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Workers Protest Over Quarantine Order In Australia

Protesters have rallied outside the Northern Territory Chief Health Officer's office to demand the release of port workers.

DARWIN, Australia — Dozens of Australian workers have protested outside the Northern Territory Chief Health Officer’s Darwin office to demand the release of 13 wharfies ordered into the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

The men allegedly unloaded a foreign ship without adequate personal protection while being watched by Australian Border Force officers on June 11.

Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie later directed the group into 14 days’ mandatory supervised quarantine over concerns the Tacoma Trader cargo vessel, which sailed from Singapore on June 5, could have been carrying Covid-19.

Tacoma Trader (IMO: 9675810) is a Container Ship that was built in 2015 (6 years ago) and is sailing under the flag of Singapore. It’s carrying capacity is 1102 TEU and her current draught is reported to be 7.7 meters. Her length overall (LOA) is 148 meters and her width is 24 meters.

The ship’s crew has since been tested twice for the virus and returned negative results, the Maritime Union of Australia said on June 23.

Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie send the group into 14 days’ mandatory supervised quarantine over concerns the Tacoma Trader cargo vessel. (Aaron Bunch/AAP Image)

It wants the men released, saying the crew’s results show the port workers aren’t at risk of contracting the virus.

The rally comes four days after the wharfies’ employer, Linx Cargo Care Group, failed to win the men’s release in the Northern Territory Local Court, where it’s challenged the validity of Dr Heggie’s order.

LINX Cargo Care Group is a transportation and logistics company in Australia and New Zealand, headquartered in Sydney. LINX Cargo Care Group comprises LINX, Autocare Services, C3, Pedersen Group and GeelongPort. The LINX brand emerged following the break up of Asciano in August 2016.

Maritime Union of Australia, Northern Territory branch secretary Andy Burford said the crew’s negative Covid-19 test results weren’t available in court on Friday and the men should now be released.

He said the Western Australian Chief Health Officer had used the same results to clear the ship for entry by port workers after the Tacoma sailed from Darwin to Port Hedland.

The ship’s crew has since been tested twice for the virus and returned negative results. (Glenn Campbell/AAP Image)

“It is now abundantly clear there was never any risk to the community, yet Northern Territory Health are more interested in saving face than doing the right thing and allowing these Darwin workers to return home to their families.”

The men are scheduled to be released at noon on June 25 upon the completion of the two-week quarantine order.

The Australian Border Force is a law enforcement agency, part of the Department of Home Affairs, responsible for offshore and onshore border control enforcement, investigations, compliance and detention operations in Australia.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Ritaban Misra)

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