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Union campaign aims to save an industry in crisis

Union campaign aims to save an industry in crisis

The Maritime Union launched a national campaign today to deal with what it describes as a crisis situation that threatens the future of New Zealand¹s maritime industry.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the maritime industry is being destroyed through casualization and Flag of Convenience "sweatships" in New Zealand waters.

"What we are seeing is a number of serious issues that have combined to threaten the viability of an industry which New Zealand depends on for trade, employment and security."

Mr Hanson says the campaign is focussed on gaining a total change of direction for the industry, towards a regulated, high-skilled and permanent workforce.

"While individual ports and companies continue down a path of self-defeating competition, then New Zealand as a whole is put in danger through biosecurity and environmental hazards, dependence on foreign shippers, and safety and port security threats."

Mr Hanson cited the problem of "Flag of Convenience" (FOC) shipping that was frequently exposed in the media through incidents such as disintegrating equipment and exploitation of crews.

"The Maritime Union says that New Zealand needs its own merchant fleet to ensure our reliability and reputation as a trading nation, rather than relying on the shady underworld of FOC shipping."

Casualization of waterfront labour was the other main focus of the campaign.

"Casualization of workers and contracting out by companies looking for a quick buck is wrecking any kind of workforce stability and the working lives of people in the industry."

Mr Hanson says the Government needed to take a long-term, holistic view of the sector, that recognized the key to security and stability was a secure and stable workforce.

"The Government Transport Strategy made the correct analysis in saying we need an affordable, safe, integrated and sustainable transport industry by 2010."

"Unless immediate action is taken to ensure a regulated, skilled and permanent workforce in our maritime industries then that vision will remain a dream rather than a reality," says Mr Hanson.

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