Transport workers mobilize as overseas rolling stock arrives in New Zealand

The New Zealand affiliates of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met today to discuss their concerns with the arrival of KiwiRail’s new locomotives in the country.

The Chinese made locomotives will arrive on two different ships into the Ports of Auckland over the next 24 hours and be unloaded this week.

New Zealand ITF Convenor and President of the Maritime Union Garry Parsloe says New Zealand workers are concerned and angry that local jobs and industry have been undermined by sending the work overseas.

“We keep on hearing how the country is broke, and we all know how high unemployment is, but KiwiRail and the National Government are allowing work that should be done here in New Zealand to go overseas, destroying jobs and taking money out of our communities.”

Mr Parsloe says the unions condemned the outsourcing of work overseas when KiwiRail had the ability to manufacture in its own workshops.

New Zealand rail workers are represented by the ITF affiliated Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU).

RMTU General Secretary Wayne Butson says that 35 of the new flat top multi functional wagons for KiwiRail have already been made at the Hillside workshops in Dunedin, but most had been contracted to China.

“We have demonstrated our ability and competency to build rolling stock here. The only factor at play here is that cheap exploited labour is used in China. Yet the money that could be spent in New Zealand communities, boosting jobs, skills and the future of industry, is being funneled out of the country.”

“In the context of the recent budget, it is clear that this Government is taking a tunnel vision approach to lowering New Zealand’s national debt burden. They are happy to see our current account deficit balloon out by the cost of these rail projects, at the same time as giving our skilled railway tradespersons a belief that there is no future for them in New Zealand and they need to join the exodus to Australia where they will be quickly snatched up.”

The ITF unions will be meeting again this week to discuss the way forward. ITF affiliates in New Zealand include the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, Maritime Union of New Zealand, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, National Distribution Union, Merchant Service Guild, and Aviation and Marine Engineers Association, representing tens of thousands of New Zealand transport workers.

The ITF is made up of 681 unions representing 4,500,000 transport workers in 148 countries. It is one of several Global Union Federations allied with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

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