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Case For New Zealand Shipping Now Urgent

The Maritime Union says New Zealand freight companies need to focus on a secure supply chain, and abandon the “low wage” ideology.

Maritime Union National Secretary Craig Harrison says there is a growing realisation that New Zealand needed to have shipping capability to ensure reliable and secure services.

He says an increasing number of charters by exporters was proof that New Zealand needed local solutions to shipping congestion.

Leading figures in the logistics industry had acknowledged the need for New Zealand coastal shipping and new ideas.

Mr Harrison says there is still however an element of business owners who want to keep New Zealand shipping and New Zealand workers excluded from this process.

“A few would prefer to see their business fail through lack of secure shipping, rather than admit that we need our own domestic and international shipping solutions.”

He says New Zealand ships and New Zealand seafarers had to be part of a national plan to ensure supply chain security and reliable services, and a level of redundancy.

This meant a co-ordinated and long term change, not a fragmented temporary band aid with short term charters, he says.

Mr Harrison says the current use of exploited overseas seafarers to move coastal cargo was a nonsense and had damaged our maritime capability.

“It is the equivalent of having truck drivers on state highways or air crew on our planes being imported from overseas as short term labour, with poor wages and inferior conditions.”

New Zealand shipping was disadvantaged by current laws, and this was threatening the entire supply chain, as New Zealand was dependent on overseas shipping corporates that had other priorities rather than the small New Zealand market.

He says the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) New Zealand inspectorate had recovered more than US$570,610 in unpaid wages for overseas crews since January 2020 and often had to assist crew with problems, and the New Zealand freight industry had to start showing leadership and responsibility.

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