Protest hits Spirit of Tasmania

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 26 Juli 2013 | 19.55

ABOUT 100 dock workers and supporters blockaded the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne tonight to protest against staff sackings.

The protesters successfully stopped freight trucks loading cargo onto the Spirit of Tasmania, with the boat setting sail from Melbourne's Station Pier at 8.30pm -- one hour later than scheduled -- with little freight onboard.

Passengers were still able to board the vessel, which is expected to arrive in Devonport at 6.30am tomorrow.

David Schleibs of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said the community members wanted stevedore company QUBE, which employed the workers, to negotiate their return to work.

"The company has terminated them and they believe it's been unfair," Mr Schleibs said.

A QUBE spokesman said only one worker had been dismissed and the action taken by the union was illegal.

QUBE will take the MUA to court over the protest, the spokesman said.

Spirit of Tasmania communications co-ordinator Soniya Fernandez said the boat left Melbourne an hour behind schedule at 8.30pm yesterday.

She said some freight already inside the shipping yard was able to be loaded on to the boat, but the blockade had stopped new deliveries being loaded.

She said it was not yet known when the remaining freight would be shipped to Tasmania.

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