More than 10,000 foreign workers on board 11 cruise ships off Australian coast

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has estimated that there could be up to 11,000 foreign workers on board 11 foreign cruise ships currently in Australian waters,.

The MUA expressed alarm at what it called an ongoing failure of the industry to help workers return to their home countries.

MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin said last week that “the plight of the thousands of crew members on board foreign cruise ships anchored in Australian waters is an emerging humanitarian crisis that requires immediate government action”.

He said that the crew of these ships should be tested for Covid-19 with the ships sterilized under Australian standards, with crew members then allowed to disembark through Australian ports and flown back to their home countries at the expense of their employers.  “All relocation, travel, and medical expenses must be covered by international cruise companies like P&O, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean”, said Crumlin. ITF Australia Coordinator Dean Summers claimed that the ongoing crisis was linked to the practice of registering ships under the flag of convenience. This had left crews at the mercy of countries like Panama, the Bahamas, and Liberia to deliver essential food, fuel, and medical supplies