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Shipjumpers a warning of things to come - Union

Maritime Union media release
for immediate release
7 July 2005

Shipjumpers a warning of things to come, says Maritime Union

The Maritime Union says the discovery of shipjumpers working illegally in the Nelson and Marlborough vineyard industry comes as little surprise.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the number of shipjumpers coming into the country will continue due to the fact that many are treated like slaves on board.

"The first place the Labour Department and police should be raiding are the overseas and joint venture fishing fleets, which a Government report released in May 2005 said were rife with exploitation, intimidation and violence."

Mr Hanson says that incidents of crew members jumping ship off "Flag of Convenience" vessels is also common, because they are also badly treated.

He says New Zealand employers who are using illegal labour should be clamped down on, not penniless workers from the Third World.

"We believe there are local workers out there, however the pay rates on offer from many employers aren't good enough to attract people."

Mr Hanson says the use of cheap foreign labour was not a short term one-off situation, but is becoming a major international threat to the stability of wages and conditions throughout the world.

"The fact is, if low wage, overseas labour gets established within New Zealand due to so-called labour shortages, then when an economic downturn arrives along with higher unemployment, things will get even worse."

He says that under free trade agreements, many Third World countries are seeking to use their populations as mobile labour forces, creating conflict and undermining wages and conditions.

The Maritime Union says stronger regulation of the fishing and shipping industry, and higher wages, are some of the answers to the problem.


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