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Maritime Union of New Zealand

Maritime Union of New Zealand

Tide has turned in favour of major law changes for New Zealand coastal shipping

The Maritime Union of New Zealand has welcomed news of a major legal victory for Aussie seafarers fighting to stop shipping bosses exploiting cheap Third World labour.

Maritime Union of New Zealand Joint President Dave Morgan says the Australian High Court ruling means foreign "flag of convenience" vessels in Australian waters will come under Australian employment law, wages and conditions.

"This is exactly the goal of our recent campaign for restoring cabotage in New Zealand coastal waters," says Mr Morgan.

Cabotage means New Zealand flagged and crewed ships are given priority in domestic shipping.

Similar laws are operated in the United States and the European Union.

"New Zealand is left the odd man out in allowing floating sweatshops to operate in our coastal waters" says Mr Morgan.

"We have gathered around 50 000 signatures for our campaign, and with the news from Australia, there is no credible objection to reinstating cabotage for New Zealand shipping."

Mr Morgan says a return to cabotage is vital for domestic shipping, and will have spin off benefits for employment, the economy, port security and biosecurity.

"With enormous Government resources being poured into port security, the Maritime Union is loudly saying here is the simplest, most cost effective, win win solution available - the restoration of coastal cabotage."

Mr Morgan says he has recent examples of unauthorised flag of convenience ships (Tongan flag) working the New Zealand coast untroubled by local authorities.

"The situation is loose, sloppy and needs to be resolved before we edge into banana republic status, where we have no control or even knowledge about what is going on a mile off our coastline."

Section 198 of the Maritime Transport Act is demonstrated as being an inherent security risk, and the legislation needs changing, says Mr Morgan.

Before 1991, New Zealand coastal shipping was generally reserved for the New Zealand merchant fleet, with any foreign ships having to provide New Zealand wages and conditions, protecting both New Zealand jobs and the rights of Third World workers.

"This Labour Government has a moral, social and economic duty to do the right thing for New Zealand workers and those working in New Zealand waters, " says Mr Morgan.

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