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Maritime Union says foreign labour fears confirmed

Maritime Union says labour shortage claim has been blown out of water

The Maritime Union says that its fears about short-term casual labour being introduced into New Zealand have been confirmed.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the introduction of more cheap foreign labour into the New Zealand fishing industry is the death knell for New Zealand fishing employment.

He says revelations New Zealand fishing crews were being made redundant then being replaced by cheaper foreign crews blew the argument of labour shortages out of the water.

Independent Fisheries were given permission last week to import twenty Indonesian workers to replace a New Zealand crew made redundant in October 2004 amidst claims re-employed local workers were having to accept major pay cuts.

The decision was finally approved yesterday by Associate Immigration Minister Damian O'Connor after some second thoughts.

Mr Hanson says the Government is sending the message that laying off your staff and flying in short-term casual labour from overseas that are paid half the wages is now OK.

"We believe that this is a sign of the way things will be under the new free trade agreements, and if the New Zealand economy becomes dependant on cheap labour, then cheap labour will remain when the inevitable economic downturn arrives."

He says the fishing industry should hang its head in shame for the damage it has caused to fish stocks through over-fishing, which is being used as an excuse for attacking wages and conditions.

"Overfishing has wrecked their profits and now they are trying to fix the problem by slashing workers wages it is a disgraceful indictment of the industry."

Protecting remaining stocks will have a bad effect on industry workers, but failure to do so will have even more drastic effects for future generations of New Zealanders, says Mr Hanson.

There seemed to be no long term plan for New Zealand's maritime sector, which was suffering from a short-term mentality that was creating social and environmental crises.

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