Maritime Union of New Zealand Wellington Branch Secretary Jim King says local crews in the Taranaki offshore industry have been pushed out by overseas owned crewing agents OSM.
Five crew members who had been working aboard the ‘Siem Amethyst’ had been expected to accompany the vessel back to Asia yesterday at the conclusion of its charter.
Four of the crew were New Zealanders and one was a Maritime Union of Australia member covered by the same terms and conditions of employment.
The ‘Siem Amethyst’ had been working in the Taranaki offshore having been delivered by a crew from Asia earlier this year.
However, without the knowledge of crew or Union, crewing agency OSM had secretly kept the overseas seafarers in New Plymouth in accommodation for several months and had now given them the job of crewing the vessel on its return voyage.
Mr King says the long standing arrangement as per the employment agreement was New Zealand crews would do this work.
He says industrial and legal action was in the pipeline, and the dispute was already on the radar across the Tasman with the Maritime Union of Australia whose members work for OSM in that jurisdiction.
“OSM is undermining the New Zealand maritime industry, and have created a major problem in the offshore industry.”
Mr King says the dispute is not with overseas crew members, but it is with an overseas owned company profiting off our natural resources but attacking local jobs and decent wages and conditions.
He says the one motive is pure corporate greed, as OSM would benefit from paying developing world wages and conditions.
“Our local seafarers pay taxes here, and what OSM is doing is breaking the rules, denying New Zealand workers employment while sucking money out of our natural resources.”
Mr King says the Government need to act now as the situation was a clear breach of not just an employment agreement but rules around overseas workers in New Zealand.
“The Government need to step in to start representing our citizens, not let overseas corporates suck more money out for their shareholders.”
Mr King says the Maritime Union would be taking a strong stand in defence of local jobs against corporate greed.