The Maritime Union is backing rallies in New Zealand ports over the next week to end the use of methyl bromide.
Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says maritime workers want to see the toxic gas taken out of use.
“The time is up for methyl bromide and New Zealand needs to be moving into line with where the world is going.”
He says the Union is part of a new Coalition Against the use of Methyl Bromide bringing together workers, environmental groups, political parties and community organizations.
Methyl bromide is used in ports and aboard ships to fumigate logs for pests but most of New Zealand’s major trading partners will accept other treatments.
Methyl bromide also harms the ozone layer, and is being phased out internationally under the Montreal Protocol.
Mr Fleetwood says the deaths of six port workers in Nelson from motor neuron disease has led to ongoing debate about possible links with methyl bromide.
He says that further research is being carried out on the effects of methyl bromide on human health, and there was cause for concern.
He says the Maritime Union is very concerned that businesses profiting from methyl bromide use and Government agencies have been too closely linked up until 2009 through the STIMBR group.
“It seems once again that profit has taken priority over the safety of workers, communities and environment.”
Protests taking place at the ports of Picton, Wellington and Tauranga will highlight the large amount of methyl bromide gas that is being used at these ports, and the risk this poses to worker’s health and the ozone layer.
Date: Friday April 23
Location: Shakespeare Bay Lookout
Map – http://bit.ly/9tNucR
Date: Monday April 26
Location: The footpath outside of the Bluebridge entrance
Map – http://bit.ly/9MqJ2R
Date: Wednesday April 28
Location: Corner of Totara St and Hull Rd. It is the first intersection from the wharf.
Map – http://bit.ly/aZW3US
Members of the Coalition are:
Soil and Health Association of New Zealand
The Green Party
Rail and Maritime Transport Union
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
The Safe Food Campaign
Guardian of the Sounds
Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand
Maritime Union of New Zealand
Friends of Nelsonhaven and Tasman Bay
The Alliance Party