European dockers victory shows global tide turning against “pirate capitalism”

The Maritime Union says a major Union victory in Europe for job security for port workers signals a turning of the tide in the global maritime industry.

The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly on 18 January 2006 to throw out a plan to extend corporate control over European ports.

On 16 January, 6000 dockers from 16 European countries mounted a strong protest against the plan in Strasbourg, France, in defence of jobs, working conditions, health and safety, and the quality of port services.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says it is a major victory that was gained by an active campaign by workers – and which has implications for the New Zealand industry.

“The wheel is turning against free market policies in the international maritime industry.”

A previous attempt in Europe to introduce a similar package was defeated in 2003.

Mr Hanson says the signs are that more responsible and enlightened maritime policies are being introduced the world over.

He says massive state investment in shipping in Brazil, and a rejection of the free-market model throughout Latin America, was of interest to the Union.

A recent joint report by Government, Unions and environmental groups on ‘flag of convenience’ overfishing in Australian waters was another promising sign.

“We have finally got some progress on the mistreatment of overseas crews in New Zealand waters, and we want to make sure that workers are not seen as a cheap resource to be shuttled around the globe for insecure casual jobs.”

Mr Hanson says the victory of the European dockers is a major positive step in the continuing struggle for secure permanent jobs in the maritime industry.

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