Last Kiwi crew on trans-Tasman vessel stage shipboard protest

Members of the Maritime Union are staging a protest today on board a vessel at the Ports of Auckland.

Maritime Union Auckland Seafarers Branch Secretary Garry Parsloe says the crew members started their protest on the trans-Tasman freighter Rotoiti at the Ports of Auckland Bledisloe Terminal at 7am this morning Saturday 4 November 2006.

He says the crew are drawing attention to the fact that when the Rotoiti is withdrawn from service on 26 November, it will be the end of the last New Zealand crewed ship working on the trans-Tasman trade.

“The vessel is going yet the cargo remains, but the jobs are threatened, and these New Zealand seafarers want to have some work in their own trans-Tasman trade.”

Mr Parsloe says it was not a redundancy situation as the work was still there, but would be going to other vessels – none of which have any New Zealand crew members.

He says the crew want jobs for New Zealand seafarers on the trans-Tasman trade and were staging their action to get dialogue with the employer.

The vessel is currently owned by international shipping line Hapag Lloyd but since 1999, crew have been under Anglo-Eastern ship management.

Mr Parsloe says the situation is a shocking one, considering the importance of shipping to New Zealand as an economically and environmentally efficient transport mode.

“We are in a situation where New Zealand cargo is being carried, but there is no work for our own people.”

New Zealand seafarers had worked on the Rotoiti since 1975.

He says that the national conference of the Maritime Union in October had committed to action on the issue.

The Maritime Union had been in contact with overseas maritime unions for assistance with the matter.

The Maritime Union has challenged all shipping companies to recognize their social responsibility towards New Zealand crews, and has determined to maintain New Zealand seafarers on vessels that carry cargo on the trans-Tasman and international trade.

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