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Union says "sweatship labour" plan a disgrace

Maritime Union says "sweatship labour" plan a disgrace

The Maritime Union says that reports that New Zealand fishing companies are looking at importing cheap labour from China should be sounding alarm bells for New Zealand workers.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the move is one that he has predicted for some time, and is part of what he sees as the accelerating trend towards the casualization of the maritime workforce.

"This is the path we are taking of free market globalization ­ the only reason these companies will pull in Third World workers will be to employ them on Third World pay and conditions."

Mr Hanson says the maritime industry is being ripped apart by the use of Flag of Convenience "sweatships" off the New Zealand coast.

"We are constantly having to investigate incidents where foreign crews are being made to load and unload ships, taking the work off New Zealand workers."

Unless New Zealand rejected this approach, the next stage would be foreign workers employed under low wages and poor conditions working on the waterfront and working within New Zealand in other industries, says Mr Hanson.

He says that Chinese maritime workers are some of the most exploited and frightened the Maritime Union comes across in New Zealand ports.

Mr Hanson stressed the Maritime Union was an internationalist Union that supported all workers, and often assisted foreign seafarers who were being ripped off by employers.

"We are not opposed to foreign workers, but we are strongly opposed to companies exploiting cheap foreign labour to undermine wages and conditions for local workers."

"If the companies in question were going to pay New Zealand rates, under accepted New Zealand conditions of employment, and they were not going to displace local workers, it would be a different story," says Mr Hanson.

The Maritime Union is currently running a national campaign for secure employment in the maritime industry with meetings in all ports being held over May.

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