The Maritime Union says that the responsibility for the Rena disaster lies with Government and authorities as much as with individual crew members.
The Maritime Union of New Zealand and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) are investigating a shipjumping incident in Dunedin where nine Indonesian seafarers left the fishing trawler Marinui on Friday 10 March.
ITF New Zealand co-ordinator Kathy Whelan says the Union has been in touch with the Ministry of Immigration about the case, and ITF representatives will try to speak to the fishermen at Auckland Airport before they are sent home tomorrow.
She says she is extremely concerned about the increasing numbers of foreign seafarers leaving their vessels in New Zealand ports, in this case claiming they were subjected to 24 hour shifts with no breaks, two hour sleep breaks, and physical abuse.
The Maritime Union says that action must be taken to protect both local jobs and overseas workers in New Zealand industries after recent comments from Opposition immigration spokesperson Lockwood Smith about overseas workers caused an uproar.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says a progressive downward pressure on wages, conditions and local jobs is spreading throughout large areas of the New Zealand economy, including the horticulture and viticulture sector.
“We are very aware of this problem in the fishing industry and with flag of convenience shipping, and also with attempts to displace waterfront labour.”
The Maritime Union of New Zealand has attacked plans by employers to bring in migrant labour into the seafood industry after mass layoffs in the same sector.
A week after Sealord confirmed it would axe 323 jobs from its Nelson mussel factory, two South Island seafood companies Talleys and Aotearoa Seafood have applied to import 100 migrant labourers.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says that the use of temporary labour being imported from overseas threatens local employment.
Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the Union will resist any attempt to undermine wages and conditions through short term casual workers imported under free trade deals.
He says that comments by Trade Minister Phil Goff on the China free trade deal are disturbing for workers and not in line with the Labour Government’s commitment to a high skill, high wage economy.
There will be no incentive for training or paying for skills if businesses are able to step outside the national labour market and pull in trained staff on the minimum wage, says Mr Hanson.
The Maritime Union says the new rules to improve wages and conditions for overseas fishing crews announced today are good news for workers.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the announcement means the industry will be brought into line with the rest of New Zealand business.
“Despite a co-ordinated campaign by special interests in the industry, the Government has made the right decision and the principled decision.”
The Maritime Union says the free trade deal with China is the biggest threat to workers in New Zealand since the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the importation of short-term, casualized skilled labour being paid the minimum wage will be a disaster.
“This is obviously going to have a major and negative effect on wages and conditions in New Zealand.”