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Overseas labour may lead to port shutdown

Wednesday 24 November 2004

Maritime Union will shut down ports if overseas labour introduced

The Maritime Union says it will shut down New Zealand ports if short-term overseas casual labour is brought in under the guise of labour shortages.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says that a sudden flood of requests for imported labour indicates a concerted campaign to open the New Zealand labour market up to sweatshop-style conditions.

He says a recent list of labour shortages was created following a request to employers asking about shortages, which was creating a false demand for overseas labour.

He says the Union has made it clear to employers that it would act swiftly and firmly to defend permanent local jobs through strike action, pickets and protests.

Mr Hanson says a request to import Chinese builders in Auckland¹s construction industry is just the tip of the iceberg, and the Maritime Union was working with other Unions to defend jobs and conditions, which would be endangered by free trade agreements.

He says the Maritime Union supports Amalgamated Workers Union Secretary Ray Bianchi who says current labour shortages have been caused by Government and employers not planning for labour shortages or training over the last fifteen years. Mr Hanson says the Maritime Union already has to deal with the problems of casualized international labour.

"Many workers in New Zealand waters are on ŒFlag of Convenience¹ ships, and are Third World workers who are mistreated and employed on Third World pay and conditions."

Other problems included foreign crews being made to load and unload ships, taking the work off New Zealand workers.

Mr Hanson says the Maritime Union believes the recent push on labour shortages is part of a rapid move to drag New Zealand into free trade agreements, which are undemocratic and could have enormous negative impact on the living standards of New Zealand workers.

"An international free trade in human beings as short term, casual labour will mean a race to the bottom for New Zealand workers."

ENDS

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