Fair Work Act.

Moved: Ken Blackband AMOU

Seconded: John Hartree AIMPE


Resolution 2:

This combined meeting of Svitzer tugboat employees calls on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to amend the Fair Work Act to make enterprise bargaining fairer for workers - as proposed by the ACTU. Most importantly, members of AIMPE, AMOU and MUA call for amendments to prohibit employers from seeking to terminate Enterprise Agreements in the sole pursuit of lessening workers’ pay and conditions.

Moved: Evan James AIMPE

Seconded: Tony Nealen MUA


Resolution 3:

The combined meeting of Svitzer tugboat employees calls on Svitzer Global CEO Kasper Nils to join, in person, with the Svitzer Australia management team and take immediate steps to resume EBA negotiations to achieve a fair and mutually agreeable outcome, giving tugboat workers certainty in their employment with dignified wages and conditions.

Moved: Rob Paterson MUA

Seconded: Vince Miragliotta AMOU


AIMPE joins Canberra delegation  

(uploaded 10 08 2022)

AIMPE Federal Councillors Evan James (Svitzer Port Kembla) and Peter de Szoeke (Svitzer Sydney) participated in the ACTU workers delegation to Federal Parliament on 2nd & 3rd August.

The delegation was put together after discussions about the need to get the message to Canberra that the Fair Work Act needs to be changed.

The clearest example for AIMPE members at the moment is the use of the Termination of the Enterprise Agreement application by Svitzer.

This was the message that Evan and Peter gave to the numerous MPs that they talked with in Parliament.

Maritime Unions call for new Training Program

(uploaded 10 08 2022)

The three maritime unions have called on the Minister for Skills and Training to set up a new National Maritime Industry Training program.

The call was made in a letter signed by the leaders of the three unions - AIMPE AMOU & MUA/CFMMEU.

A national maritime industry training program needs to be established as a matter of urgent priority.

Labour supply issues have been identified by the industry survey published by MIAL in 2019 [Seafaring Skill Census]. The demographic profile of the maritime workforce in 2019 signalled a looming crisis as a wave of retirements appears like a tsunami. The situation has only worsened since 2019 – exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The text of the letter can be read here:

National Maritime Industry Training program letter to Minister OConnor.pdf National Maritime Industry Training program letter to Minister OConnor.pdf.


Global Seafarer - July 2022 edition

(uploaded 28 07 2022)

Global Seafarer is the digital newspaper of the Nautilus Federation - the UK-based international group formed by maritime officers' unions from around the world - including AIMPE.

In this edition there is an article about the incident involving the rescue of the Portland Bay on 4th July south of Sydney.

Here is the link to the July edition:

JULY 2022 Global Seafarer.pdf JULY 2022 Global Seafarer.pdf

Maritime Unions joint submission on Seacare

(uploaded 07 06 22)

The three maritime unions have lodged a joint submission on the future of Seacare to the review currently being conduct by Finity on behalf of the Federal Government.

This latest review is being held in response to the developing problem of private insurance companies refusing to write new insurance policies for maritime employers in relation to sefarers covered by Seacare.

The joint submission calls for an employers mutual indemnity association to step into the breach.

This is provided for in the existing Seacare legislation but has not been activated in the past.

Here is a copy of the joint submission:

Maritime unions joint submission - Seacare review.pdf Maritime unions joint submission - Seacare review.pdf



Federal Election - major party shipping policies

(uploaded 13 05 2022)

The ALP and The Nationals have released policies which indicate support for positive policies for Australian shipping.

The ALP policy supports a Strategic fleet. This is not unlike the joint AIMPE/AMOU proposal for a coastal tanker fleet and could in fact start with tankers but the actual committment is to establish a taskforce to consider the Strategic fleet. Here is the ALP policy:

Labors_plan_for_a_Strategic_Fleet.pdf Labors_plan_for_a_Strategic_Fleet.pdf

The Nationals policy states that they will act within 6 months if elected to increase Australia's sovereign maritime capacity. This sounds good. When you read on further it provides for tax cuts but also mentions employment for workers from regional countries and cutting red tape for shipping companies. Here is The Nationals policy:

Deputy Prime Minister maritime capability.pdf Deputy Prime Minister maritime capability.pdf

Global Seafarer - April 2022 edition

(uploaded 05 05 2022)

Global Seafarer is the digital newspaper of the Nautilus Federation - the UK-based international group formed by maritime officers' unions from around the world - including AIMPE.

Here is the latest edition for members interested in what is happening around the world:

22.04 April Global Seafarer.pdf 22.04 April Global Seafarer.pdf

Stopping the race to the bottom - ITF tug campaign

(uploaded 01 04 22)

Over recent years AIMPE has been fighting moves by tug companies in Australia to reduce pay and conditions in ports around the coast.

AIMPE, MUA and the AMOU have been resisting Svitzer's attempts to remove or reduce a range of conditions in the current national Enterprise Agreement. This struggle has been going on since late 2019. Svitzer's extreme drive to reduce conditions has reached the stage where they have applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the national EA - the same EA that they forced onto AIMPE members in 2016 despite our strenuous objections including protected industrial action.

At the same time AIMPE and AMOU have been opposing a push by Smit to reduce conditions in the Port of Gladstone in central Queensland. Again Smit have applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the current port-based Enterprise Agreement.

AIMPE has made arrangements with specialised industrial lawyers to fight both termination applications.

Both Svitzer and Smit are subsidiaries of international maritime conglomerates which have orchestrated a global push to reduce workers pay and conditions while at the same time profiting massively from the COVID-19 pandemic and the supply problems that have emerged around the world over the last two years. Svitzer is part of the Maersk group which has recently announce single year profits of $24 Billion! Smit is owned by the Boskalis group.

Now the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has launched a new campaign to stop the race to the bottom in the tug sector. This is a global response to a global problem. The campaign has many aspects and a YouTube video is one part of the campaign. The video highlights a 2021 instance where two tugboat workers lost their lives after being order to take a barge to sea in treacherous weather.

Take the time to look at the ITF campaign video:

Silent no more: overworked tugboat workers are reaching breaking point | ITF Global


A Safe and Secure Tug Sector

The ITF has also prepared a position paper which not only draws attention to the actions of towage companies in various countries around the world (including here in Australia) it also calls for greater protections for maximum hours of work and minimum rest breaks and better enforcement of these standards. The ITF is also calling for greater accountability and transparency in a sector which is dominated by global shipping corporations.

Here is the ITF position paper "Stopping the Race to the Bottom":

Stopping the Race to the Bottom  ITF Inland Navigation Tug and Towage Paper 2022.pdf Stopping the Race to the Bottom ITF Inland Navigation Tug and Towage Paper 2022.pdf

ITF calls out Svitzer

(uploaded 16 03 22)

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has called out Svitzer's behaviour in applying to terminate its Enterprise Agreement in Australia. The ITF addressed a meeting of Maersk shareholders in Copenhagen on 15th March and pointed out to the meeting that:

Svitzer management in Australia went against Maersk’s professed global commitments to uphold collective bargaining and has applied to Australia’s Fair Work Commission to terminate its long-standing collective bargaining agreement with the three Australian maritime unions covering hundreds of workers.

The ITF also identified that Svitzer in the Netherlands has established a second entity that is undermining workers' collective bargaining rights and further that in at least one major port in the UK Svitzer has imposed a wage freeze on its tug employees.

All this has happened in a period when the parent group A P Moller-Maersk has reported an eye-watering $24 billion profit extracted from the global economy during the worst pandemic in a century.

Here is the ITF Statement to the Maersk group about Svitzer's behaviour:

ITF Statement to AP Moller-Maersk Annual General Meeting 2022.pdf ITF Statement to AP Moller-Maersk Annual General Meeting 2022.pdf

Sign the ITF petition about Svitzer

(uploaded 16 03 22)

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has issued a petition calling on Maersk and Svitzer to stop the attacks on pay and conditions for Svitzer tug employees.

All members are urged to support the ITF petition.

Here is a link to the ITF petition:

✍️ SIGN: Call on Svitzer to stop attacking tug workers (

Australia's Maritime border re-opened

(uploaded 07 03 22)

The Australian maritime border has been efectively re-opened - coinciding with the re-opening of international air travel to and from Australia.

On Friday 4th March Australia Border Force issued the notice below advising that the previous restrictions have been removed.

Almost two years after the Federal Government closed down travel to and from Australia due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the ABF announcement is a significant step towards a return to normal.

However as the ABF advice does state "crew entry is at the discretion of the jurisdiction of arrival".

This means each State/Territory rules apply and need to be checked.

WA has of course been the State with the hardest border closure.

WA has issued new Border Opening Directions and while vaccination and testing requirements are still in force, travel to and from WA is now much more open.

AGM brought forward

(uploaded 28 02 22)



 Tuesday 24th May


 The Annual General Meeting of the AIMPE will be held on Tuesday 24th May at the usual Branch meeting locations.


This follows a decision of the Federal Council to bring the meeting forward from the usual last Tuesday of the month.  The reason for taking this decision was because the 2022 Federal Council will be held on 1st, 2nd and 3rd June. There would be very little time between the AGM and the Federal Council if the AGM was on Tuesday 31st May.


Martin Byrne

Federal President

DCV Review

(uploaded 17 02 22)

The Federal Government has initiated an independent review of the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety (National System) and the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (National Law).

This review has a very tight timeframe with public submissions closing on 30th March. AIMPE will be making a submission and all interested members are invited to forward their thoughts to our Director of Professional Standards Mr Henning Christiansen

The information paper can be found here:

Independent Review of Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety Legislation Consultation Aid.pdf Independent Review of Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety Legislation Consultation Aid.pdf

Shorten supports strategic fleet

(uploaded 17 02 22)

Former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has renewed his call for an Australian strategic fleet. In the context of the washout of the east west railway lines Shorten wrote a major opinion piece for the West Australian newspaper arguing that the solution to the problem can be found in the strategic fleet policy.

Here is the article:

Bill Shorten article West Australian 1579210005.pdf Bill Shorten article West Australian 1579210005.pdf

Welcome Nuyina !

(uploaded 21 10 21)

Welcome to the new Antarctic Research and Supply ship Nuyina. Nuyina replaces the Aurora Australis which supplied Australia's Antarctic bases for over 30 years before it was withdrawn from service last year.

Motoring up the Derwent                                       Photo: Daniel Blight

The RSV Nuyina sailed up an overcast Derwent River and into Hobart on Saturday 16 October. With the city having been placed into lockdown the previous day, the planned welcoming flotilla had to be cancelled, but the Tugs were decked out in flags for its arrival.

Approaching Hobart accompanied by Tasport Tugs   Photo: Daniel Blight

With a height of 50m it will certainly dominate the Hobart sky line. The word Nuyina means “southern lights’ in Palawa Kani, the local Tasmanian Aboriginal language. The Nuyina was built by the Damen Group at its Romanian shipyard to Polar Class 3 standard from a design developed by Danish naval architects Knud E Hansen. It was towed to the Netherlands for its final fit out. It can accommodate 117 passengers and 32 crew and up to four helicopters.

Nuyina Engineers - delivery crew and relief crew. Photo: Scott Barnett

Nuyina Engineroom                                       Photo: Scott Barnett

Nuyina is one of the world’s most modern ice-breaker vessels. Rather than ramming, the bow has been designed to bend and slice through the ice, offering around a 60 per cent increase in ice-breaking performance.

AIMPE wishes Nuyina and all who sail on her the very best over the decades ahead.

Further Appeal to WA Premier

(uploaded 22 10 21)

Under the banner of the Nautilus Federation of Australia, AIMPE and AMOU have again appealed to the WA Premier Mr Mark McGowan about the need to allow Australian seafarers to travel into and out of WA to keep freight moving.

The WA Government seems to be set on keeping its hard border closure to NSW, Victoria and the ACT even though numbers have dropped considerably in NSW over recent weeks. 

While the hard border closure may be popular among the WA voters, it is causing huge problems for ship operators who need to be able to fly crews in and out to keep their ships moving. Trident LNG is even considering a temporary withdrawal of one of its ships because of the current problems.

The letter is here:

Possible withdrawal of LNG Tanker 19 10 21.pdf Possible withdrawal of LNG Tanker 19 10 21.pdf

Industry call to ease COVID travel restrictions

(uploaded 27 09 21)

The maritime unions and the major maritime employer groups have come together to call on the Federal Government to ease the restrictions applying to maritime personnel who need to travel inter-State.

AIMPE, AMOU and the CFMMEU/MUA have sent a joint letter together with MIAL and AMMA to the Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce calling for the easing of the travel restrictions.

The Federal, State and Territory Transport Ministers have approved the Freight Movement Protocol and Code for road and rail workers – but this does not include maritime crews. The maritime industry groups have requested that the Freight Movement protocol be extended to maritime crews who need to travel inter-State or that a separate protocol be adopted along the same lines.

A copy of the joint letter can be read here:

Joint letter to Barnaby Joyce AIMPE AMOU MIAL AMMA MUA.pdf Joint letter to Barnaby Joyce AIMPE AMOU MIAL AMMA MUA.pdf

Appeal to WA Premier

(uploaded 27 09 21)

Under the banner of the Nautilus Federation of Australia, AIMPE and AMOU have appealed to the WA Premier Mr Mark McGowan about the consequences of the continuing hard border restrictions applying to seafarers who live in the eastern States.

The longer the restrictions keep being enforced the harder it is for operators to find the people to keep their vessels moving.

This is in contrast to the road and rail sectors where there are established protocols which allow for continuing entry into WA to keep freight moving. The problem is slightly different for seafarers who fly to WA to work on vessels which work in and out of WA ports. Most of this work does not move freight into WA but it is vital to keeping freight moving out of WA including iron ore, LNG, oil, grain, salt, alumina, mineral sands and other vital exports.

AIMPE and AMOU are concerned that there may be a renewed push from operators to attempt to bring in more foreign labour if WA’s hard border restrictions on travel from the eastern State are not eased.

Vaccination rates are increasing steadily around Australia with NSW & ACT already over 80% single dose, Victoria and Tasmania over 70% single dose and SA and Queensland over 60% single dose. Based on the current rates of vaccination the targets of 70% double dose and 80% double dose will be achieved in October and November.

Here is a copy of the letter:

Nautilus Letter to WA Premier McGowan 20 09 21.pdf Nautilus Letter to WA Premier McGowan 20 09 21.pdf

Offshore Wind submission

(uploaded 23 09 21)

Australia has lagged behind Europe in the development of Offshore Wind energy.

Now the Federal Minister for Energy Hon Angus Taylor has tabled new Bills in Federal Pariament which, if adopted, will lay the foundations for the development of Offshore Winds farms in Australia.

This could be a major growth area for AIMPE members employment into the future.

AIMPE and AMOU have made a joint submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee in relation to the Inquiry into the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Bill 2021 and Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021.

The AIMPE/AMOU submission calls for the Senate Committee to recommend a number of changes to the legislation before the Parliament. The first recommendation is to ensure that the vessels that work on Offfshore Electricity projects should be Australian registered:

“That the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Bill 2021 and Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 be amended to include provisions which require licence holders to ensure the use of Australian registered vessels for any maritime activities in relation to offshore electricity infrastructure which are of greater than three months duration. Foreign registered vessels should not be permitted to be used for any maritime activities in relation to offshore electricity infrastructure which are likely to be of greater than three months duration.”

The second recommendation in the AIMPE/AMOU submission relates to training and seeks that maritime training should be a licence condition for all companies developing Offshore Electricity projects [including Offshore Wind farms]:

“That the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Bill 2021 and Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 be amended to include provisions which require licence holders to require all participating companies to provide maritime training to ensure the availability of sufficient numbers of qualified Australian Masters, Engineer and Deck Officers to operate all vessels required for the foreseeable Offshore Electricity Infrastructure development.”

To read the full AIMPE/AMOU submission click below:

AIMPE AMOU submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 17 09 21.pdf AIMPE AMOU submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 17 09 21.pdf

Here are the two Bills if you want to read futher:

Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 21121b01.pdf Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 21121b01.pdf

OEI Regulatory Levies Bill 2021 21122b01.pdf OEI Regulatory Levies Bill 2021 21122b01.pdf

To continue to follow this issue you might also like to check out the other submissions which have been made to the Senate Committee Inquiry.

Here is a link to the webpage for the Inquiry:

Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Bill 2021 and Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 – Parliament of Australia (

It is good to see that both the MUA/ETU submission and the ACTU submission also call for vessels involved in Offshore Electricity Infrastructure be Australian registered:

"Require the use of Australian ships for construction and operations, and require they be Regulated Australian Vessels under the Navigation Act"

Merchant Navy Day - 3rd September

The Australian Red Ensign is flown on 3rd September each year on Merchant Navy Day in commemoration of the contribution of the Australian Merchant Navy in times of war. The Federal Government records that the history of the Red Ensign and the Blue Ensign is as follows:

The Commonwealth ensigns

In 1903 King Edward VII approved two designs for the flag of Australia: the Commonwealth blue ensign, and the Commonwealth red ensign, for the merchant Navy.

However, people were confused about the use of two Australian flags. The blue ensign was meant to be for official and naval purposes and the red ensign was meant to be used by the merchant fleet, but the general public began using the red ensign on land.

Proclamation: the Flags Act 1953

In 1941, Prime Minister the Rt Hon Robert Menzies issued a press statement recommending the flying of the blue ensign as a national emblem. The Flags Act 1953 subsequently proclaimed the Australian blue ensign as the Australian National Flag and the Australian red ensign as the flag for merchant ships registered in Australia

Other official Australian flags include the Australian Aboriginal Flag, the Torres Strait Islander Flag and the ensigns of the Australian Defence Force.

Special Meeting on 27th July to consider seven further rule changes

(uploaded 15 07 21)

Notice is given to all AIMPE members that there will be a Special Meeting of the Institute on 27th July to consider seven further rule changes to update the AIMPE Rules.

These proposed rule changes were approved by the 2021 Federal Council meeting - see below.

The Special Meetings will be held in the usual Branch meeting venues and will be held in conjunction with the usual Monthly Meetings.

NOTE: Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in the Greater Sydney region, the Sydney Branch meeting will be an online meeting conducted by videoconference.

Sydney Branch members will be separately notified by email and provided with the link to join the meeting.

For more details please go to the Rules page in About AIMPE.


Deputy PM wants Australian flag coastal fleet

(uploaded 05 07 21)

The new Deputy Prime Minister Mr Barnaby Joyce has announced his support for an Australian flag coastal shipping fleet.

On the occasion of the swearing in of his new National Party Ministers, Mr Joyce made the clearest statement since his election on 21st June that he is in favour of the AIMPE/AMOU Coastal Tanker proposal. Mr Joyce said "I think you need Australian flagged ships to have full sovereignty". The context of his comments was a broad view that Australia needs to be more self-reliant in an uncertain world.

The Weekend Australian on 3rd/4th July carried the story of the comments made by Mr Joyce on 2nd July in Canberra. Mr Joyce has taken on the portfolio of Infrastructure and Transport and so it will be his responsibility to take a formal decision on the issue.

AIMPE will be urging that Mr Joyce takes the formal decision as soon as possible.

Global Seafarer - July 2021 edition

(uploaded 01 07 201

Global Seafarer is the digital newspaper of the Nautilus Federation - the UK-based international group formed by maritime officers' unions from around the world - including AIMPE.

The newspaper contains plenty of information on maritime developments around the world.

The July 2021 edition of the Global Seafarer can be accessed here:

July 2021 Global Seafarer.pdf July 2021 Global Seafarer.pdf

AIMPE Head Office closed again

(uploaded 01 07 201

The AIMPE Head Office in Sydney has closed again due to the COVID-19 restrictions introduced by the NSW Government.

HO staff are again working from home.

The main telephone number has been diverted so that members can still contact Carol Godfrey about their fees.

Of course members can keep in touch by email on

For industrial matters please use the following contacts:

National Organiser Sam Littlewood 0434 445 560

Federal Secretary  Martin Byrne 0419 243 263

Coastal Tanker campaign continues

(posted 09 06 21)

The  AIMPE campaign to change the mind of the  Minister responsible for transport, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Michael McCormack continues. The latest stage in the campaign includes a speech by Mr Russell Broadbent MP (Liberal) and an article in The Australian newspaper on 8th June 2021.

Here is a copy of the article from The Australia:

The_Australian_8th_June_2021_page_6.pdf The_Australian_8th_June_2021_page_6.pdf (395.88 KB Wed Jun 9 17:33:25 2021)

AIMPE Members take action on the Gladstone tugs

(posted 04 06 21 updated 08 06 21)

Gladstone Tug Engineers maintenance dispute


Media release 3rd Jun 2021


AIMPE has been seeking a new Enterprise Agreement with Smit Lamnalco for almost a year.

The negotiations have brought to a head a number of disputes that have been generated by local management interpretation of existing agreement conditions. AIMPE and members are attempting to rectify these anomalies, including maintenance of the tugs.

The central catalyst for the members taking protected industrial action has been the push by the company to exclude the Tug Engineers from the important maintenance function and to have tug maintenance carried out by shore personnel without the supervision of the Tug Engineers.

AIMPE Members have been frustrated by the changes being implemented by the company and see that the protected action is their only way to demonstrate their concerns.

The removal of the Tug Engineers from the supervision of mechanical maintenance has already been associated with mechanical breakdowns on the tugs.

This dispute is not about money.

Smit Lamnalco also propose to remove or reduce existing agreement entitlements including not maintaining essential safety qualifications for the specialised operation.

Shipping has increased in Gladstone and not decreased.

It is about the safe operation of the tugs which requires direct supervision of mechanical repairs by the Tug Engineers responsible for the operation of the tugs.

AIMPE has assured the Gladstone Port Corporation that the tugs will be available to attend to any port emergency and the Tug Engineers have remained onboard the tugs to ensure that they are ready to respond to any port emergency. Gladstone is an essential link in the global supply chain for minerals and energy exports.

A previous notice of protected action was withdrawn last month to enable further discussions to be held. The AIMPE attempted to negotiate as late into the evening of 31 May. A further stoppage has been notified to take place on 8th June 2021.

Meanwhile AIMPE met with Smit yesterday in a conference chaired by Fair Work Commission Deputy President Asbury to have more negotiations about the Enterprise Agreement for the Gladstone Tug Engineers.


Martin Byrne

Federal President

Here is a copy of the DCN article on the Gladstone stoppage on 1st June:

The_DCN_Gladstone_tug_engineers_down_tools.pdf The_DCN_Gladstone_tug_engineers_down_tools.pdf

And here is a copy of the online coverage:

CQ_tug_workers_take_industrial_action_over_safety_issues.pdf CQ_tug_workers_take_industrial_action_over_safety_issues.pdf (296.42 KB Tue Jun 8 10:42:00 2021)

Minister rejects Coastal Tanker proposal

(posted 06 05 21)

The Minister responsible for transport, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has rejected the joint AIMPE/AMOU proposal for a coastal tanker fleet.

Mr McCormack has stuck to the same position that he has had since becoming the Minister responsible for transport saying that he will not support a strategic fleet.

His letter shows that he has disregarded all the arguments presented in our proposal including fuel security and workforce training.

Unlike most Ministers, Mr McCormack does not acknowledge the need to change his position in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has demonstrated some of the vulnerabilities of national economies.

Nor does Mr McCormack seem to be thinking about the changing strategic environment that Australia faces which may require a great deal more self-sufficiency to keep our economy ticking over.

This is deeply disappointing.

The Minister needs to change his mind or we need a new Minister.

The letter can be read in full here:

Reply_from_Deputy_PM_20210504_065815.pdf Reply_from_Deputy_PM_20210504_065815.pdf



COVID-19 vaccination priority

(posted 26  03 21)

The Nautilus Federation of Australia (NFA) has written to most of the State/Territory health authorities around Australia seeking priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine for maritime personnel.

Maritime personnel are at the international interface with arrivals from overseas. Unlike aviation most of the shipping arrivals (over 29,000 vessel arrivals into Australia per annum) are cargo ships and the interface is with crew rather than passengers. Nevertheless, Australian maritime personnel are working at an international interface.

NFA understands that some of the maritime personnel with the most direct interface have already been included in the first phase of the vaccination roll-out - priority 1a. These include Marine Pilots, AMSA Surveyors and ABF Marine Crews. There are other occupational groups which have direct interaction with crews on overseas ships after they arrive into Australian ports. These include Classification Society Surveyors, Ships Agents, Ship Repair contractors, Stevedoring personnel and others. It is not clear yet whether these will be included in 1a or 1b.

It is also extremely unclear whether the remainder of the broadly defined group of Australian maritime personnel will be offered access to vaccination in any position other than in accordance with their individual age cohort as the process enters subsequent phases of the roll-out. There is one jurisdiction which has extended the offer of access more broadly – WA has offered access in the 1a phase to a broader range of maritime personnel. This has been co-ordinated via the local port authorities liaising with maritime employers within their port area. Groups offered access have include tugboat crews, pilot boats crew and others.

For the full text of the NFA letter please use this link:

210319_NFA_vaccination_for_maritime_personnel.pdf 210319_NFA_vaccination_for_maritime_personnel.pdf.

AIMPE calls for Federal Budget support

(posted 24 03 21)

The AIMPE has written to the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Michael McCormack seeking his support for the establishment of an Australian coastal tanker fleet in this year's Federal Budget. As the Minister responsible for Transport among other things, Mr McCormack's support is vital if the proposal is to be included in the May 2021 Budget.

The proposal is one which AIMPE and AMOU have raised on a number of occasions over the last year or more. It is a proposal which we believe is practical and capable of implementation over a relatively short span of time. This proposal is also one which has attracted favourable comment from Industry participants and Departmental officials.

Our proposal is a tight, focussed proposal with the specific purpose of improving Australia’s fuel security as well as providing a platform for the training of the young maritime professionals of the future - which Australia so desperately needs.

The Federal Government has assisted the improvement of Australia’s energy security by implementing a new fuel storage policy for key strategic locations around Australia – but Australia currently lacks a home-grown capability to distribute petroleum fuel products from those key strategic locations to the many other smaller ports around the country.

Specifically we are seeking urgent support for this proposal and the inclusion of funding in the 2021-22 Budget to be handed down in May to implement the plan in three stages over the next three financial years.

The full text of the letter can be found here:

AIMPE_letter_to_Deputy_PM_Hon_M_McCormack_24_03_21_for_website.pdf AIMPE_letter_to_Deputy_PM_Hon_M_McCormack_24_03_21_for_website.pdf

COVID-19 vaccination roll-out

(posted 02  03 21, updated 05 03 21)

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program in Western Australia has entered its second week and AIMPE member John Hartree received the jab at the Perth Children’s Hospital on Tuesday 2nd March.

Fremantle Port Authority has co-ordinated the offer of access to the first round to maritime workers in the FPA area. John grabbed the offer straight away. John works on the Svitzer tugs in Fremantle. Fremantle was the centre of attention in October 2020 when the Al Messilah livestock carrier arrived with a number of crew members suffering from the virus.

Above AIMPE member John Hartree receiving his vaccination on 2nd March.

Protecting his family from the possibility of infection is one of the main reasons that John took up the offer of the vaccine as soon as it was made available. "I don’t want to catch the virus down in the port and then take it home and infect my family” said John. “There is also the factor that I might be doing some inter-State travel in the future and it won’t hurt having had the vaccine” he said after receiving the jab.

John has stated that the process was quick and painless. “I hardly felt the needle go in nor the vaccine when it was injected.” After getting the jab the staff in the hospital clinic ask John to sit for about 15 minutes of quiet time. John suffered no ill-effects from the vaccination.

“I saw one of the other Fremantle Engineers go in as I left the hospital and then one of IRs too, but Svitzer have not made it mandatory – it’s up to the individual.”

The hospital staff advised that he will receive an email for his second jab in 3 weeks’ time.

The WA Health Department reported that more than 2,800 frontline workers received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the week ending 27th February.


Note: In January AIMPE and AMOU wrote a joint letter which went to the Prime Minister and all the State Premiers including the WA Premier Mr McGowan requesting that maritime personnel be recognised as a priority occupation to be granted access to the offer of a vaccination.


AIMPE Federal Council dates set for June

(posted 17 02 21)

The AIMPE Federal Council meeting dates have been set for 15th, 16th & 17th June 2021. The Federal Executive met on 16th February and resolved to confirm the dates for the Federal Council and also to deal with all business held over from 2020. 

AIMPE AGM set for 25th May

(posted 17 02 21)

The AIMPE Annual General Meeting has been set for 25th May 2021. The Federal Executive met on 16th February and resolved to confirm the date for the AGM and also to deal with all business held over from 2020. 

WA moves NSW and Queensland to ‘low risk’

(posted 25 01 21)
From 12.01am, Monday, January 25, NSW and Queensland will be regarded by the WA Government as ‘low risk’ states. This means that travel to WA from the eastern States will become easier for members who work in or out of WA.

Travel from NSW and Queensland will be permitted into WA, subject to the following Government conditions:

AIMPE & AMOU request vaccination priority for maritime personnel

(updated 22 01 20)

AIMPE and AMOU have written to the Prime Minister requesting that maritime personnel should be given priority for vaccinations.

This is not ahead of health workers or the aged of course, but AIMPE & AMOU have asked National Cabinet to agree that Australian maritime personnel are regarded as critical services personnel required for societal functioning for the purposes of the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.

AIMPE & AMOU have also asked the Prime Minister for clarification about whether Australians who have received the approved vaccination will be exempt from domestic travel quarantine requirements.

Joint_AIMPE__AMOU_letter_re_vaccination_priority_for_maritime_personnel_21_01_21.pdf Joint_AIMPE__AMOU_letter_re_vaccination_priority_for_maritime_personnel_21_01_21.pdf (248.30 KB Fri Jan 22 16:46:24 2021)

The AIMPE & AMOU letter has been forwarded to all State Premiers and to the Chief Ministers in the Territories seeking their support during the National Cabinet meeting.

Under the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy vaccinations will not be mandatory. The AIMPE & AMOU request does not change the voluntary nature of the individual choice to have a vaccination.

WA Direction for Queenslanders

(updated 11 01 20)

The Western Australian Government Direction for people travelling from Queensland to WA provides very limited scope for exemptions:

Queensland_Outbreak_Response_Directions__WA_Govt_08_01_21.pdf Queensland_Outbreak_Response_Directions__WA_Govt_08_01_21.pdf (549.07 KB Mon Jan 11 12:29:41 2021)

The Direction specifically notes that personnel on a roster are not regarded as specialists for the purposes of the COVID-19 emergency. The only other grounds for exemptions are:

"compassionate grounds or on any other ground whatsoever"

This may sound fairly wide but the WA Police have not granted many exemptions to other areas [like NSW And Victoria] without strict conditions. Some companies have been required to provide detailed explanations of the measures that they have put in place to minimise the risk of infection including longer swings which reduce the number of movements of people into and out of WA. Quarantine measures are included for any traveller from a specified State or Territory with COVID-19 cases.

WA closes its border to Queensland

(updated 08 01 20)

The Western Australian Government has again reacted quickly to the latest outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the Greater Brisbane area and closed the WA border to people travelling from Queensland. This follows the decision of the Queensland Government to impose a lockdown on the south east region of the State including Brisbane, Logan, Moreton, Redlands, and Ipswich.

These actions are in response to a case in Brisbane where the UK variant of the COVID-19 virus has been identified.

The whole of the east coast of mainland Australia is now subject to WA's hard border closure.

Once again this will place great strain on members who live in the three eastern States and work in the West.

Northern Territory, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT have also declared the Greater Brisbane area to be a hot spot and restricted travel from the region.

New Year – new closures

(updated 04 01 21)

The 2021 New Year period has seen the further extension of border closures and travel restrictions in States and Territories around Australia.

Prior to Christmas WA closed its border to NSW as did Queensland after initially limiting the restrictions to Sydney with its Northern Beaches hotspot.

On New Year’s Eve WA closed its border with Victoria meaning any travellers from Victoria would join NSW travellers in having to go into 14 days isolation upon arrival into WA. This closure had a retrospective impact because it declared that the “relevant time” was 21st December.

On New Year’s Day SA closed its border with NSW. Like Queensland this followed an earlier restriction which was limited to the Sydney region.

Then Victoria closed its border to NSW on 2nd January – reversing the restrictions that had been in place when Victoria was in extended lock-down.

Tasmania has a variety of restrictions based on level of risk – low, medium or high. Low risk travellers can enter without quarantine, medium risk can enter but will be subject to quarantine or self-isolation. High risk travellers are not allowed to enter unless they have been granted an exemption.

The NT has added and removed locations from its hotspot list as circumstances have changed. From 1st January Greater Sydney is regarded as a hotspot by the NT. Travel restrictions apply including quarantine at traveller’s expense.

ACT has restricted travel from Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the NSW Central Coast since before Christmas.

These travel restrictions will again hamper AIMPE members travelling to and from work. As in 2020 AIMPE will do what can be done to assist members travelling to and from work.

Please contact your local AIMPE officials for assistance.

Global Seafarer - January 2021 edition

(uploaded 23 12 20)

Global Seafarer is the digital newspaper of the Nautilus Federation - the UK-based international group formed by maritime officers unions including AIMPE. The newspaper contains plenty of information on maritime developments around the world. The January 2021 edition of the Global Seafarer can be accessed here:

21.01_JAN_GlobalSeafarer.pdf 21.01_JAN_GlobalSeafarer.pdf (3.92 MB Wed Dec 23 14:53:36 2020)