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Underpaid Chinese flight crews a warning on FTA

Maritime Union says underpaid Chinese flight crews a warning on free trade deal

The Maritime Union says the use of overseas flight crews being paid under the minimum wage by Air New Zealand is a blatant attack on workers.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the union has severe concerns about the use of overseas labour by employers as a method of attacking wages and conditions – and says that under free trade deals with China the situation could become much worse.

He says the fact that Air New Zealand is paying a group of overseas workers under the minimum wage to do the same work as New Zealand flight crews was a disturbing development, but not unexpected.

"The Maritime Union has said for years that free trade deals will move us towards the use of short-term, casual labour being imported across borders, as has happened in many other countries."

"The Maritime Union believes this incident is an excellent illustration of our concerns about what will become commonplace under free trade deals."

Mr Hanson says the Maritime Union has constantly been working to ensure that cheap overseas-sourced labour is not being exploited in the maritime industry.

He says there have been ongoing incidents involving overseas seafarers and fishing crew, where there has been some progress in resolving, and the attempted use of overseas crews and workers to do waterfront work in New Zealand.

"Some employers will try anything on to cut down wages and conditions in the current system, using all the techniques such as contracting out and so-called labour shortages to get around our already weak regulations."

Mr Hanson says New Zealand workers have been left in the dark as to what free trade deals with China would actually mean, apart from unsubstantiated estimates of increased trade.

He says the economic integration of New Zealand with China was a risky experiment and did not have the consent of the New Zealand people.


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