Leading international mining and maritime unions representing millions of workers around the world are meeting in Auckland this week.
Mining and Maritime Initiative Chair Mick Doleman says the union formation brings together unions with common interests and is complementing other union federations.
Mr Doleman, who is Deputy National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, says the globalized structure of the mining and maritime industries required a global response from workers.
He says the strong progressive and militant tradition in the mining and maritime industries means that the affiliated unions were already actively involved in international solidarity actions.
He says this is the first time the Mining and Maritime committee had met in New Zealand.
Mr Doleman acknowledged the contribution of affiliated New Zealand unions to major disputes which the Mining and Maritime Initiative had been active in.
New Zealand unions had supported miners in the Boron dispute in California with mining giant Rio Tinto, which saw the company defeated in its anti Union lock out of workers, and had also supported the Mexican miners in their dispute with mining company Grupo Mexico, where miners have been killed and oppressed.
Holding the meeting in Auckland was an opportunity to discuss some of the major union issues in the Asia Pacific region and New Zealand itself.
Unions affiliated to the Trans Tasman Transport Union Federation and the Trans Tasman Oil and Gas Alliance were also meeting during the week.
The massive development of the offshore oil and gas industry in the region was a major focus of interest, as was ensuring the development of unionism in nations of the region.
The Mining and Maritime Initiative brings together global unions including the Maritime Union of Australia, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) from North America, CFMEU (Mining and energy – Australia), United Steel Workers (North America), NUM (National Union of Mineworkers – South Africa), ILA (International Longshoremen’s Association – North America), SATAWU (South Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union), UMWA (United Mine Workers – North America), and CEPPWAWU (Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union – South Africa).
Global union federations also involved were the ITF (International Transport Workers Federation), ICEM (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions) and IMF (International Metal Workers Federation).
New Zealand representatives include the hosting union the Maritime Union of New Zealand and the EPMU.
The Mining and Maritime Initiative will hold its international conference in 2011 in South Africa.