Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says that the ship Vega Auriga should be detained in a New Zealand port until it is deemed seaworthy and crew issues have been fixed.
The Liberian flagged Vega Auriga was a serial offender when it came to safety and seafarer welfare, and had been detained at Australian ports three times since July 2013 by Australian maritime authorities.
It had been described as “unseaworthy and substandard” by Australian Maritime Safety Authority manager Allan Schwartz, and had been banned from the Australian coast.
The banning had been supported by the Maritime Union of Australia and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) who represent global seafarers.
The Vega Auriga is currently in the Port of Tauranga, where Maritime New Zealand (Government) inspectors had inspected the vessel and ordered repairs before it was allowed to leave port.
Mr Fleetwood says that a full investigation of the ship was required due to the seriousness of the actions taken by Australian authorities.
He says the Australian Maritime Safety Authority had the power to act more strongly as Australia was a signatory of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), an international agreement to protect the rights of seafarers.
The Maritime Union of New Zealand says the New Zealand Government has the Maritime Labour Convention under consideration, but the process needed to be accelerated.
“This incident shows the urgency of getting New Zealand up to speed as a signatory of the MLC.”
Mr Fleetwood says that New Zealand has seen the Rena grounding, terrible incidents in the fishing industry, and the Pike River tragedy, and action was required.
“High standards are not an optional extra, they are a basic requirement.”