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Minister Fiddles Whilst The Waterfront Burns

16 November 2000

“Judging by answers to question in the House this afternoon, the Minister of Labour’s approach to the developing waterfront crisis is in line with that of Nero when Rome burned.

“I am so incensed by this Government’s lack of concern that I am tempted to buy the Minister a violin”, said Peter Brown, MP.

“The actions taking place in Bluff and Port Chalmers will in time threaten the job security of men permanently employed in those ports.

“Whilst I do not defend strike action, or blacklisting, as apparently is being advocated by the watersiders’ national executive, I do understand their frustrations and sense of hopelessness.

“The waterfront industry is moving closer and closer to being totally casualised. This might be the way to go in the eyes of stevedoring companies and exporters but it should be undertaken openly.

“At the time of port reform many men were approached to not take a golden handshake but remain in the industry. The promise was made by the industry at large and with Government backing, that there would be job security and if redundancy were to occur past service would be fully recognised. The industry has let many men down and I believe that it will possibly occur again in these southern ports.

“I urge the Minister to call a compulsory conference to ensure all the issues are tabled and addressed fairly and equitably.

“It is over a decade since port reform was introduced so it is appropriate to thoroughly address such issues as:

- Charging regimes
- Casualisation
- The demise of NZ Stevedoring

“The Minister has a choice. She can be proactive or she can sit and do nothing as her predecessor did, in which case she is best advised to play the violin,” concluded Peter Brown.


END

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