Latest News

Local News

Gladstone Port Workers Protest Against 'Sham Contracting'


Protestors outside the Gladstone office of multinational Smit Lamnalco.  Image Supplied 

The exclusive provider of towage services at the Port of Gladstone has been accused of using sham contracting to undermine wages, conditions and safety after contracting out a tug delivery job traditionally undertaken by local workers.

On Friday, local maritime workers protested outside the Gladstone office of multinational Smit Lamnalco following revelations that the work traditionally carried out by direct employees had instead been outsourced to a business using half the number of crew members and paying them 60 per cent less.

The Maritime Union of Australia accused Smit Lamnalco, which was last year awarded a five year contract to operate all towage services at the port, of using sham contracting arrangements to undermine the jobs of local workers.

“Multinational towage operator Smit Lamnalco, which operates more than 180 vessels in 30 countries, has brought sham contracting arrangements to Gladstone, undermining the wages, conditions, and safety of local maritime workers,” MUA Queensland Branch Deputy Secretary Jason Miners said.

“The decision to contract out this tug delivery job — work traditionally done by local employees — to a company using half the number of crew members and paying them just 40 per cent of the wages is a shocking attack on local workers and threatens safety standards at the port.

“Smit Lamnalco claimed it supported local workers when it was seeking the exclusive contract to provide towage services at the Port of Gladstone, but the decision to use a shadowy arrangement to avoid paying decent rates of pay or adhere to appropriate safety standards shows the exact opposite.

“Instead, the company has undertaken blatant adverse action against local workers, avoiding the conditions negotiated in good faith into a workplace agreement, without any kind of consultation process.

“If Smit Lamnalco can get away with this sham arrangement it will open the floodgates for any business wanting to avoid wages, conditions, and safety standards put in place following good faith bargaining.

“Sham contracting does not belong in Gladstone, which is why these workers are seeking the support of their local community for their principled stand against this cancerous practice.”

Smit Lamnalco has reacted to claims by the MUA of 'sham contracting, releasing the following statement.  

1. Smit Lamnalco has a requirement to dry dock four of its Gladstone based ‘Island Class’ tugs in
2020. Due to the size of the vessels, only three shipyards in the region have the physical capability
to complete the docking project.
2. PNG Shipyard in Port Moresby was selected based on capability, availability, Smit Lamnalco’s
previous experience in the yard, and price.
3. The voyage to Port Moresby is an international voyage.
4. Smit Lamnalco conducts its Australian operations in compliance with the Marine Safety (Domestic
Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012, and does not have in place the necessary regulatory
approvals, or a SOLAS compliant safety management system to conduct an international voyage.
5. The Company’s legal representatives confirmed to the Fair Work Commission on Thursday
evening, that the Enterprise Agreement covering Smit Lamnalco’s Gladstone operation does not
apply to international voyages.
6. Smit Lamnalco has contracted IMS, a specialist Australian ship delivery company to conduct the
voyage. IMS possess the necessary regulatory, technical and manning expertise to conduct the
voyage safely and efficiently. The personnel undertaking the voyage are all Australian nationals.
7. The Company refutes that it has contracted out a tug delivery job “traditionally done by local
employees”. All of Smit Lamnalco’s previous international delivery voyages, including the delivery
of the eleven (11) Gladstone based tugs, have been contracted to specialist international delivery
8. Smit Lamnalco has always, and will continue, to conduct domestic delivery voyages utilising its
own management systems and employees, in accordance with the relevant EA.
9. Smit Lamnalco refutes that it is engaged in sham contracting in any way.

Globally, Smit Lamnalco is the leading provider of safe and efficient towage and associated marine services to the oil and gas terminal industry. With more than 180 vessels worldwide, Smit Lamnalco is dedicated to providing marine support services tailored to the operational needs of global customers in local markets.

Active in almost 30 countries, Smit Lamnalco specialises in bringing international standards on safety, logistics, mooring and towage to onshore and offshore operations in challenging environments.

By Michelle Brewer