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Home » Ports » Union refuses to unload ship on COVID19 fears. Medical supplies on board.

Union refuses to unload ship on COVID19 fears. Medical supplies on board.

PortandTerminal.com, April 2, 2020

More than 60 longshoremen in Australia have been relieved of duty after refusing to unload a container vessel that docked before the end of the 14-day quarantine period for the coronavirus.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Dockworkers at the Port of Melbourne refused to unload a COSCO cargo ship because their union believed the vessel had not completed the 14-day quarantine period.

The vessel is believed to be carrying toilet rolls, surgical masks, shoe coverings, chemicals for the manufacture of soap and detergent, surgical gowns, laboratory coats, hair nets, tin food and whitegoods.

COSCO’s vessel the Xin Da Lian arrived at the Port of Melbourne on 31 April 2020 with approximately 2,000 TEU on board, much of which are medical supplies.

The Xin Da Lian berthed at the DP World terminal at the Port of Melbourne on Tuesday night, after leaving Shanghai on March 17.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said the vessel was in “in breach of the federal government’s 14-day coronavirus quarantine period” after visiting a Taiwanese port on March 19.

The longshoremen said that shaving off two days to the quarantine period was “a risk to workers and the community”.

“The union is not allowed to unilaterally declare a vessel unsafe: They are not allowed to create their own set of rules.”

DP World Australia chief operating officer Andrew Adam said the ship was cleared to berth by Australian Border Force.

“The union is not allowed to unilaterally declare a vessel unsafe: They are not allowed to create their own set of rules.”

MUA national assistant secretary Warren Smith defended the union’s stance, saying it didn’t want to see a repeat of Sydney’s Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle.

“The largest cluster of COVID-19 cases in Australia – which has already claimed several lives and caused hundreds of illnesses – was the result of inadequate measures put in place for the arrival of ships,” he said.

“What’s the difference with this ship?”

A large number of the coronavirus cases in NSW involves passengers who were on the Ruby Princess and disembarked on March 19.

The union has been demanding improvements to biosecurity measures at Australian ports since January.

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