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Ferry company safety shortcuts not acceptable

5 May 2005

Ferry company safety shortcuts not acceptable

The Maritime Union says attempts to sack the crew of the Cook Strait ferry "Kent" by employers Strait Shipping is driven by attempts by management to bypass new safety regulations.

Maritime Union Wellington Branch Secretary Mike Williams says the threats to sack a crew is because the workers will not compromise on health and safety.

Mr Williams says Strait Shipping was ordered by the Maritime Safety Authority to put extra crew on steering duties after a fatality in Tory Channel earlier this week following a collision involving a yacht and the ferry "Santa Regina".

He says Strait Shipping have ordered current crew to go onto steering duties in addition to their current duties.

Mr Williams says the company is trying to get around the need for extra crew to ensure the safe operation of ferries.

"The attack on the crew is just a smokescreen for the real issue which is an appropriate level of crew, and our members are not prepared to have their safety or public safety put in jeopardy."

Mr Williams says a national meeting of the Maritime Union executive in Wellington this morning has given its full support to the crew and their stance for health and safety.

"We cannot have managers trying to abuse regulations that are put there to protect life and limb."

ENDS

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