The Issue 23 â€˘ October 2008
Maritimes Magazine of the Maritime Union of New Zealand
FAIRNESS AT WORK Worth Voting For
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 1
Tax Cuts for Millionaire$ Wage Cuts
Donâ€™t vote National. Authorized by Trevor Hanson, Maritime Union of New Zealand, 220 Willis Street, Wellington http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/ 2 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Financial parasites have created economic disaster
Edition 23, October 2008
Contents Editorial and contents General Secretary’s report Update from National President West Australia offshore MUNZ–EPMU offshore alliance Bus Lockout News Box nets ITF Stockholm Meeting Maritime training in Europe Bear with a sore tooth Ten years on ITF New Zealand Flags of Convenience Night Shift Free market future Election 2008 ITF offshore Higher wages Free trade threat Cuban Five Letters Port roundups
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 16 17 18 20 22 23 24 26 27 28 30 31 32
Gangway nets page 10
ITF inspections page 18
‘The Maritimes’ is published quarterly by the Maritime Union of New Zealand. ISSN 1176-3418 National Office: PO Box 27004 Wellington New Zealand Telephone: 04 3850 792 Fax: 04 3848 766 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.munz.org.nz Editor: Victor Billot Mobile: 021 482219 Fax: 09 9251125 Email: email@example.com Mail: PO Box 339, Dunedin New Zealand Editorial Board: Trevor Hanson, Phil Adams, Garry Parsloe and Russell Mayn Deadline for all Port reports, submissions, photos and letters: 19 November 2008 for next edition Cover photo, ITF inspection at Port Chalmers, from left Port Chalmers Dunedin Branch MUNZ executive member Paul Napier, executive member Stuart Crawford, MUNZ national president Phil Adams and New Zealand ITF inspector Grahame MacLaren For more online photos, see www.flickr.com/maritimeunion Thanks to our photographers, including Luke Appleby, Paul White, Joe Fleetwood, Dein Ferris, Steve Murray, Garry Parsloe, Bill Connelly, Victor Billot and others
Contact the Maritime Union National Office Telephone: 04 3850 792 Fax: 04 3848 766 Address: PO Box 27004, Wellington Office administrator: Ramesh Pathmanathan Email: firstname.lastname@example.org General Secretary: Trevor Hanson Direct dial: 04 8017 614 Mobile: 021 390585 Email: email@example.com National President: Phil Adams Direct dial: 03 4728 052 Mobile: 0274 377601 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org National Vice President: Garry Parsloe Direct dial: 09 3032 562 Mobile: 021 326261 Email: email@example.com Assistant General Secretary: Russell Mayn Direct dial: 09 3034 652 Mobile: 021 760886 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ITF Inspector: Grahame MacLaren Direct dial: 04 8017 613 Mobile: 021 2921782 Email: email@example.com Communications Officer: Victor Billot Mobile: 021 482219 Fax: 09 9251125 Address: PO Box 339, Dunedin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Victor Billot The recent shudders going through the global finance system should not be a surprise to anyone. The Maritime Union has been critical of the free market, free trade and deregulation policies that have led the world to the edge of chaos once again and predicted the outcome. The policies of deregulation and “leaving it to the market” have proved failures for the most vulnerable workers even during the economic upswings, let alone when the inevitable crash arrives. Now the time of reckoning has come. The effect on workers here and around the world will be harsh. We are entering into what may be a time of unprecedented turmoil and it is likely that unemployment and recession will be back in New Zealand by the end of the year. The inherent instability and irrationality of the global capitalist system has blown apart. The global economy has been run for the advantage of massive finance corporations driven by one motive: maximum profit. In the United States, this came to a head with the “subprime crisis.” Mortgages were given to people who were likely to have trouble paying them back, especially if the economy turned for the worse. These mortgages were then repackaged up into a range of strange and obscure ways and sold off down the line to other financiers. The United States economy has been propped up by the high speed circulation of paper across desks. The behaviour of so-called “business leaders” provide a more human insight into the crisis. Even the corporate media were appalled, as Fortune magazine awarded “101 dumbest moments in business.” In one celebrated example, the magazine reported how in August and September 2007, as his company was “racking up the largest quarterly loss in its 93-year history, Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O’Neal squeezed in 20 rounds of golf, including three rounds on three different courses in a single day.” In October 2007, O’Neal announced his retirement. He walked away with a compensation package valued at $161.5 million. I suppose he felt he had put in a fair amount of work on the greens. So much for the bad news. What can we do about it? The goal for the union movement, both industrially and politically, has to gain control over the economic system so that decisions are made for the common good. Unions need to be more assertive. If we just accept the system as it is and limit our role to trying to get the best deal possible for ourselves, then we will fail. Likewise the attitude if we look after our own employer, port or country, and disregard the fact we are part of a globalized working class bigger and potentially more powerful than ever before. Unions need to be agents of social change. The Maritime Union and its historical roots of waterfront workers and seafarers have a proud history of doing the right thing and leading the struggle. We are involved locally, nationally and internationally in the ongoing battle to set the agenda for the future. In the 2008 election we have one chance to do that. We also have a chance everyday on the job to do our part for the Union by getting involved and being an active unionist.
“They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn, But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn. We can break their haughty power; gain our freedom when we learn, That the Union makes us strong.” (Verse from union anthem Solidarity Forever) The Maritimes | October 2008 | 3
Make your vote count for working Kiwis
by Trevor Hanson General Secretary We are getting very close to our next general election and I am amazed at the "time for a change" attitude that is being pushed and shoved and promoted everyday in the New Zealand media. What is it that people supposedly want to “change”? In my view, a worker is a worker and he or she sells their labour at the highest rate they can achieve. A worker has one priority, and that is to feed and house their family in the best way possible. Race or creed does not come into it and neither should it. The only way forward for workers is to speak with a collective voice, something that our members have been proud to be part of throughout our history. On the international level, we have seen the emergence of world wide corporations pushing globalisation for their profitdriven masters. Free trade has been promoted along with other policies to divide and rule, and keep the workers in competition with each other for the crumbs, while the economic pie is divided up by managers and employers. Whether we like it or not, politics are part of our lives. Workers in the maritime industry are as vulnerable as all other New Zealand workers to changes in the laws and policies that affect our jobs. We should carefully examine where we place our vote. The parties with a track record of introducing policies that benefit the social needs of New Zealanders can really be the only choice. Already there is enough evidence from the National Party to make the average New Zealand worker extremely apprehensive. Privatisation of ACC is one such proposal. 4 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Stop and consider the consequences to yourself after an accident. Every legal effort will be made to get you off insurance by both your employer and insurer as soon as possible. National has proposed changes to industrial laws to ensure workers on a site where a union collective agreement is in place will not have to belong to the union, thus undermining all workers. Changes to allow the sale of annual holidays have also been proposed. With living costs soaring, ordinary workers will be forced to decide between time with their family or making ends meet. The well-off can afford to keep their holidays, but not the common worker. Many of our freedoms that have been clawed back since the election of Labour nine years ago will be removed. A change of government in the current world economic climate would be the worse possible scenario. National would utilise an economy in recession to introduce its anti-worker legislation on the fast track, using the old cliche TINA (there is no alternative.). We should be well aware that any promises by National to keep everything on its current level will change very soon after they are elected. I realise that I am writing this to the converted, but there are many things that as maritime workers we can do. I note with concern and some understanding the number of young New Zealanders who are not enrolled to vote. If any of your family is not enrolled, this is a good place to start. Any support and help you can give to your officials in assisting in the coming political campaign will be appreciated.
Free trade deals cause concern The Maritime Union has recently noted with concern the free trade deal signed between New Zealand and ASEAN. ASEAN is a group of South-East Asian nations including the military dictatorship of Myanmar. The new free trade deal will have been welcomed by the Generals who rule over Myanmar and crush all opposition. We have previously spoken out about the murder of Ko Moe Naung, a Seafarers’ Union of Burma (Myanmar) organizer in the Ranong region, who was tortured and killed by Burmese military forces in 2005. Free trade deals mean that New Zealand is now effectively endorsing dictatorships such as Burma which murder our brother unionists such as Ko Moe Naung. We oppose free trade and instead support trading arrangements that take into account the interests of workers.
Gangway netting The Maritime Union has a strong policy on the rigging of gangway nets. Gangway netting must be slung from the side of the ship to the opposite side. The "box rigging" of a gangway net does not meet the standards. A 1995 letter from the then Maritime Safety Authority (now Maritime New Zealand) and the Harbourmaster at the Port of Napier to Hawke’s Bay stevedores and union officials made this clear. This letter noted that "structural distortion of the accommodation ladder, for any reason, could throw persons off the accommodation ladder." The Maritime Union agrees entirely. That’s why we are dismayed that Maritime New Zealand now seem to have downgraded the requirements for gangway netting. We as workers were as responsible as anyone else to ensure nets were rigged appropriately prior to use of gangways. Within the past two years, gangways have given way on two vessels at the Port of Lyttelton. In both of these incidents the gangway net was correctly rigged, and the gangway was prevented from falling between the ship and the wharf, which could have disastrous consequences including death or serious injury. The Maritime Union has contacted the government and maritime authorities over our concerns with gangway netting practices after it became apparent that gangway netting requirements had been softened up. Ninety per cent of our membership in New Zealand must traverse gangways to gain access to their workplace. Everything possible must be done to ensure workers safety under legislation, regulation and enforcement, and as outlined in the Code of Practice for Health and Safety in Port Operations on ships in all New Zealand Ports. The Maritime Union has made it clear that if an accident occurs on a gangway that is rigged (boxed) in a way that allows persons to fall between a wharf and ship, we will take legal action against those responsible – including government agencies. In the meantime, we have alerted all branches and officials to keep an eye on gangway rigging, and demand that the correct safe procedure is used, and report any infringements.
The way forward is for greater unity
by Phil Adams National President
International scene The Maritime Union takes its international obligations seriously. Earlier in 2008 a strong delegation of MUNZ officials and members attended the MUA conference in Sydney. More recently officials have attended ITF meetings in Europe. As President I will be attending the conference of the All Japan Dockworkers Union Zen-Kowan in Tokyo this October. The international support that maritime and transport workers can extend to each other has been a key part in some of our previous struggles. We have had solidarity from many other unions including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), ILWU on the west coast of North America, and the Japanese and Korean dockworkers. In return we offer our assistance for their industrial problems. We now live in a globalized world and it is important that as workers we have a global and internationalist outlook. I have also attended a stopwork meeting of the Wellington branch of the Maritime Union, and appreciate the invitation. It is good to see branches holding regular stopwork meetings, and it is also good to see Wellington have taken the plunge and combined seafarers and watersiders into one branch. We are now all maritime workers and although we will always keep the history and distinctive culture we have as seafarers or watersiders, the way forward is for greater unity.
Elections The 2008 general election is soon. We need to elect a government that is worker friendly. The National Party’s record speaks for itself. Workers were pounded by a National Government in the 1990s. www.munz.org.nz
Do we really want to go back to the days of high unemployment, asset sales and union bashing? The current Labour-led Government has not made enough progress in all areas but has been responsible for some good changes. The removal of the Employment Contracts Act, the growth in wages and employment, Kiwisaver, boost in the minimum wage, and buyback of rail and ferries have all been good for working New Zealanders. Kiwibank and paid parental leave were good policies pushed by the Alliance in the first term of the current government, and more recently the Greens have had some pro-worker policies. New Zealand First has had a mixed record but helped to get the current casualization review underway, which is a plus. It is not enough to sit back, as workers we must take an active role in defending our interests whether industrial or political. Make sure your family, friends and workmates (especially younger people) are enrolled to vote and know the issues.
Short-term labour from overseas The Maritime Union is also concerned about the effects of short-term seasonal labour being brought into New Zealand from overseas to work in areas such as vineyards and orchards. Our Union represents workers of all races and creeds and has no problem with permanent immigrants who get the same wages and conditions as local workers. There are several problems with shortterm, casual or seasonal labour. Firstly, the default wage appears to be the minimum wage. Some employers are complaining that they have to pay for transport and accommodation of their cut price labour force. Do they want the workers to pay for it themselves? Or perhaps employers want special wage rates for overseas workers on temporary visas – perhaps wage rates below our minimum wage? Employers need to be kept under a close watch. The use of imported labour needs to be regulated to ensure the wellbeing of the workers from overseas, and to ensure that local wages and jobs are not undermined. We would also like to see an investigation of how the overseas workers are selected and treated back in their home country. The potential for corruption and exploitation is enormous, and we already know this occurs with fishing workers recruited overseas. It is not good enough for self-interested politicians and bureaucrats to avoid the tough issues and look the other way.
We have an obligation to all workers in New Zealand. So what do fruitpickers have to do with maritime workers? Simply put, if short-term casual labour imported from overseas becomes the norm in one industry, the vicious cycle will repeat itself throughout all industries. If a National Government was to come to power, they would love to use this system to further demoralize, deunionize and casualize New Zealand workers. Maritime workers have already seen the effect of Flag of Convenience shipping and fishing in New Zealand waters. Overseas, the use of short-term casual labour in ports around the world is becoming a major issue and the focus of a "Ports of Convenience" campaign by the ITF. We need to be on our guard.
Negotiations The last several months have seen a number of agreement negotiations in ports around the country. In most cases, this can be a difficult process. As we move into uncertain economic and political times, good agreements with employers are important for us all. Strong debate within branches about what we want from agreements is good, but so is standing together to ensure we get the best possible deal. A collective approach is the reason why we succeed.
“A collective approach is the reason why we succeed”
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Western Australia Offshore Meeting by Mike Clark Wellington Seafarers’ Branch President I was fortunate to attend the Maritime Union of Australia’s EBA (Enterprise Bargaining Agreement) Conference in Fremantle, Western Australia, in August 2008. Along with Wellington Seafarers Branch Secretary Joe Fleetwood, the other international guests included Stevie Todd, National Secretary of the UK RMT (Rail Maritime Transport) Union. The purpose of attending was twofold. First was to enable us to see at close hand the process the MUA use in formalizing their EBA. Second was to organize the respective two international unions, the UK RMT, and the Maritime Union of New Zealand, into a formal MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the MUA and various employers in the offshore oil and gas industry. This will assist with their need for the supply of skilled seafarers to cover the current shortage in that industry. An important part of this coverage is that any MUNZ or RMT members will relinquish their position when an Australian seafarer becomes available. They will maintain their membership in their respective national union and will be required to pay an administration fee to the MUA as they will be covered by their EBA. Another important part of the agreement is that members might not necessarily end up in the oil industry but in the blue water fleet where there is also a shortage – the offshore industry is not our sole right. On Monday 25 August the conference opened with a video of the MUA National Conference in April 2008. MUA Assistant National Secretary Mick Doleman gave a comprehensive report on the Australian offshore industry, including 6 | The Maritimes | October 2008
the importance of an ongoing relationship with the Labor Government, industrial relations legislation, the continuing growth of the industry, the new employers who are jumping on the bandwagon, and the impact of the labour shortage where UK and New Zealand members are being brought in. This was followed by an offshore report by the MUA Western Australian Secretary Chris Cain, who explained the development of West Coast ports. He also discussed the shortage of labour in the state, not only in the seafaring section but also the infrastructure of the shore-based facilities. Another important part of the agenda was the MUA commitment to the training of young Australians who choose to take on a career at sea. Chris has had a huge input in this area to get funding for the MUA to set up their own training school. The MUA vision in trying to achieve this goal will ensure future generations will have the same opportunities that we have enjoyed and also educate the next generation in the need to play a role in their Union. On Tuesday as well as the EBA conference, there was a MUA West Australia stopwork meeting which ran until lunchtime. This meeting was much the same as our own, with the only notable difference being the willingness of members to speak on issues of concern. The afternoon was taken up with a continuation of the log of claims with questions and answers on each claim being presented. The claims are presented in the same format as our own, although there are a lot more due to the larger number of vessels involved. Once the claims are submitted they are placed in categories including accommodation (linen, fridges, floor covering
etc), deck, engine room and others such as travel and expenses. Wednesday was taken up with more of the same and then the selection of delegates for the negotiation of the EBA. On Thursday and Friday morning the same process was used but this time it was the coverage of FPSO (Floating production storage and offloading facilities), or “floaters” as they are now more commonly known. There were a number of other speakers throughout the week, including WA officials. Will Tracey has spent a considerable amount of time in the past year organizing the ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) operators and divers. Ian Bray spoke about the concerns which face WA members, including the accelerated growth of the industry, shortage of labour and growth in blue water operations, fears on downgrading of qualifications, importation of labour and new operators bypassing the union. At the present time approximately 17001800 members, nearly half the seafaring members of the MUA, are in the offshore. Maritime Union of New Zealand delegate Joe Fleetwood and RMT UK delegate Stevie Todd gave a report on their countries. Throughout the week, Joe, myself, Chris, Mick and Steve attended other meetings with employers in the industry. This was a very important part of the trip as most of the offshore employers in Australia are the same companies we deal with in New Zealand. This was another well-organized Western Australian conference and we pass on a huge thank you to the WA branch officials and staff for the invite to attend. To all the other officials and delegates, thank you as well. www.munz.org.nz
Officials from the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, Maritime Union of New Zealand, Maritime Union of Australia and Australian Workers’ Union at the signing of the Onshore/Offshore Memorandum of Understanding
Memorandum of Understanding between the EPMU and MUNZ on the Onshore/Offshore Oil and Gas Industry in New Zealand and its surrounding oceans and sea. The NZEPMU and MUNZ agree to cooperation and solidarity in recruiting, organizing and collective bargaining activities within the on-shore/off-shore oil and gas industries. We will exchange and share information to each other that assists both unions in advancing our members’ interests in obtaining the best possible terms and conditions for their employment with the oil and gas industry. Furthermore we agree to honour the existing traditional membership coverage of both unions. In NZEPMU’s case they cover all those workers employed on fixed oil/gas drilling and extraction platforms, stationary drilling, extraction and storage platforms.
MUNZ covers all workers who are employed on the transportation of drilling, extraction platforms and boats and ships which are intended to become stationary drilling extraction and storage vessels, boats and ships. Also they will continue to have coverage of boats and ships that service and supply fixed drilling/extraction and storage vessels, boats and ships. Both unions will work closely in all relating to industry issues, skills, training, health and safety, and the future of energy in the New Zealand society and economy. Finally, both unions will work closely with their counterpart union in Australia at the International Transport Workers Federation.
Signed, Andrew Little (National Secretary, NZEPMU) Trevor Hanson (National Secretary, MUNZ)
“The NZEPMU and MUNZ agree to co-operation and solidarity in recruiting, organizing and collective bargaining activities within the on-shore/ off-shore oil and gas industries”
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BUS LOCKOUT The Maritime Union joined the picket lines outside the Kilbirnie Bus Depot in Wellington on Thursday 25 September to support locked out bus drivers. Over three hundred Wellington City bus drivers employed by Go Wellington were locked out for the day. Secretary of the Wellington Tramways Union Kevin O’Sullivan says in April 2004 the average driver worked rostered overtime and was paid $40,000 a year – by April 2008 the average driver had a yearly income of under $37,000. The drop in income came about when the company cut most rostered shifts back to 8 hours or fewer in 2007. This caused huge disruption to the bus service. The company claimed in the news media at the time that the disruption was caused by a drivers’ strike. There was no strike, simply a shortage of people willing to work on the low wage rates.
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The Tramways Union successfully challenged the flat rate agreement in the Employment Relations Authority, which in Janurary this year ruled the inferior contract null and void. The company cut the drivers’ rostered hours to try to get rid of the overtime rates. They wanted to force drivers to accept a flat rate agreement. Now the Wellington bus drivers are seeking to correct this injustice in their Collective Employment Agreement negotiations. The company has not offered enough money yet to restore the average drivers earnings to the level they were in 2005, let alone paying something extra to cover prive increasese since 2005. New Zealand transport unions affiliated to the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) gave their support to locked out Wellington bus drivers.
ITF affiliates in New Zealand include the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, Maritime Union of New Zealand, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, National Distribution Union, Merchant Service Guild, and Aviation and Marine Engineers Association, representing tens of thousands of New Zealand transport workers. Twelve members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) who work as operations controllers at Go Wellington refused to cross the bus drivers picket line on health and safety grounds. The Maritime Union of New Zealand offered its 100% support to the workers. Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says bus drivers have a heavy responsibility in their job but get paid abysmally low wages. “Most workers will be very sympathetic to their cause.”
Rats! A giant union rat is appearing outside McDonald’s restaurants throughout Auckland. Unite Union is asking the public to support workers who will be striking to gain pay equity with other fast food companies. “The Rat” joined McDonald’s workers at Otara McDonald’s in September as they walked off the job in protest over pay negotiations that were stalled by the company. Negotiations between Unite Union and the fast food giant have been underway since March 2008 but broke down this week after McDonald’s failed to meet the deadline for a revised offer. Unite claims that the golden arches are letting their workers slip behind the industry after refusing to make a real offer to settle the negotiations. “McDonald’s are claiming on their television ads that they care for their workers growing coffee but in New Zealand they have been dragging their feet coming back to us with any sort of reasonable offer,” said Unite organiser Tom Buckley. “Crew are paid 52c an hour less than their major competitors, some managers only earn $1.50 more than the minimum wage and a lot of experienced workers have spent years on the minimum wage. We are sick of waiting for the company to make us a reasonable offer, they said that they’d make an offer by now.” “It’s slavery pay,” said Josephine Lindsay from McDonald’s Glenn Innes. “It’s only just enough to pay the rent, you can’t live on these wages.” The union is also concerned at the lack of secure hours. McDonald’s keep every crew member on contracts with no fixed hours. This gives them no sense of job security and puts an big whip in the hands of managers by cutting their hours for any minor infraction. It opens workers up to the type of abuse that led to a McDonald’s worker in Kaiapoi winning a $15,000 award from the Employment Authority.
ITF launches new website for world’s seafarers
A major new resource for the world’s seafarers was unveiled in June 2008 at the ITF’s maritime conference in Stockholm, Sweden. www.itfseafarers.org, an innovative news, advice and support service, was launched both to press and to the hundreds of inspectors’, dockers’ and seafarers’ delegates attending the week long conference. The new site is the only ‘one stop shop’ for seafarers anywhere, irrespective of how computer literate they are or how good or bad the equipment they access it from may be. It offers them information on their health, their pay and safety and includes features such as: Crew Talk message boards; advice and help; Ship Look-up Tool showing vessel agreements and other information; Inside the Issues briefing area; interactive polls; trade union contact details, and an ITF inspectors’ blog. ITF Maritime Co-ordinator Steve Cotton explained how the new project was the result of seafarers’ pleas for web-based support that they could access from home, at sea and, in particular, during time snatched on shore leave. “Time, effort and all the expertise we can draw on has gone into getting this site right,” he said, “and with feedback from users we expect to make it better still.” The new site has taken eight months work to develop and launches in English, the international seafarers’ language. Chinese, Russian and Spanish versions will follow. Ease of use and access were built into it from the start. For more information: www.itfseafarers.org
Sousan Razani: sentenced to barbaric punishment for labour activism
Iranian workers under attack Repression against labour activists in Iran is intensifying. In recent months, there have been numerous cases of arrests and jailings. Most shocking perhaps was the sentencing of two women labour activists (including Sousan Razani, pictured) to 15 lashes and four months in prison, for the “crime” of participating in a May Day celebration. Additional cases which concern us include: Mr Abdullah Khani, 40 lashes and 91 days in prison Mr Seyed Qaleb Hosseini, 50 lashes and 6 months in prison Mr Khaled Hosseini, 30 lashes and suspended prison sentence Mr Farzad Kamangar, a Kurdish teacher, sentenced to death Mr Afshin Shams, arrested Mr Mansour Osanloo, leader of Tehran’s bus workers, in prison since July 2007. Workers around the world have called on the Iranian government to immediately release these prisoners and to cease all repression of labour activists. You can help! Send a message via the LabourStart website: http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_ campaign.cgi?c=416
For more information: www.unite.org.nz
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Box nets targeted by Union “All members should insist that proper gangway rigging is carried out”
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The Maritime Union is asking all branches and all members to insist that gangway nets are rigged correctly. There are concerns that members are using “box netted” gangways (see picture on left) to access vessels. These “box netted” gangways do not provide an adequate level of safety. Properly netted gangways (see picture on right) must be used to ensure safety. Ninety per cent of MUNZ members in New Zealand must traverse gangways to gain access to their workplace, says Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson. “They have every expectation that everything possible is done to ensure their safety under legislation, regulation and enforcement.” The Union has recently written to Maritime New Zealand about concerns that the port operations code of practice that specifies correct gangway netting has been watered down. Inconsistent application of the rules at the Port of Napier has triggered the issue. Mr Hanson says a fatality of a Russian seafarer in Dunedin some years ago alerted the Union that the rigging of gangway nets on our coast had deteriorated.
“We as workers were as responsible as anyone else to ensure nets were rigged appropriately prior to use of gangways.” Within the past two years on two different vessels, gangways have given way, possibly due to insecure bolts under the platform at the top of the gangway. In both of these incidents the net was correctly rigged, and the gangway was prevented from falling between the ship and the wharf, with potentially disastrous consequences including death or serious injury. The Union has warned Maritime New Zealand authorities that if a serious accident occurs on a a gangway that is rigged (boxed) in a manner that allows persons to fall between a wharf and ship, legal action will be taken. In the meantime, the Union is asking all branches and members to insist that proper gangway rigging is carried out, and to report any breaches to the National Office.
Local 13 and Auckland Seafarers’ Branch Maritime Union of New Zealand members show their support for the ILWU Contract negotiations 2008
Organising in global network terminals
Unions representing workers of the world’s largest port terminal operators took firm steps forward recently as they planned future strategies and vowed to increase workers’ organisation along major transport chains. Fifty port workers’ representatives from APM Terminals, Hutchison, Dubai Ports World and PSA International gathered in Antwerp, Belgium, on 18-19 September. The meeting agreed a declaration of solidarity covering workers in all global network terminals (GNTs). ITF Dockers’ Section Chair, Paddy Crumlin of the Maritime Union of Australia, explained: “We are seeking global dialogue but at the same time, we are prepared to fight for workers’ rights and good safety practices. The GNTs need to demonstrate good governance in their global relationships with their workforce. Unions here have made a strong commitment to support each other to stamp out any threats to ports workers and to their communities, and to work together to build labour solidarity throughout the transport chain.” For more information: http://www.itfglobal.org
“Just in time” Unions call for system pressures radical change workers Transport workers are facing increasing pressures as a result of attempts to speed up the movement of goods, ITF General Secretary David Cockroft told delegates at a United Nations conference in Greece in September 2008. Cockroft was speaking at a United Nations economic conference in Piraeus, which focused on ways of freeing up major bottlenecks in seaports hinterland connections, caused by growing volumes of international trade. “We are only too well aware of the desire for ever more flexibility. Well if that means longer hours, more unsocial hours, less rest and exhausted workers struggling to deliver goods at exactly the appointed hour even if they occasionally fall asleep at the wheel, forget it. We live it a world of ‘just in time’ production, of a supply chain which has become so sensitive to even small delays that it is putting intolerable pressures on ordinary workers, be they seafarers, portworkers, barge crews, truckers or even rail workers”. These problems could be avoided, however, if there was proper dialogue with workers and if they were encouraged to set up democratic worker-controlled trade unions.
The trade union movement has called for radical change as the global economic crisis unfolds. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called for the effective regulation of the financial markets accompanied by a strong focus on decent work and collective bargaining rights. The ITUC stated, “The imbalances which have seen real wages fall or stagnate, at the same time as capital has reaped record profits, need to be redressed.” European trade union leaders at a London meeting in September stated that “Never again can irresponsibility by banks and hedge funds and the rest be allowed to come close to bankrupting nations. Never again must taxpayers’ money be used to prop up institutions that continue to pay huge salaries and bonuses to their top executives. Never again can shareholder value, with directors’ bonuses linked to it, be allowed to be the sole goal of companies”. For more information: http://www.ituc-csi.org/spip.php?article2417, http://www.youtube.com/ITUCCSI http://www.etuc.org/a/5367
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ITF MARITIME CONFERENCE Stockholm, June 2008 by Garry Parsloe National Vice President
n the way to the ITF Maritime Conference that was held in Stockholm in June 2008, National Assistant Secretary Russell Mayn and I stopped off in Rotterdam at the invitation of the Dutch Waterfront Workers Union (FNU) to look at their training schools. These schools that are set up for training dock workers into the industry are amazing. I will not report on this issue as Russell has done so elsewhere in this edition. When we arrived in Sweden on Saturday 14 June 2008 we were joined by Wellington Seafarers’ Branch Secretary Joe Fleetwood. On Sunday 15 June 2008 the conference opened in Stockholm with the Dockers’ Section committee meeting. In his opening address MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin reported on the MUNZ victory in the Port of Napier. Paddy said that this was a very significant and important victory, especially how MUNZ had protected all the union jobs and that those jobs are now secured into the future. The Swedish delegate then gave a report on current disputes in Sweden and how those disputes were progressing. Neik Stam from Holland then gave a report on their union’s dispute over their pension scheme. ITF Dockers Secretary Frank Leys gave a report under the heading of “Ports of Convenience.” Frank spoke at length on the need to protect dockers’ jobs and made reference to the important MUNZ victory in the Port of Napier. MUNZ Assistant General Secretary Russell Mayn made our Union proud with his excellent presentation. He concluded his presentation by thanking the dockers for all the support from the International, which had ensured that we secured a victory in the Port of Napier. Paddy Crumlin gave a full and comprehensive report on the Maersk network. Paddy reported on the relationship that the ITF has with Maersk, and later spoke on building International solidarity in the International Dockers Trade Union Movement.
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The South African delegate addressed the question of ‘women in the workforce.’ Frank Leys gave a health and safety report making a special note of the need for a health and safety plan in all work places, and also spoke on cargo handling and cruise line luggage handling. Frank stated that this issue is complicated and there needs a lot of work on it. The above concluded day one.
Monday 16 June 2008 On Monday the 16 June 2008 the ITF Seafarers’ Section commenced with a presentation from the Swedish ITF affiliate. John Bainbridge then introduced the first paper under the heading of “IMO and Maritime Safety Issues”. This was about measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats, with concerns about servicing. The ITF will continue working with the industry group, particularly with regard to on-board release blocks with a possible aim to ban them in the future. With an increase in incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea, and particularly the increasing problem of hostage-taking in Somalian waters, it was agreed to take the matter to the UN Security Council, particularly with the acceptance of patrolling international vessels. General cargo ship safety and drainage of ro-ro vehicle decks and protection against noise on ships are new work items. There was also support for identifying the safety criteria for Floating Production Storage and Offloading Facilities (FPSOs) and Floating Storage Units (FSU), which has been sent to the STW and FSI subcommittees. The conference had a long debate around the lifeboat safety, especially who decides when it is not safe to be in the lifeboat whilst it is being lowered. The conference also had a debate around medicals for seafarers, especially where a seafarer can fail a medical because of their weight. There was also a discussion around safe manning levels as opposed to operational manning levels. As vessels safety requirements are and can nearly always be below the number of seafarers required to man the vessel for operational work patterns, there needs to be two manning levels that
all ship owners would have to comply with, one safety and one operational. The next session was headed “Maritime Review: Changes and Direction/Flag of Convenience Campaign Review”. This session was presented by Steve Cotton. Steve spoke on promoting our membership and our members. He went on to identify the strengths and weaknesses within the ITF. There was a discussion and open debate on the FOC Campaign with delegates raising questions on issues of wage rates, the level of national flags, a seafarers charter, boycotts, the right to strike, joint negotiations and labour supply. The above concluded day two.
Tuesday 17 June 2008 Day three opened with ITF Secretary David Cockroft giving an overview of operations and activities within the ITF. David then gave a report on the Flag of Convenience Campaign and other areas that the ITF is working in, such as organising young workers who are the future of the trade union movement. The conference then had an open debate on the topic of Organising Globally and Young Workers. The conference also spent some time discussing the Maersk Network. There is to be an important Maersk Network meeting set down for the 16–17 September 2008 in Antwerp. It is important that we get a better understanding of how Maersk works and complete a full mapping programme so as to stay ahead of Maersk or at least stay alongside. All speakers felt that we must continue to monitor Maersk. The next section was agenda item 11: “Work Programme”. Goals are: 1. To build the capacity and effectiveness of seafarers’ unions globally. 2. Implement organising globally. 3. Decent work for seafarers. We discussed the work programme to prioritize issues and identify how the section should change the way we do things, and what we should do to reflect our organising mandate agreed by congress. The above concluded day three. www.munz.org.nz
Wednesday 18 June 2008 The last day of the conference was set aside for the Fair Practices Committee meeting. The main issue in the morning session was the Flag of Convenience campaign review. There was a large number of delegates from all over the world who gave reports on training, ship inspections, the changing role of the inspectorate, assignment of work, accountability, the National Coordinating Committee, funding, budgeting and auditing. The afternoon session commenced with a discussion on the motions from the previous days debate. There was an update from the Seafarers’ Section meetings which had adopted a national Cabotage policy. “Cabotage is the principle of reserving a nation’s domestic maritime commerce for its own citizens. Typically, cabotage applies to transport of cargo and passengers but is often also applied to such marine industrial applications as off-shore drilling, exploitation of seabed mineral resources, dredging, fisheries and marine construction in a nation’s territorial waters. It also includes the feeder services linked to liner trades.”
In summary, cabotage is a logical extension of a country’s transport, environmental, economic, national security and employment practices. The potential for achieving these benefits for nations with no or limited cabotage policies is enormous and should be pursued with vigour. It is a prerequisite for an integrated transport policy and for the inclusion of a maritime component which makes it sustainable. This above section was followed by an update from the dockers section meetings. The conference carried a resolution which in part stated: “[This conference] . . . supports the ILWU on the West Coast of the USA and its negotiating committee, which are working to achieve a tentative agreement to bring to its 15,000 member rank and file for approval by 1 July when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement with PMA will expire.” After both the above sections the conference had an inspectorate audit report, an offshore task force report, and a campaign targets report. As you can see from the above we had a very productive conference.
“Cabotage is the principle of reserving a nation’s domestic maritime commerce for its own citizens”
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 13
by Russell Mayn Assistant General Secretary Both Garry Parsloe and I were fortunate enough to attend the Dutch Maritime Training School Scheepvaart En Transport College (STC) on our way to a recent ITF meeting. Our thanks to the Dutch Union FNV for hosting us and all the time and effort that Niek Stam, Ed van den Hoek and Geff Keizer put aside to show us around the Port of Rotterdam. The facilities available at the Maritime Training School were first class and covered all facets of our industry from seafaring through to stevedoring. In previous articles I have highlighted the lack of recognised standards and qualifications that presently exist in some areas of the maritime industry in New Zealand, mainly in the stevedoring sector. What was evident in the Port of Rotterdam was that through the training school and follow-up programmes a qualification for all aspects of the stevedoring business was in place.
Not only was this beneficial to stevedores but it meant that employers were competing on an even playing field. Companies had to have properly trained workers before they could undertake work in the Port. This in my opinion has removed the easy option of using poorly trained labour hire companies to supply labour at a discount rate. Companies can feel confident that if they spend the time and resources required to have a highly trained and skilled workforce they will not be disadvantaged when quoting for shipping contracts. In fact if the authorities moved to a more regulated industry approach we may see stevedoring companies being in a position where they can remain in business and provide sustainable safe well-remunerated work conditions to their employees.
These days casualisation is no longer due to the availability of intermittent work, it is a measure used to reduce wages, motivated by a never-ending drive to reduce the cost of stevedoring by some shipping companies. The question that needs to be asked is why is there such a difference in rates between stevedoring in Australia and New Zealand? I suspect that this never was the case before the Employment Contracts Act was introduced in New Zealand. As previously stated, the facilities available at STC were excellent, simulators for straddle and container crane driver training.
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I was fortunate to be able to have a short time in the seat of the straddle simulator and it was eerie to experience how realistic the simulator was. I never got behind the controls of the container crane simulator. This may have been due to my efforts in the straddle simulator but we spent some time in the crane simulator while stevedores were training and it was easy to see the benefits gained by having such a training aid. Perhaps no individual company in New Zealand could afford the cost of a crane simulator but it would be interesting to compare the cost of training stevedores in straddles, fork hoists and cranes against the cost of using a simulator. Firstly the cost of electricity and fuel would have to be considered and the maintenance costs required when machinery hours clocked up were taken into account.
Add to this the availability of cranes and straddles for training when ships have to be worked and the intermittent nature of the training because of this plant availability and the cost of a simulator versus traditional training methods may well reduce. More importantly the stevedore training has the advantage of training in a relatively stress free environment where he/she can hone their skills without the knowledge that a mistake during the learning process could mean real damage to equipment. The end product I am sure would be a much better process and result. An option may be to fund this sort of training imitative on a national basis where all the port companies pooled their training dollars and invested in a far superior training strategy and facility. The training provided was not just for machinery driving but encompassed lashing and all aspects of stevedoring and was not a one day wonder. Considerable time and effort has been taken to make sure that training for lashing and slinging etc is fully covered.
This involves mentoring and practical work experience with fully qualified stevedores at the coal face. One of the important parts is the emphasis that is put on safety at the workplace and the initiatives introduced that make this paramount. A small piece of background to the training school that is well worthy of mention is that in 1947 a professor of psychology Theo Rutten was commissioned to investigate the “activities and mentalities of dock labourers”. He was later appointed Minister of Education in the first Drees cabinet the following year. He reached the conclusion that it was clear as it was simple: “Dock labour definitely provided enough material for it to become a subject and the establishment of an institution that could provide this knowledge will therefore be justified”. The first vocational training opened in 1949. How many can remember the Waterfront Training Schools that existed in New Zealand before the Waterfront Commission was disbanded? Again our thanks to FNV and STC.
The European Way
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 15
HEALTH & SAFETY by Paul White Auckland Waterfront Branch Local 13
A BEAR WITH TOOTHACHE
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Tena kotou katoa. When I first started driving a straddle, I used to rush everywhere like a bear with a toothache. In the process I left my footprint on more than one or two containers. I don't drive like that any more though. There are a number of reasons why I drove like that and equally as many reasons why I don't drive like that today. Under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act there are responsibilities of the individual, responsibilities of the people in my work place and responsibilities of the employer. This article is about me as an individual and how I work in relation to the HSE Act. In future articles I will consider the HSE Act from all angles. A turning point in terms of my attitude towards driving would be my first collision with a container, it was a boomer. I learned from that experience and I have never repeated that type of incident. There was another incident that had an equally profound and lasting effect on me. It involved the work practises of a coworker. I don't know why I never noticed this particular driver before. I was working on the berth when this straddle approached to pickup a container. As I watched he glided in like a hawk lining up its prey. He eased his machine to a stop without the slightest quiver or shudder of the brakes. His spreader seemed to caress the container, he used minimum effort to lift the box, and sauntered away before accelerating when he was out of earshot. It was like watching something in slow motion; but he wasn't slow at all, graceful maybe. He is now working in Brisbane and a member of the MUA. It wasn't until I got my chance to imitate what I had seen that day that I realised the amount of skill it required. To this I day I use this example to judge my own performance. I use accuracy and safety as my motivators today, not speed. In this way I am contributing in a positive manner to the collective safety of my co workers. How can I ask my colleagues to respect my right to a safe workplace if I don't respect their right to have the same? I am responsible for my safety and the safety of those around me. The individual has an important role to play in ensuring we have a safer workplace. Experience is invaluable, here is some advice: the best cure for a toothache is prevention. Kia ora.
Ten years on:
the Patrick’s dispute and South Pacific Shipping liquidation by Mike Will 2655 Comrades, it is ten years since the lock out of the Maritime Union of Australia in the Patrick's dispute. It is also ten years since South Pacific Shipping (SPS) was placed into liquidation. The ship I was on, the Turakina, was placed under federal arrest in Sydney at Berth 5 at Darling Harbor. Looking back, it seems a long time but the memories are still vivid as though it were yesterday. The demise of SPS had a tremendous effect on our Union and the maritime industry with the loss of many jobs. The flow-on effects strained whole communities. The crew of the Turakina eventually dwindled down to two union members after four months with no pay, surviving on donations and support from both sides of the Tasman: myself and Paddy Keneally. We spent many a day in Federal Courts to get food and fuel for power to live on board. Our Australian brothers were true to our union ideals helping us with support from all sectors taking us out to May Day marches (30,000 people), putting us on buses and going to Newcastle for the day to march, have a feed and speak at meetings about our plight as seafarers and offer our support from across "the ditch". The time spent there had a big impact on me – the way they organized and gave us encouragement to stick fast. We repaid this by joining them on the "angry mile" and reporting on what the scabs were up to on the waterfront. We had an MUA cook sent to us by the Federal Courts. I was arrested for assault on two scabs and damaging Patrick's property and sentenced to four months jail. I appealed by myself and received 12 months suspended sentence. All of the crew were banned from Patrick's property. We watched grown men cry, banging their hands on metal fences until their hands bled. I remember all of us waiting for the scabs to arrive to do training. The guard that opened the gate got spat on by anyone that could reach. He was covered in spit until no one could muster any more saliva. He stood back from the gate and ripped off his shirt and just screamed.
There was a moment of silence, then everyone just laughed. He was taken away and I don't think I saw him again. There were lots of moments like that. It was quite ingenious some of the ideas guys come up with. On the ship, we were given a box of bangers and as the security guards drove past in Patrick's vans we would chuck them. Sometimes they landed inside. This resulted in a letter of complaint from the company. We also had a sling-shot that went across the poop-deck. The sound of a greasenipple flying is something to be heard I tell you. Those things whistled past like bullets for a couple of hundred metres. The security guards with balaclavas on were arseholes. They egged us on when they had to escort the crew from the ship to the gate where we joined our MUA comrades. People turned up from other unions to support the unified struggle against Howard, Reith, Costello and all their dogs. All this for one reason – to protect conditions that have been hard won by the union, the right to a fair days pay for a fair days work.
UNION HISTORY It took ten years of the court system to finally get a result out of Klaus Lower the person responsible for sending ships out to get tax breaks from the German government. This and the failure of the Trans Tasman accord and the government of the day saw people lose their jobs and livelihoods in an attempt to destroy the seafarer culture. Even though we received a small percentage of what we were owed, ten years later, 9 cents for every dollar owed, I still feel that the principle of that whole exercise sent a message to a lot of ship owners. That message is that we will not give up without a fight for our right to be employed in this industry and work under a union-negotiated contract. This can be forgotten when dollars are put upfront to test basic union principles. Coming home was mostly a non-event as the industry was still in shock from what had happened. I decided to come back to sea five years later, starting in Strait Shipping. What a culture shock, that was seeing first hand what the changes had been, but I was still proud to know that I walked up the gangway of that company as a Maritime Union member. The last time I had seen the Straitsman before that I was chucking rocks and eggs at it with my Lyttelton brothers. It is hard to write about everything that happened in that four months that we were there as the memories get a bit more vivid and animated after a few ales. It always good to catch up with other members who were involved in the lockout in Australia. The Rangitata was in Melbourne as well at the time. I think it is an important part of our history that should not be forgotten. "Out of many people one union."
Mike Will, Phil Carroll and Darryl Johnson, Auckland, 1987
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 17
ITF SHIP INSPECTIONS
ITF Inspector Grahame McLaren (left) and MUNZ Timaru Branch President Kevin Forde (right) check the ITF Agreement with the Master of the IVS Nightingale in the Port of Timaru, August 2008 (photo by Victor Billot)
“The main thing is to make sure the standard of living is up to scratch, as well as the health and safety and wellbeing of the crew”
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by Victor Billot The new New Zealand Inspector for the ITF is Grahame McLaren. Based at the national office of the Maritime Union in Wellington, a big part of Grahame’s work is to inspect ships as part of the global campaign to get ITF agreements for all crews. Grahame first shipped out in January 1978 and has spent most of the last thirty years as a seafarer, apart from a couple of short breaks, including training as a computer technician. As part of an ITF inspection, he says, “The main thing is to make sure the standard of living is up to scratch, as well as the health and safety and wellbeing of the crew.” Grahame will visit ports throughout New Zealand, where he will work with the local MUNZ branch to organize an inspection on board vessels. Often he will be accompanied on an inspection by the local official of delegates.
If the ship is covered by an ITF agreement, Grahame will ask the Master to go over the paperwork, which can include the agreement, contracts, payment and overtime records, safety and manning records. However many vessels do not have ITF agreements, and the ITF is refused access to any information about the crew. In this case, Grahame will ask the Master to ensure that the owners are informed that the ITF has visited the vessel and wish to get an ITF agreement to cover the crew. Often Grahame will have to help with overseas seafarers who are having problems on their vessel. A recent situation onboard the Koreanflagged Hijhny occurred when a Filipino bosun was sacked for what the owners claimed was “incompetence.” They wanted him to pay for his return fare from Lyttelton where he was to be repatriated from. The bosun’s family back in the Phillippines was without any money. However, after the ITF intervened, the bosun was flown home and the ITF received written confirmation that he had received wages due.
ILWU dockers back striking crew
MUNZ Communications Officer Victor Billot, MUNZ Port Chalmers Dunedin Branch executive member Stuart Crawford and ITF Inspector Grahame MacLaren aboard the Alexandra Rickmers, Port Chalmers, September 2008
More recently, I accompanied Grahame on board the Cap Beaufort at Port Chalmers, which does not yet have an ITF agreement. We received a frosty reception from the Polish Master, who refused to let us see any documentation. However, following the ITF visit, Grahame was contacted by the owners who said the Cap Beaufort was in the process of receiving an ITF agreement Their company was the owner of more than 80 container vessels which are all covered by valid special agreements signed with ITF Germany. The ITF is also carrying out a campaign on the Seatrade company. This Dutch-based company has the largest reefer fleet in the world. 75% of its approximately 140 vessels have no ITF agreement. Grahame says an ITF inspection was recently carried out on the vessel in Mount Maunganui by himself and MUNZ branch officials. Since that inspection, Grahame says five of the six Seatrade vessels operating in New Zealand waters without an ITF agreement have been pulled. They have been replaced by vessels with ITF agreements. Grahame says he isn’t sure if this is a result of ITF actions, but it was a pleasing result regardless. The Maritime Union encourages all its members to support the work of the ITF to which we are an affiliate.
ITF Co-ordinator moves on after 37 years with Union ITF New Zealand Co-ordinator Kathy Whelan has moved on after 37 years in the job. The ITF Co-ordinators meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, 17 June 2008, marked this with the following statement: At this meeting of ITF Co-ordinators held in Stockholm, Sweden, the FOC Co-ordinators meeting recognizes the enormous contribution given by Kathy Whelan to the maritime industry and the Flag of Convenience (FOC) campaign. Over the past 37 years, Kathy has worked tirelessly to support the rights of national workers in New Zealand along with international seafarers worldwide. As the New Zealand FOC Co-ordinator, Kathy has supported thousands of seafarers who would otherwise have been left to the mercy of the FOC system and rogue operators. Her courage and dedication will serve as a model to the entire worldwide inspectorate and we take this opportunity to thank her for her service. As for Kathy’s future pursuits, the Coordinators group wish her all the best health, happiness and good fortune in whatever course her career takes her. In solidarity, her friends of the worldwide inspectorate, Peter Lovkvist (Chairperson)
Crew members on the Liberian flagged Cap Spencer were able to call off a strike in Long Beach this week after winning all their demands with the help of local dockworkers. The crew contacted ITF inspector Stefan Mueller-Dombois, asking for help with wages and working conditions problems. As requested, he put them in touch with the authorities and also alerted fellow ILWU members that there were problems onboard. Unable to resolve their problems the crew called a strike on Tuesday, which they announced by holding up notices saying “On Strike” and “Low Wages and Conditions”. The dockers offloading the ship recognised these as a legitimate picket line, ceased operations and disembarked the vessel. Later that day with the ITF and ILWU’s help the crew were able to secure back wages, letters of indemnity and an ITFapproved Verdi agreement. ILWU International Affairs Director Ray Familathe commented: “This sends a clear message that ILWU dockworkers support the efforts of seafarers to join unions and better their working conditions. “Longshoremen from the ILWU well know that solidarity between seafarers and dockworkers is the way to stamp out union busting on the docks and the ships that seafarers work on. With the many attacks on maritime labour in this global economy, a union that gives solidarity today may be in need of solidarity tomorrow.” Stefan Mueller-Dombois described the result as significant and satisfying and asked his colleagues in New Zealand and Australia to check that all was well on the vessel when it reached its next ports of call. MUNZ checked the vessel when it arrived in Auckland to ensure everything was in order.
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 19
FLAG OF CONVENIENCE
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FLAGS OF CONVENIENCE The ITF is unique amongst international trade union organisations in having a powerful influence on wages and conditions of one particular group of workers: seafarers working on ships flying Flags of Convenience (FOCs). FOCs provide a means of avoiding labour regulation in the country of ownership, and become a vehicle for paying low wages and forcing long hours of work and unsafe working conditions. Since FOC ships have no real nationality, they are beyond the reach of any single national seafarers’ trade union. The ITF has therefore been obliged to take on internationally the role traditionally exercised by national trade unions – to organise and negotiate on behalf of FOC crews. For 50 years the ITF, through its affiliated seafarers’ and dockers’ unions, has been waging a vigorous campaign against shipowners who abandon the flag of their own country in search of the cheapest possible crews and the lowest possible training and safety standards for their ships. In defining an FOC the ITF takes as its most important criterion whether the nationality of the shipowner is the same as the nationality of the flag. In 1974 the ITF defined an FOC as: “Where beneficial ownership and control of a vessel is found to lie elsewhere than in the country of the flag the vessel is flying, the vessel is considered as sailing under a flag of convenience.” The ITF campaign against flags of convenience, which was formally launched at the 1948 World Congress in Oslo in Norway, has two elements: • A political campaign designed to establish by international governmental agreement a genuine link between the flag a ship flies and the nationality or residence of its owners, managers and seafarers, and so eliminate the flag of convenience system entirely; • An industrial campaign designed to ensure that seafarers who serve on flag of convenience ships, whatever their nationality, are protected from exploitation by shipowners.
ITF agreements Over the past 50 years the ITF’s maritime affiliates have developed a set of policies which seek to establish minimum acceptable standards applicable to seafarers serving on FOC vessels.
The policies form the basis of an ITF Standard Collective Agreement which sets the wages and working conditions for all crew on Flag of Convenience vessels irrespective of nationality. It is the only agreement normally available to shipowners who run into industrial action. All FOC vessels covered by an ITF-acceptable agreement are issued an ITF Blue Certificate by the ITF Secretariat, which signifies the ITF’s acceptance of the wages and working conditions on board. About a quarter of all FOC vessels are currently covered by ITF agreements, thus giving direct protection to over 123,000 seafarers.
Compliance with ITF-recognised agreements is monitored by a network of over 130 ITF inspectors in ports throughout the world.
Inspectors monitor wages and conditions ITF inspectors are union officials who are either full time or part time working directly with the ITF. By inspecting FOC ships they monitor the payment of wages and other social and employment conditions and if necessary take action to enforce ITF policy. In recent years the number of inspectors has doubled and they are now to be found in ports in every region of the world.
The FOC campaign is the joint responsibility of the Seafarers’ and Dockers’ Sections and it is the Fair Practices Committee (FPC) which has, since 1952, provided the key forum by which both sections’ representatives have come together to review the day to day running and effectiveness of the Campaign.
Involvement of waterfront unions The involvement of the waterfront unions, whether through direct action or through co-operation with seafarers’ unions, has continued to be vital to the success of the campaign. The FPC is elected at each congress by a joint conference of the Seafarers’ and Dockers’ Sections. It usually meets once a year (around May - June). Between meetings, urgent matters may be referred to the Fair Practices Committee Steering Group, which deals with matters connected with the approval of collective agreements and noncompliance with ITF policy by ITF maritime affiliates, monitors and develops the strategy and direction of the FOC campaign, and considers new initiatives and means for expanding and developing the FOC campaign. The role of the FPC steering group is to monitor the activities of the ITF Inspectors and to make recommendations to the appropriate ITF bodies on the practical implementation of FOC policies and on any other matter relating to the effectiveness of the campaign. While the political campaign has not so far succeeded in preventing a constant growth in ships using FOC registers, the industrial campaign has succeeded in enforcing decent minimum wages and conditions on board nearly 5,000 FOC ships. In addition, the ITF has become the standard-bearer for exploited and mistreated seafarers, irrespective of nationality or trade union membership, throughout the world. Every year millions of dollars are recovered by the ITF and its affiliated unions in backpay and in compensation for death or injury on behalf of seafarers who have nowhere else to turn. For more information, see http://www.itfglobal.org/flags-convenience/index.cfm
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 21
HEALTH & SAFETY by James Boucher
On the waterside: Port Otago crane operator Michael Lysaght and training co-ordinator Alan Middleditch
Third-shift watersiders get the job done
When it comes to burning the candle at both ends, few people do it like the watersiders working the “third shift” at Port Otago Limited in Port Chalmers. Port Otago Ltd Training Co-ordinator Alan Middleditch said the watersiders had multiple roles, but third shift work was usually only carried out on ships. “That shift runs from 2300 to 0700 and includes crane drivers, straddle carriers, people working on the ship and on the wharf and the support people such as the supervisor, planner and controller,” Mr Middleditch said. He said third shift meant working from 7am until 3pm, having eight hours off and then driving back to work from 11pm to 7am again. “You never know which days you are going to have off, which leads to shift lag, which is similar to jet lag,” Mr Middleditch said. “It affects different people in different ways but a common complaint is that it leads to insomnia and some studies have shown that it can lead to things like diabetes.” It wasn’t uncommon to find people asleep on their machines while awaiting their next task, he said. “People can get grumpy with a lack of sleep so the boss has to be reasonably diplomatic. Things tend to slow down a lot when you’re working under those conditions, including people’s speech.” Focusing was the key, Mr Middleditch said when it came to what they called “high concentration” jobs. “We have cranes worth $11 million lifting up to 30 tonnes and there’s always potential for injury or damage. “Straddle drivers operate 60-tonne machines [worth] $1.5 million, lifting 30 tonnes at speeds of up to 25kmh with a margin of error of 300mm. You really have to be focused on what you’re doing.” Mr Middleditch said despite the rigours of the job most people realised the importance of performing to the best of their ability. “It comes down to productivity, and if we’re not performing the shipping companies will go elsewhere and we’d all be out of a job. It’s as simple as that.” This article and photo by James Boucher originally appeared in the Dunedin Star newspaper and is reproduced with permission
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FREE MARKET TRIP TO LOWER WAGE FUTURE By Peter Lyons Basic grocery items that cost $130 last year now cost $185. Each Sunday I traipse up to Pak’N Save to do the shopping. What cost me $130 last year for basic grocery items now costs $185 for a household of two. There are few luxuries. The other night I caught a taxi home. The driver said he was returning with his family to Pakistan. He believed the opportunities were better, particularly the prospect of owning their own home. He felt the cost of living in New Zealand was too high for a low-wage economy. The economic reforms of the past 25 years were aimed at achieving economic prosperity. So what has gone wrong? In the past few decades New Zealand has embraced the global marketplace with an enthusiasm matched by few other countries. We are often mentioned in economic literature as a laboratory of free market capitalism. We rank with Chile as the poster boy of this doctrine. So why, after almost 25 years of privatisation, deregulation and free trade are many Kiwis struggling to own their own homes and pay the weekly bills? We have applied a textbook economic model of capitalism to a real society. The model provides no allowance for the context in which it is applied. For example it assumes competitive markets to achieve efficient outcomes for consumers. In reality the small size of New Zealand means truly competitive markets are rare. The model assumes that people base economic decisions on full information. Many investors in finance companies would dispute this assumption. www.munz.org.nz
The model prescribed privatisation so we sold Telecom, BNZ, Air New Zealand, the railways and large parts of the electricity sector. The rationale was that private ownership and competition encouraged efficiency and benefited consumers. The reality has been Telecom acting like a monopoly and stonewalling broadband access and other telecommunications technology. It has meant significant under-investment in infrastructure such as electricity generation and rail facilities. It has led to the partial buy-back of Air New Zealand and the repurchase of the railways in the belated realisation that these are strategic assets that cannot be allowed to fail. Throughout this process there has been a huge transfer of general public wealth to limited private hands. The model prescribed deregulation to remove laws restricting competition and foreign ownership. This would encourage more competition and efficiency. As a result our banking system is now largely foreign owned. A recent report points out that New Zealand’s credit rating is now dependent on the decisions of its foreign-owned banks. The deregulation of the finance sector has been a key factor in the lending splurge in recent years that is now unravelling. Under deregulation banks operating in New Zealand have been able to access funds from abroad with no direct controls on their lending activities. Our finance sector has few regulatory controls. This has contributed to the finance company debacle. Unwary and naive investors are very vulnerable. It is assumed that market discipline will ensure that lending is prudent and above board.
The credit crisis abroad and local finance company collapses illustrate the absurdity of this assumption. Unfettered financial markets usually end in disaster. Examples from history include the Wall Street Crash, the US savings and loan scandals of the 1980s and the 1997 Asian crisis. Unwise bank lending also contributed to our sharemarket meltdown in 1987. The financial sector has always been the Achilles heel of free markets. The model prescribed free trade as the avenue to economic prosperity. New Zealand lowered its trade barriers with a vengeance. After almost 20 years of free trade we are back to a heavy reliance on dairy exports circa 1972. No country has become wealthy through a reliance on agricultural exports alone. Free trade is based on the concept of specialisation, yet it is possible for a country to specialise in activities that ensure it remains relatively poor. A country producing bananas is never going to enjoy the same standard of living as a country specialising in IT. Agricultural and service-based economies tend to be lower wage societies. Most developed nations got rich through industrialisation policies based on selective protectionism. This has allowed them to produce high valued added products ensuring a higher standard of living. The recent failure of the WTO trade negotiations highlights the hypocrisy of developed nations in preaching free trade but practising the opposite. The free market model prescribed controlling inflation. In the past few years the Reserve Bank has maintained high interest rates to reduce inflationary pressures. This has led to a bizarre circular process where high interest rates attract funds from overseas which have been pumped into our housing market. This led to further inflationary pressures requiring higher interest rates. We have been using overseas money to bid up our own house prices. So we now live in expensive houses but struggle to pay the bills. High interest rates resulted in an overvalued exchange rate. This, coupled with a blind adherence to free trade, has acted as a scorched earth policy to our manufacturing sector. The real miracle is that any of these firms have survived. The survivors are the real heroes of our economy. New Zealand’s experiences over the past few decades should be a warning that a pure free market economy exists only in textbook models and the mathematical imaginings of academic economists. Peter Lyons teaches Economics at St Peter’s College in Epsom and has authored several economics texts.
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 23
WHAT UNIONS WANT IN 2008 The Council of Trade Unions supports the election of a worker-friendly government in 2008 which will deliver progressive policies in the interests of workers, their families and communities. Our main objective is to improve the wellbeing of working people and their families. The CTU acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand and formally acknowledges this through Te Runanga o Nga Kaimahi Maori o Aotearoa (Te Runanga) the Maori arm of Te Kauae Kaimahi (CTU), which represents approximately 60,000 Maori workers. The CTU represents over 40 affiliated unions, which have over 350,000 members in total. As such, we are a large democratic organisation with a vital interest in a wide range of policy issues.
A lot done but much more to do The CTU acknowledges that much has been done in recent years to listen to the concerns of workers. Improvements have been made to employment rights, holidays, the minimum wage, state sector pay and conditions, and in many more areas. There have been more jobs and more support for workers through paid parental leave, cheaper visits to the doctor and family tax credits. But the fact remains that we have relatively low wages embedded in our labour market, collective bargaining coverage is at only 9 percent in the private sector, and unions are not adequately resourced to support workers in the context of globalisation and economic transformation. The key policy position for the CTU is to support measures which are integrated and balanced around the objective of a high wage, high skill, high trust quality economy that is sustainable, socially just, and is supported by a strong state sector. 24 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Wages Increase the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage and remove the new entrants’ rate and trainee rate. Amend ERA to ensure more workers can benefit from collective bargaining. Support union capacity to deliver improved wages and conditions for workers. Implement good employer and responsible contractor policies in the state sector. Lift investment in skills and technology and improve workplace practices to boost productivity. An ongoing programme to close the gender pay gap.
Employment relations and the minimum code Recognise that unions are legitimate representatives of workers that workers benefit from union representation, and ensure that law and policy supports and recognises the representation of workers by unions regardless of where they work. Ensure all workers, including those on low wages, have the ability to negotiate through unions, including at an industry level and in multi-employer collective agreements, for improved wages and conditions, and have opportunities for development and training. Ensure that the ERA fully complies with the ILO Convention 87 in respect of the right to strike. Introduce a legal entitlement to minimum redundancy compensation. Provide greater protections for casual workers, contract workers and those with precarious work arrangements generally. Legalise collective bargaining by specified contractors and extend minimum employment standards to these groups. Increase paid parental leave to 26 weeks and increase the payments.
Promote opportunities for an increasingly diverse workforce, including older workers, disabled workers, migrant workers and other groups. Strong public services Oppose user pays in public services. Promote collective bargaining in the public sector. Ensure that the “good employer” EEO obligations in the Crown Entities Act 2004 are properly monitored and resourced. Oppose privatisation and public-private partnerships that introduce the profit motive into public services. Support transparent agreements which entrench quality union- employer relationships in the state sector.
Women’s policy Accelerate the Pay and Employment Equity Plan of Action and require state sector employers to take respond to practices identified as causing gender pay equity. Increase paid parental leave initially to 26 weeks, progressively to 56 weeks, including 4 weeks leave for the other parent. Family friendly policies to improve worklife balance. Greater promotion and financial support to recruit more young women, Maori, Pacific and people with disabilities into modern apprenticeships. That the right to request flexible working hours be available to all workers.
Economic policy Introduce tax policy changes, including a more progressive income tax scale. Lift the real value of benefits, and index them to wage movements. Develop, implement and monitor a plan to end poverty, with a particular focus on the impacts of child poverty. Inflation adjust KiwiSaver tax credits and phase in compulsory employer contributions to all workers at 9% of gross wages. Impose new capital adequacy requirements and ethical lending practices on banks. www.munz.org.nz
ELECTION 2008 Amend the Reserve Bank Act and reword the Policy Targets Agreement by making specific reference to the impact of a high exchange rate on export performance and employment; give monetary policy decisions to the Board of RBNZ; introduce a more comprehensive capital gains tax by reviewing current wording in the Income Tax Act, and remove the ability to offset expenses in rental properties.
Trade Support trade promotion and fair trade policies and practice that reflect a commitment to economic development and social equity in New Zealand and internationally. Not agree to any limitations on the state’s ability to govern or regulate any area of activity in the public interest. Strengthen the New Zealand Trade and Labour Framework. Oppose commitments on Mode 4 in bilateral and regional free trade agreements. Increase overseas aid with the aim of reaching 0.7% of GNI.
Environment Investment in public transport, home insulation, solar water heating and other energy efficiency initiatives. Support a “just transition” approach to climate change in respect of firms and workers affected by emissions trading. Work with social partners, tertiary education organisations and other stakeholders to develop skills for sustainability and “green jobs”. Greater promotion of quadruple-bottomline reporting.
Industry partnerships Establish industry meetings in all major sectors to scope new and sustainable industry partnerships. Review the Textiles, Clothing, Footwear and Carpets Strategy and support industry development and modernisation in these sectors. Provide transitional support for workers in the Textiles, Clothing, Footwear and Carpets industry impacted by the NZChina Free Trade Agreement and other agreements. Continue to provide support for industry groups such as the Tripartite Meat Industry Group, the Sea Change and the Maritime Transport Sector Reference Group, and the Horticulture & Viticulture Seasonal Labour Strategy. MSD Industry Partnerships should promote decent work in all their engagements, build transferrable skills and not subsidise training that employers should be providing.
Occupational safety and health and ACC The retention of ACC as a public agency providing the full range of accident prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and compensation services. The development of safe systems of work within the workplace focussing on all hazards, including psychosocial hazards and work organisation. The development of guidelines on maximum exposure limits to substances which are hazardous to health and the regulation of their use within the workplace, including monitoring and enforcement. The development and effective resourcing of the elected worker health and safety representative system with trained representatives having effective rights and roles in the development of best practice codes at industry level.
Industry training Increase participation in quality industry training with particular attention to increasing enrolments, completion rates and the range of industries where training is being undertaken by women, Maori, Pacific peoples and those from lower socio-economic groups. Increase funding for language, literacy and numeracy workplace initiatives. Recognise the role of unions and workers as social partners in learning for work, including ITO involvement of workers/ learners and employers in strategic industry planning. Continue support for Skill NZ and the unified skills strategy. Investigate those sectors where there is no current Industry Training Organisation so that recommendations can be made to ensure coverage applies.
Health That cost barriers to accessing primary health care are reduced and the significant efforts to date to reduce user charges in primary care are continued. No further privatisation and contracting out of DHB-provided services.
That a national hospital strategy, complementary with existing health strategies, be developed which will focus on more efficiency and effectiveness of health services, greater cohesion and improved co-ordination between hospital and other health services. That collective bargaining is promoted throughout the health and disability sector as an essential part of developing and maintaining safer, higher quality and more accountable health and disability support services. That more attention be paid to improved recruitment and retention, safe staffing and healthy work environments, our reliance on overseas health professional and the growing international skill shortages of health workers and professionals.
Housing Support housing policy initiatives which recognise that the health and well-being of workers and their families depends on access to quality affordable housing. Address supply issues through more state housing, regulations against land-banking, affordable housing zones, incentives for brownfield development, integrated development of housing and transport, and improvements in the supply of skilled labour. Introduce more community and healthy third sector housing initiatives.
Transport Complete the investment in rail, including electrification and the development and expansion of urban rail. Amend s198 of the Maritime Transport Act to ensure that domestic coastal shipping is not disadvantaged in relation to foreign ships. Tenders for public transport services to be considered net of labour costs with provision for local government, employer and union participation in the setting of wages and conditions and funding agreements determined accordingly. Implement the Sea Change strategy. For more information and policies: http://union.org.nz/news/2008/unions-release-electionpolicy-statement
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 25
MEXICO ITF MEETING
ITF OFFSHORE TASKFORCE
by Joe Fleetwood Wellington Seafarers’ Secretary The ITF Offshore Task Force Group Conference (OTFG) was opened in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, on 17 September 2008 by the local ITF Mexican affiliate and government representatives. The chair of the Task Force Group, Norrie McVicar, welcomed all attending the 11th OTFG gathering in Compeche, Mexico. The purpose of holding the OTFG in Mexico was to show the consortium of multinational employers which exploits the local labour in the Gulf of Mexico that local ITF affiliates have the international backing of the ITF and all the international affiliates that work in the oil and gas industry in the world. In attendance were around 70 delegates from nations including United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Norway, East Timor, Indonesia, Finland, Russia, India, Brazil, and Mexico. There are four new countries applying to join the OTFG. This will be decided at the next ITF Fair Practice Committee meeting held early next year. I delivered an indepth country report on the steady growth of the New Zealand oil and gas industry. I noted the joint Union Memorandum of Understanding we have signed with the EPMU for our own offshore, and the contribution MUNZ can and will make if accepted as a member of the ITF Offshore Task Force Group.
26 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Our brothers and sisters have a very hard time ahead with the continual struggle to organise and secure decent wages and conditions for the workers in the Gulf. One of the richest industries in the world wants to pay a pittance in return for massive profits. There are approximately 55,000 workers on individual contracts in the Gulf with about 3% entitled to have a recognised collective agreement. There is a massive problem with low union membership made worse by “Unions of Convenience”, commonly known in our neck of the woods as Yellow Associations. These organizations are set up by a lawyer who will charge the company US$500 per month, multiplied by 3000 individual agreements, equalling a lot of money made by leeching and preying on the working class. Inside these disgraceful contracts the workers are made to presign their own termination papers so the employer can dispose of them when they want. These are the kind of people we are up against in the corporate capitalist system. There is a massive problem with the lack of enforceable health and safety rules and regulations with many workers maimed and killed, with little or no compensation. Billions of dollars come out of the Gulf and nothing goes into the infrastructure for helping the people of Mexico. There are many maritime incidents that are not reported, and few marine inspections.
Health and safety Other discussion included the need for world training in industry modules. Why is this is necessary? In the North Sea, four oil rig disasters resulted in deaths of 22, 167, 11 and 123 workers. As a result, the North Sea now has the strictest health and safety rules and regulations in the world. We discussed collective bargaining, the development of areas like East Timor, Indonesia and Nigeria, all with massive natural resources. There is a necessity to get all the genuine unions in our industry working together, and we need to address the world wide problem of Yellow Associations. An ITF diving agreement based on UK document as a bench mark was also discussed.
Country reports and developments. MUA Assistant Secretary Mick Doleman was elected as the chair for the Pacific Indonesian region. There was a meeting of the Timor Leste (East Timor) regional group, which includes MUNZ, the MUA, Norway, Indonesia, Timor Leste and the ITF, and Singapore has been invited to join. I would like to thank the ITF Mexican affiliate for hosting the OTFG and there great hospitality. On behalf of the Maritime Union of New Zealand, thank you.
Higher wages: worth voting for New Zealand can achieve a high wage, high skill and highly productive economy. The best way to get there is through rising real wages, a decent minimum wage, collective bargaining and higher productivity. Productivity is rising but real wages are not. Structural changes are needed to break out of the low wage rut. The Labour Government has been moving in the right direction, setting a positive example in the public sector. But National is offering a quick fix of large tax cuts and wages stuck on “low” into the long term. But tax cuts are no substitute for wage increases. Without higher wages, there is no incentive for employees to work smarter or for employers to invest in technology and training. The CTU has a six-point plan to break the mould and propel all New Zealanders toward a more prosperous future.
Increase the minimum wage to at least $15ph Lifting the minimum wage won’t cost jobs as National claims because demand for labour is still strong. In fact, when the minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds rose by 41 percent over two years, these young people went out and worked more hours.
More collective bargaining For historic reasons, employers fear collective bargaining, yet without it, New Zealand can’t move out of the low wagelow skill trap. Employers know they need industry strategies for export promotion, skills development and innovation. But they are slow to realise the benefits of industry bargaining. 2000-04: corporate profits rose 11 percent a year 1997-2002: CEO pay rises 5.3% a year 1993-2003: average employee compensation rose 0.7% a year Industry bargaining is widespread in Australia. We need it here. And it needs to be bargaining based on democratic union processes, not a non-union bargaining model to undermine collective worker rights.
Build union capacity The low paid are hit hard when unions can’t function effectively. Support for unions could include more research, expanded mediation services, funding for bargaining initiatives and advocacy training.
“Good employer” and “responsible contractor” policies in the state sector The state contracts out some huge chunks of work, for example in disability support and elderly care, but pay rates can be dismal. The government needs to encourage employers who invest in training, offer secure employment and don’t have a record of unjustified dismissals.
Despite this, since 1988, labour productivity in New Zealand has increased by around 42 percent – yet real wages have barely moved. Workers will not give their best efforts to increase productivity if all the benefits are kept by employers, including foreign owners of New Zealand firms. We need more capital, more training and better workplace relations.
Close the gender gap Women earn around 87 percent of what men earn. Women are more likely to be in low paid work, and in jobs where skills are not recognised or undervalued. Collective bargaining is an important tool in reducing the gender pay gap.
Increased productivity In Australia, productivity rose faster in the 1990s because wages rose and businesses invested in technology. In New Zealand, employers stuck with cheap labour and old equipment, and many failed to invest in training.
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 27
Who wins if we get a free trade deal with the United States? by Bill Rosenberg As we have learned from the China FTA, we would be foolish to listen uncritically to the promises already being made for a trade deal with the US. The US drives a hard bargain. As one of New Zealand’s most experienced trade negotiators, Dr John Wood, has described the way the US negotiated: “The United States’ underlying stance was that the other negotiating party should either accept its proposals, or adjust to the reality of them anyway.” In other words, take it or leave it. The desperation shown by a succession of New Zealand governments for such a deal, plus our almost complete absence of bargaining chips in existing tariffs, will further undermine our weak position. Figures of $1 billion in gains are being thrown around freely. They are a mirage and have no objective basis. We can be sure that the powerful, highly subsidised agriculture lobby in the US will bitterly resist free access for our dairy, meat and other agricultural products. For many important products (like the deal done with Australia) access will be decades from signing, and by then many other countries will also have access. It will not be a free trade deal except in name. To obtain even such small concessions, the U.S. will make demands in return. We can deduce these from its official publications. The U.S. government publishes an annual report on “Foreign Trade Barriers”. The 2008 report lists what it regards as New Zealand “trade barriers” that it wants modified or removed. The Overseas Investment Act provides for some screening of overseas investment. The U.S. report states: “The United States has raised concerns about the continued use of this screening mechanism.” Removing it would allow overseas corporations and individuals a free-for-all in purchases of land, acquisition of strategic assets on sensitive land (such as Auckland International Airport), reversing the recent regulation that allows the government to scrutinise such acquisitions, and a freefor-all in purchases of fishing quota in our economic zone.
Huge U.S. pharmaceutical companies resent the bargaining power of Pharmac, which holds down the costs of medicines to New Zealand, saving us probably hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The U.S. report makes clear it wants to reduce Pharmac’s power, and insisted on similar provisions in its FTA with Australia. It would also like us to lengthen the patent protections on those companies’ drugs, preventing competition for longer. The U.S. does not like our caution in allowing the introduction of GE products, and our biotechnology protections in general. It has raised concerns in meetings under an existing Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and will attack those protections in these negotiations. Neither does it like our requirements for labelling GE foods.
Further demands It also thinks our controls on agricultural imports to prevent entry of diseases – such as beef with mad cow disease, and diseased poultry – are too tough. It has repeatedly called for those controls be weakened. Watch out for further demands in the negotiations. One of the big costs to Australia in signing its FTA with the U.S. was in copyright. The US insisted on much more stringent rules which would protect the profits of its huge entertainment and software companies. Australian consumers, libraries, and educational institutions all face additional costs and bureaucracy as a result. The US report signals similar objectives. Services will be a primary focus of negotiations. The U.S. has powerful transnational companies interested in further commercialisation of our public services such as education, health, and environmental services. The existing P4 agreement is structured so that all services are opened up in this way unless they are explicitly excluded. The U.S. will want its corporations to have access to central and local government purchases and contracts on an equal basis with New Zealand firms. That counts out use of these substantial purchases to assist New Zealand’s economic development. New Zealand companies will in theory have access to U.S. government contracts in return, but will in fact be facing huge competition and a range of barriers at state and local government level.
A new and disturbing development is the intention to extend the existing agreement into investment. As well as the effects on our Overseas Investment Act already described, this would allow corporations to sue governments for compensation or reversal of laws when their profits are threatened. Hearings take place in secret, before private tribunals.
Privatizations gone wrong There is a growing number of cases that have been made public which frequently concern privatisations which (like several of ours) have gone wrong. Governments in North and South America have faced numerous claims, and some in the South are now withdrawing from these arrangements. Argentina, for example, which had to take drastic action in the interests of its people during its recent financial crisis, has been subject to hundreds of millions of dollars of claims. These agreements would also further restrict our ability to manage our economy during financial crises such as that currently reaching a boil in the U.S., and make both central and local government actions vulnerable to expensive challenge in international tribunals. Because this agreement will not only be with the U.S. but also the existing P4 agreement signatories, New Zealand will find itself with little choice in who it is giving preferential access to when the agreement expands, as is anticipated. In theory it could do different deals with new signatories; in practice it will have limited choice. In March, one of the world’s best-known economists, prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, recently warned New Zealand off a trade deal with the U.S. “Most of these free trade agreements are not good deals – they’re managed trade agreements and they’re mostly managed for the advantage of the United States, which has the bulk of the negotiating power.” He said there was no real negotiation and “one can’t think that New Zealand would ever get anything that it cares about.” New Zealand’s agriculture interests are head to head against those of the powerful American agricultural lobby. Stiglitz warned: “You’ll lose”. Bill Rosenberg researches and writes on international economic matters. For more information: http://nznotforsale.org
28 | The Maritimes | October 2008
This cartoon is reproduced with the kind permission of Mike Moreu
New Zealand signs free trade deal – with a regime that murders workers A free trade deal that New Zealand has signed with ASEAN nations, including the military dictatorship of Myanmar, is bad for workers. Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says a free trade deal including Myanmar will boost the violently antiworker regime in Myanmar and threatened workers rights. He says the Maritime Union has many concerns about the treatment of Burmese maritime workers, some of whom work in New Zealand waters, and who have been mistreated and abused in the past. The Maritime Union has previously spoken out about the murder of Ko Moe Naung, a Seafarers’ Union of Burma (Myanmar) organizer in the Ranong region, who was killed by Burmese military forces on on 19 May 2005. The Seafarers’ Union of Burma is a fellow affiliate with the Maritime Union of New Zealand to the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
The International Mining and Maritime Conference held in Long Beach, California, USA in 2005 was dedicated to Ko Moe Naung. A statement from the Conference reads “in dedicating this conference to the memory of Ko Moe Naung we recognise the selfless dedication of the Seafarers Union of Burma organizer Ko Moe Naung to his countrymen and women and to the international trade union movement. “The murderous military regime responsible for his prolonged torture and subsequent death on the 20 May 2005 must be held responsible and be exposed to the international community.” Ko Moe was tortured to death over three hours during interrogation at 8-Mile Village Army Base LIR 431 in Kawthaung, Burma. He was targeted by the Myanmar regime as he was a dedicated trade union leader who was organising Burmese fishermen and migrant workers from Burma at the Ranong area.
Free trade deals mean that New Zealand is now effectively endorsing dictatorships such as Burma which murder workers such as Ko Moe Naung. The Maritime Union has a long history of opposing repressive regimes, refusing to work on American nuclear warships in New Zealand harbours and supporting the struggle against apartheid, says Mr Hanson. “New Zealand waterfront workers refused to load pig iron for Japan before World War 2, which they were denounced for, but shortly afterwards the pig iron was coming back towards us as bullets.” He says the Maritime Union is extremely concerned that free trade deals will mean the use of short term, casual labour imported across borders to drive down wages and conditions, a problem that is now occurring around the world.
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 29
FREE THE CUBAN FIVE On 12 September 2008, the tenth anniversary of the unjust detention by the US of five Cuban civilians, lawyers, academics, politicians, trade unionists and other ordinary New Zealanders launched a New Zealand committee for the release of the five Cubans imprisoned for preventing terrorism against their country and its people. The so-called crime of the Cuban Five was to gather information about terrorist groups that operate on US soil and carry out attacks in Cuba. Their actions helped prevent terrorist actions and protected innocent civilians. On 4 June 2008 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the convictions of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labaoino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez. This led to protests in the US and around the world. On 2 September 2008, the full panel of the Atlanta Court of Appeals denied the defence request for a full-panel hearing to reconsider the Courtâ€™s 4 June decision in the case of the Cuban Five.
30 | The Maritimes | October 2008
The 4 June decision upheld the guilty verdicts of the Cuban Five, reaffirmed the sentences of Gerardo (two life sentences, plus 15 years) and Rene (15 years), and ordered Judge Joan Lenard in Miami to initiate a process leading to new sentences for Ramon, Antonio and Fernando. The lawyers for the Five have until 1 December 2008 to ask the United States Supreme Court to consider an appeal of the case. The Cuban Five were engaged in a peaceful mission to stop Miami-based organisations from continuing to carry out terrorist attacks against Cuba. Following their arrest they were held for 17 months in brutal conditions of solitary confinement and near-total isolation to hinder the preparation of their defence. At their trial there was not a single page of classified information produced showing espionage or any action directed against the U.S. government.
Without any proof, frame-up charges of conspiracy were used to convict the five. They were tried and convicted in an atmosphere of hype and hysteria in Miami, Florida. These men have been held in jail now for ten years. Continuation of their imprisonment is an absolute injustice. Ten years is too long. We urge the United States government to Free the Cuban Five now! For more information: http://cubasolidarity.blogspot.com/ http://www.gopetition.com/online/21820.html
You can still enrol to vote – it’s not too late How do I know if I am eligible to enrol to vote in the Saturday 8 November general election? Basically, you are qualified to enrol if: • you are 18 years or older • you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and • you have lived in New Zealand for one year or more without leaving the country There are some restrictions. These are listed on the enrolment form. You can pick up the form called “Enrolling to vote: Application” from your nearest New Zealand PostShop. You can fill this in and leave at the counter or send back freepost. Or, freephone 0800 ENROL NOW (0800 36 76 56) or send your name and address to Freetext 3676, and a form will be posted to you. Or, go online at www.elections.govt.nz or ivotenz.org.nz You can still apply to be enrolled after the rolls close on Wednesday 8 October, but you will need to cast a special declaration vote because your name will not appear on the printed roll that will be used on election day. The Parliamentary roll closes for printing Wednesday 8 October. This is roll that will be used on Election Day. Electors have up until the day prior to the election to enrol. People who miss the Wednesday 8 October deadline to enrol will need to cast a special declaration vote. This takes a little longer.
Letters Kia Ora comrades, It seems befitting that I write this article on the anniversary of Mark Ross’s death on 25 August 2007. I would like to use this letter to pass on my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to the many people that contacted and visited me in hospital after the tragic loss of one of our comrades and my best mates, Mark Ross. I met Mark before I went to sea on the Ngahere in dry-dock in Lyttelton in 1982 and we went on to ship-out on various ships over 25 years I would especially like to thank Phil Carroll, Fraser Thomas, Ihia Briggs, Darren James, and the rest of the crew on the Geosounder, and Joe Fleetwood, for his many calls and encouragement to ship out again. The last 12 months have been a difficult time for my recovery but I am now back at sea. People have made various comments over this accident, like any incident you had to be there to understand the situation. I have the utmost respect for the crews actions as all the training cannot prepare you for the real thing. This is the worst thing that can happen to any sailor, more so being one of our own members, so please be careful out there. Michael Will 2655 “MUNZ – out of many people one union”
Whangarei Mobile: 021 855121 Fax: 09 459 4972 Address: PO Box 397, Whangarei Email: email@example.com Auckland Seafarers Phone: 09 3032 562 Fax: 09 3790 766 Mobile: 021 326261 Address: PO Box 1840, Auckland Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Auckland Local 13 Phone: 09 3034 652 Fax: 09 3096 851 Mobile: 021 760887 Address: PO Box 2645, Auckland Email: email@example.com Mount Maunganui Phone: 07 5755 668 Fax: 07 5759 043 Mobile: 0274 782308 Address: PO Box 5121, Mt. Maunganui Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Gisborne Local 38 Mobile: 025 6499697 Address: 5 Murphy Road,Gisborne Email: email@example.com New Plymouth Mobile: 021 479269 Address: PO Box 659, New Plymouth Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Napier Phone/Fax: Mobile: Address: Email:
06 8358 622 027 6175441 PO Box 70, Napier email@example.com
Wellington Seafarers Phone: 04 3859 288 Fax: 04 3848 766 Mobile: 021 364649 Address: PO Box 27004, Wellington Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Wellington Waterfront Phone: 04 8017 619 Fax: 04 3848 766 Mobile: 021 606379 Address: PO Box 2773, Wellington Email: email@example.com Wellington Stores and Warehouse Local 21 Phone: 04 3859 520 Fax: 04 3848 766 Address: PO Box 27004, Wellington Nelson Fax: Mobile: Address:
03 5472104 027 6222691 PO Box 5016, Nelson
Lyttelton Local 43 Phone: 03 3288 306 Fax: 03 3288 798 Mobile: 0274 329620 Address: PO Box 29, Lyttelton Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Timaru Phone/Fax: 03 6843 364 Mobile: 021 2991091 Address: PO Box 813, Timaru Port Chalmers Dunedin Local 10 Phone: 03 4728 052 Fax: 03 4727 492 Mobile: 0274 377601 Address: PO Box 44, Port Chalmers Email: email@example.com Bluff Phone/Fax: Mobile: Address: Email: www.munz.org.nz
03 2128 189 027 4475317 PO Box 5, Bluff firstname.lastname@example.org The Maritimes | October 2008 | 31
Delegates at the Maritime Union of Australia Western Australia Branch Offshore Conference, August 2008
At the farewell for retiring Wellington Central Labour MP Marion Hobbs, from left, MUNZ Wellington Waterfront Secretary John Whiting, Wellington Seafarersâ€™ Secretary Joe Fleetwood and General Secretary Trevor Hanson 32 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Wellington Waterfront and Wellington Seafarersâ€™ combined meeting voted on amalgamation of the two branches in August 2008
Auckland Local 13 executive members Carl Findlay and Dave Phillipps at the August stopwork meeting
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 33
ITF official Ake Selander, RMT (UK) official Steve Todd and MUNZ Wellington Seafarers’ Secretary Joe Fleetwood at the Mexico ITF offshore conference
Wellington Seafarers by Joe Fleetwood
Elections Brothers and Sisters, our Government elections are getting closer and we all need to have our say in the direction of our country. Those of you that aren’t on the electoral roll, get on it and have your say, don’t sit on board your ships and in the mess rooms ashore whinging. You don’t have a right to whinge if you don’t vote, stand up and be counted.
MUA West Australian Conference The MUA Offshore Enterprise Bargaining Agreement and FPSO Conference was held on 25-29 August 2008. I was invited to attend the offshore conference with fellow international delegates National Secretary of the Rail and Maritime Union (UK) Steve Todd, MUA New South Wales State Secretary Warren Smith, MUA Victoria Assistant Secretary Dave Cushion and my good mate MUNZ Wellington President Mike Clark. Many leading MUA delegates attended to discuss and debate the renewal of the Australian Offshore Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. The conference was opened by MUA West Australia Deputy Secretary Keith McCorriston who welcomed all delegates and then introduced all internationals before handing over to MUA Assistant National Secretary Mick Doleman. 34 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Mick gave a thorough overview of the Australian oil and gas industry and also gave an update on the international scene. MUA West Australia State Secretary Christy Cain reported on the massive boom happening in West Australia now. The “West” is growing at a great rate of knots and the WA branch is putting on two new organisers. They are Will Tracey, who has made leaps and bounds for the ROV Operators by organising 160 out of 180 workers, and Mick Canning who has done the same in the tugs by signing all workers up with great wage increases and increments. Together with WA Assistant State Secretary Ian Bray, this gives the branch five full time officials all working 24/7 to retain and better all workers wages and conditions. It was sad to hear that a very good comrade of mine and many others, Colin Moss, an ex-member of the New Zealand Seafarers Union and current MUA member, had passed away in the Philippines, gone but not forgotten comrade. Then on to business. There was debate on the renewal of the upcoming EBA. There is a need to address the accelerated growth in the offshore for the next four years, which involves many new players in the industry. Issues include suitcase stevedores, locking down agreements with new Maersk LNG vessels and pattern bargaining. The MUA is becoming a registered training organisation (RTO) so they can address the labour shortages quickly rather than rely on employers to train when they want. What was apparent to us all was the importance of protecting the Blue Water, as so many of us got our first start at sea on these ships, and the need to take back the roster system, Norwegian swings, etc.
Mick Doleman and Christy Cain stressed the importance of international solidarity. This includes the ITF and the Offshore Task Force Group, the Trans Tasman Federation that sees many MUNZ members working on the Australian coast, the Mining and Maritime Alliance, and hopefully the Trans Tasman Hydro Carbon Alliance. Another brother union the RMT in the UK has signed off on a Memorandum of Understanding with the MUA and some of the Australian offshore employers that lets the employers bring down UK seafarers to work in Australia. This is for a six week on, six week off temporary basis while there are no available Australian seafarers. Steve Todd and I both gave an indepth country report that addressed industry and government issues. The last day was taken up with a meeting on the FPSOs or “Floaters” which was attended by roughly 20 delegates from Australia. They debated the renewal of the Floaters agreement, much like the first part of the week. Christy thanked MUNZ and the RMT-UK for assisting with labour shortages then summed up the conference stressing the fact that Unity is our strength and the youth are our future so we need to organise and get it right. To the WA Branch and the MUA I would like to thank you all for your hospitality and Solidarity while we were in Australia. MUA Here To Stay.
Kiwirail It is great to see the Government has bought back the rail and ferries. This is another step in the right direction for the people of New Zealand. Let’s hope the past legacy of Union bashing is now behind us. We have initiated bargaining on the company and are in the final steps with the bargaining protocol. All remits have been sorted by the remit committee and are in the final draft stage. Once they are refined then we are into the renewal of our Union collective. Let’s hope the strike action taken by the Merchant Service Guild to secure a collective agreement with this company is not a sign of what is in store for us with the renewal of our collective agreement. United we stand – divided you crawl.
Free Trade Burma The Maritime Union has spoken out about the latest free trade deal that is being set up with ASEAN. ASEAN is a group of Asian countries that include China and Burma. The fact that New Zealand has signed a free trade deal with Burma means that we are now cuddling up to a military fascist dictatorship which is responsible for the torture and murder of one of our comrades, Ko Moe Naung, of the Seafarers Union of Burma in 2005. www.munz.org.nz
EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little and MUNZ Wellington Seafarers’ Secretary Joe Fleetwood sign off on the EPMU/MUNZ offshore agreement
This is a disgrace. In the past maritime workers have stood up for political causes. These included when wharfies refused to load pig iron to Japan before World War 2, against apartheid in South Africa and stood up against nuclear ships in our harbours. Perhaps it is time we did so about free trade deals with regimes who murder seafarers.
Offshore The offshore in New Zealand seems to have stabilized for now. The Yarabah has laid up in Nelson and the Pacific Runner has just gone over the horizon which will see more unemployed seafarers. We are currently in talks with New Zealand employers over prospective work opportunities, in conjunction with the MUA and Australian employers on the same issue.
Strait Shipping The Picton Terminal seems to be rolling on with little or minimal problems. John Whiting and I will endeavour to be in Picton to meet with our members soon to sort out any outstanding issues. The company has fallen into crisis mode over the coastal ship Kent – for a short time we hope. This is due to past Governments giving big multinational corporations the monopoly www.munz.org.nz
on the New Zealand shipping industry. They have been holding Ports and our home grown shipping companies to ransom, awarding them with the coastal contracts to carry cargo, then when it suits them they withdraw their offer. There is no social responsibility to New Zealand workers and society, disadvantaging the New Zealand ship owners yet again. Let’s hope the funding inside the new shipping strategy put together by the current government goes to the right people.
Amalgamation The Wellington Seafarers Executive met in mid-August to discuss branch business. A lengthy discussion was had over the formation of one branch in Wellington, and it was agreed that a committee should be formed to discuss the structure and related issues. The joint committee met in early September and it was agreed that a financial costing of both branches will be done. The joint committee will reconvene on 10 September to discuss a proposal that will be put to both Seafarers and Wharfies executives for their approval, then the proposal will be put to the membership for their approval. The Seafarers Executive will meet at the most convenient time possible due to the members being away on there respective
ships, likewise our brothers and sisters on the waterfront. The committee members are Joe Fleetwood, John Whiting, Dave Winton, Peter Stills, Bradley Clifford and Mike Shakespeare.
Offshore task force See separate report elsewhere in the Maritimes.
NIWA All joint remits have been collated and we are in the process of setting up times and dates to negotiate and secure another multi party union collective for our members.
Branch clothing The branch has t-shirts and caps for sale with the branch and union logo on, so be in quick or miss out. Proud To Be Union.
Delegate System We are a proud and militant union and our delegates on board our ships and wharves should be commended for the tireless work they put into defending their collective agreements. Kia Kaha (be strong).
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 35
Auckland Seafarers’ Branch members Paul Turley (left) and Daniel Staley on the bridge, Fullers Auckland harbour ferry (photo by Victor Billot)
Auckland Seafarers’ Branch stopwork meeting, Monday 11 August 2008 (photo by Victor Billot) 36 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Auckland Seafarers by Garry Parsloe National Vice President. On 18 August 2008 the Maritime Union of Australia, the Maritime Union of New Zealand and Sea-Tow management met in Sydney. Peter Dunlop (Manager Sea-Tow) gave an overview of the direction that his company wants to go. They have now secured a partner in the International but have kept all their New Zealand work within Sea-Tow New Zealand Limited. The parties had a lengthy discussion around Sea-Tow’s current work and SeaTow’s probable work coverage on the Australian coast. Two new tugs will enter the fleet immediately x PB Towage in Brisbane, Karepo ex-Cook and Karetu ex-Gibson. Additional equipment is being sourced to boost the fleet further to take advantage of the opportunities that are now available. At the end of the discussions it was agreed to have ongoing dialogue with Sea-Tow on a three-monthly basis so as all parties can be kept fully informed
Auckland Seafarers’ Branch member Mere Mock at Fullers Ferries (photo by Victor Billot)
Auckland Seafarers’ Branch member Jenny Neilson at Fullers Ferries (photo by Victor Billot)
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 37
Maritime Union of New Zealand Local 13 members at the August 2008 stopwork meeting (photo by Victor Billot)
Local 13 members Aubrey Slade, Ovava Takefala and Grant Williams at the August 2008 stopwork meeting (photo by Victor Billot)
38 | The Maritimes | October 2008
MUNZ Local 13 members Jason Green and Alex Borger (photo by Paul White)
MUNZ Local 13 President Denis Carlisle (left) and Local 13 executive member Paul White (right) with Prime Minister Helen Clark at the 2008 Waterfront Reunion www.munz.org.nz
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 39
Loal 13 members from left, Grant Williams, Roger Gilbertson, Mark Wallace, Waine Wolfe and Shaun Thornton
Local 13 by Russell Mayn
General Election 2008 It looks like it is all on for young and old again as the 2008 General Election looms. Yet at the moment it seems that New Zealand is drifting into the election with the old slogan “it’s time for change” echoing. I haven’t heard anyone say it outright but I keep hearing the echo or is it the “Ghost of Christmas Past”? What is up for grabs is far more important than the promise of “tax cuts” or a “leaner”public service. Somewhere in the distant past I have heard this all before and experienced the pain and suffering that followed. What is being purported as the way forward at present contains little substance and I eagerly await the release of detailed policy. It is interesting that ACC seems to be in the National Party’s sights as the first cab of the rank for privatisation. Currently the world is watching privately owned banks and insurance companies being bailed out by governments to the sum of billions of dollars. 40 | The Maritimes | October 2008
There are probably very complicated reasons for the state of the world financial crisis but underpinning this crisis was a period of excessive corporate profiteering. It could be said that excessive salaries have been paid for what now looks like a right royal stuff up. The question is why would we want ACC to shift to private insurance companies, when it is obvious that the current management system is one of the best in the world. This is not conjecture and has been backed up by independent reports and reviews. What follows after ACC? At present it is difficult to say categorically but if you were having a punt you would put your money on the employer subsidy being removed from Kiwisaver. The sale of KiwiBank? If you were betting against that happening, you would be backing an outsider. Then there is Working for Families, I bet that wouldn’t last long under a National Government. If a National Government were to win the election the “Pick Six” would be easy: ACC, KiwiBank, Kiwisaver, Working for Families, 90 day rule and increased doctors bills.
Put in a couple of runners with good trials forms like “Road Tolls” and the rewriting of the Employment Relations Act and I reckon you’re home and hosed. The problem is the dividend you will receive will be very similar to the one that every working class family received during the 1990s. The answer is to make sure that everyone visits the track on election day, not to have a punt on their future, but look at the fields and cross out the no hopers. The form guide for every worker should be to look at the runners and their form. Start with the jockeys and have a look at their experience. No doubt in my mind that the current Prime Minister is the form rider as the rest are yet to prove themselves over the distance. Then you have to look at the trainers, doesn’t that open some debate. A bit of research and the Hollow Men book and movie is helpful here and the conclusion is that there are some suspect stables around. Then we have to look at the track or should we be talking about the rail tracks. After the privatisation of the 1990’s we have had to buy back our tracks back just so we can hold a meeting.
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MUNZ Vice President Garry Parsloe (left) and Assistant General Secretary Russell Mayn (right) with Matrans tutor Ed van den Hoek in the Netherlands
Next is the weight allowance: it seems that National has decided that tax cuts would give us a better allowance but really the problem is the stake money. During the 1990s, again the stake money was cut and New Zealand workers fell well behind. The real problem is that wages in New Zealand have fallen way behind our nearest cousin Australia and the gap between Australia and New Zealand is increasing. It is not tax cuts that are attracting New Zealanders to Australia but the reality is that wages are 25% better across the ditch. If this is not addressed, then New Zealanders will continue to pack their belongings and look to improve their lot. National’s answer of tax cuts is flawed and will not achieve a result. I suspect that all that will happen is that the rich will get richer and the poor will be left to fend for themselves.
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If National were serious about addressing the inequality between New Zealand and Australia it would have voted to increase the minimum wage and strengthen labour laws that allow workers to bargain freely for a more realistic weekly income. Not so: the track record has been to vote against increases to the minimum wage and what has been signalled is that they will reintroduce the 90 day bill if elected. This I suggest is a good pointer as to what will happen with future labour legislation and we will find ourselves fighting unfair labour laws similar or worst than those experienced in the 1990s. The Union slogan for the 2008 election is “Fairness at Work Worth Fighting For” and is in no doubt the right one. So come election day, first of all make sure everyone at work and all your extended family are enrolled, secondly, make sure that everyone casts a vote, and thirdly make sure that the vote is for the right party: the last thing we want to happen is another “National Disaster”.
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 41
The Sunny Napier II suffered a shift of cargo in high seas after departing Port of Napier in July en route to Asia, and returned to port to inspect damage (photo by Bill Connelly)
Napier by Bill Connelly
Around and about: The port is reasonably quiet at the time of writing, but has its moments. For instance yesterday we were supposed to have an empty port and all of a sudden we had two ships alongside. You certainly need a crystal ball if you want to organise anything in Napier, be it a stop-work meeting, or whatever.
Agreements: C3: (Formerly Toll Logistics NZ Limited) The Collective Agreement expires on the 31 December 2008.
Hawke’s Bay Stevedoring Services Limited: We have just completed negotiations for a Local Port Schedules for the permanent, “B” register and casual employees. Although we had to go to mediation, the end result was acceptable to both parties and we were ably assisted by Maree Wheatley, the Mediator, who gave us every assistance to reach an amicable solution.
42 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Safe access to vessels
Although an election date has not been announced as yet, the Napier Branch is backing our local Member of Parliament, Russell Fairbrother, to win back the seat from National. Members have agreed to back Russell financially and some members at ground level are doing pamphlet drops and assisting when and where they can. The membership should be aware that the success we achieved on the Napier picket would in all probability not have succeeded had a National government been in power. Where was our supposed Member of Parliament, Chris Tremain, when his presence was needed, nowhere to be seen, but Russell led by example and was there ever day. I do not wish to see all the good things we have achieved under a Labourled government, for the past nine years, go down the drain. Think hard of the gains we have achieved and when you cast your vote, remember them.
This has long been a contentious issue even with the “Code of Practice for Health and Safety in Port Operations” clearly spelling out the way a gangway should be safely rigged. In October 1995 a Russian seaman was killed in the South Island because the gangway was rigged incorrectly and he fell on the inboard side of the gangway and was drowned. This led me to ask the then Harbour Master, John Hazell, and the Maritime Safety Inspector, Andrew Lo, about the accepted rigging of gangways in general. I said that as an ex-able seaman I was always taught to rig the gangway with the safety net slung from the outboard side of the gangway, then under the gangway and secured at the ship’s side. This meant that if anyone was unfortunate to fall off the gangway on the inboard side, then the safety net would prevent them falling any further than the net would allow. They both agreed with my interpretation and notified all interested parties that “ . . . Following discussions with Captain Brian Satur of the Maritime Safety Authority we must advise that the ‘box rigging’ of a gangway net, while an excellent safety measure, does not fulfil the General Harbour Regulations for a gangway net.”
PORT ROUNDUPS They go on to say: “In all instances a gangway net must be rigged from outside of the accommodation ladder under the ladder to the ship’s side.” Imagine my surprise when Maritime New Zealand, in a letter dated 29 August 2008, did a complete turn around on their own accepted Code of Practice and stated they “ . . . recognized boxed net gangways as illustrated by the International Labour Organisation Code of Practice 2005 . . . as an alternative means of safe access to ships in all New Zealand ports.” I contacted the General Secretary to tell him of my concerns and as you are all aware our members have been instructed nationally not to board any ship where the gangway is box rigged. It is my considered opinion that ‘box rigged’ gangways are, and always have been an accident waiting to happen. All interested parties in Hawke’s Bay have been made aware of the Union’s stance on ‘box rigged’ gangways and as a result a greater emphasis on safety has been achieved. I hope all ports take a pro-active approach to enforcing the Union’s stance on ‘box rigged’ gangways.
Lyttelton by Les Wells Lyttelton Port Company has just moved eight men up to permanent from PRPs, with four starting straight away and the other four when they build up the PRP pool again. LPC are also in the process of expanding the terminal by pushing our conventional stevedores out of areas they had work in for some time. One of the perfect examples of this is C3. They have taken them from an area where there was little foot or vehicle traffic to an area where there is traffic going through. I believe there have been a couple of near misses in this new area. Pacifica has been busy trying to keep ships on schedule with the bad weather we have had in recent months. Hopefully with a change in the weather things can get back to schedule.
Port of Lyttelton Memorial Wall by Gary Horan We are negotiating with the Council in Lyttelton at the moment to erect a memorial wall in the garden on the lower end of Sumner Road. This wall is for the benefit of families and friends of people who have had their ashes scattered at sea or have been lost at sea. At present there is no place of remembrance or no record of these people. The area will be landscaped with timbers salvaged from the Lyttelton wharves and have a very nautical theme. After talking with local man Angus McPherson, he offered to design a wall that he thought would be unique. The memorial wall will be made up of individual tiles of about 200cm x 100cm. Each tile would have the name of a person and some brief history of them. The concept we have is that all the tiles together would make up a large picture of Lyttelton Harbour and from a distance you would not notice the inscriptions until you get close enough to read them. The Lyttelton Rotary Club and a few enthusiastic locals are undertaking the whole project. I got the idea for this wall when I was visiting Queensland a few years ago and saw a brick wall with the names of people lost at sea. I have always wanted some form of memorial for my father who was lost at the Chatham Islands in 1972 and for my good friend Jeff Child, who after spending all his life at sea died in 1991 and had his ashes scattered on the harbour. I think after the response I have got from people that nearly all of the locals in Lyttelton have had someone they know buried at sea. One lady who has a family tradition with the sea told me she has five relatives who have had their ashes scattered and she was keen to be involved with this idea. The support from the community has so far been great with many offers of materials and support and we are thankful that this idea has struck a chord with everyone. The garden we hope will be a peaceful place where people can go and remember loved ones and that future generations will be able to see what a great influence the sea has on our community. The reserve offers a nice view of the harbour and has easy access for the elderly or disabled. The second part of the plan is to have a web site that would have a biography of people on the wall with some history of their life and circumstances of their death and burial. We would also like to produce a book of the whole project that has the history of these people in it when we have finally completed the memorial.
I would be interested if any other members have a similar memorial in their port or town and would welcome any suggestions and offers of support that are forthcoming. The Rotary Club is handling all matters concerning construction and finances and the plan is to sell the tiles for a modest sum and after any construction expenses have been taken care of that any funds will go back to the community in the way of grants to local charities. The whole scheme will be overseen by a trust and we hope this will give the Lyttelton community a wonderful place of remembrance and also fund some worthwhile organizations.
C3 Report by Clinton Norris August was a busy month with log ships and the loading of logs into containers along with our regular car, banana, container and fertilizer vessels. We have just completed our award talks with a slight increase in our wages and not having to give too much away. Our main gain was getting our GWEs promoted to permanent 40/7. Congratulations to Danny and Carlos. I find it strange that the employer always expects the employee to give something away for a wage increase two-fold. We have still been cross hiring skilled staff from LPC and Lyttelton Stevedores along with out of Port transfers. Our Social Club recently held our mid-winter dinner at the Lone Star where we all had a great night, although I think most of us ate too much instead of the usual drinking too much. Congratulations to Danny and Jackie with the arrival of their baby boy. With winter almost over we are now looking forward to the warmer and longer days as we have had our share of rain and snow over the past few months. Congratulations to Bruce McLaughlin, Trevor Wong and Clinton Norris for being elected onto the Management Committee.
Lyttelton seafarers by George Clark On the Lyttelton Executive there are three seafarers reps, Richard Casparis, Kevin Moore, and George Clark. There are around 30 seafarers working in Australia currently. Geo Bay, a seismic vessel, and Lewak Pitre a rig tender will be working the Ensco 56 rig. Pacific Warlock and Yeo Tide are working Ensco Field 107 rig. Western Trident, Pacifica Wrangler and Far Grip al have 50/50 crews from MUNZ and MUA. We recently carried out an ITF Inspection on a banana boat with Grahame McLaren, all good. The Maritimes | October 2008 | 43
Squash boat, Gisborne (photo by Dein Ferris)
by Dein Ferris
by Kevin Forde
It’s slowly getting more tropical, and we’ve had a lot of cool breezes from the southerly direction. The new port road is now in operation, but not without problems. It was only open a few days before log trucks broke through the seal. I think there will be permanent roadworks here. Those visiting will note the change, especially those who remember the old freezing works as the road goes through where they once stood. As with most ports, winter seems quieter although we have transfered around a bit. Last trip was to Wellington in August. We are currently renewing our first aid and OSH tickets. All staff participate in this. Roll on summer.
Maersk is coming back to Timaru. However at this stage the port company are not rehiring permanents but will be using casuals. We have been flat out with palm kernels as a new contract started recently with a new shed at Washdyke, with 400 000 tonnes of palm kernels coming annually from Asia in regular shipments for cattle food. Entries for the interport tournament close at the end of September, with the date set for 8 February 2008. Entries have been accepted for golf, fishing and indoor sports (darts and pool). The branch assisted with an ITF inspection in August with ITF co-ordinator Grahame McKean aboard the IVS Nightingale. All papers were in order.
44 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Mount Maunganui Tauranga by Eddie Cook Membership is growing and we are organizing membership cards for all members. The branch has been in negotiations with NZL and a few other smaller employers. There have been mediations with NZL and C3 over disciplinary matters, and we’ve got some good results for some of the members. We have been getting assistance from Russell Mayn and Garry Parsloe from Auckland, which has been helpful. We are holding monthly executive meetings and will hold our AGM in November. Members will be informed about this. Shipping has been steady with plenty of work around.
Ports of Auckland, August 2008 (photo by Victor Billot)
The Panamanian-flagged Royal Forest suffered major damage in July 2008. Loaded by ISO scab labour, the stanchions at several hatches on the starboard side failed and led to the loss of cargo in high seas on the northern coast. She returned to Marsden Point for restow and repair (photo by Steve Murray) www.munz.org.nz
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 45
Port Chalmers Dunedin
Branch member and union communications officer Victor Billot is standing in the local electorate of Dunedin North for the pro-worker Alliance Party.
Murray Gillon one of our longstanding members is retiring. We wish Murray a long and happy retirement and thank him for his loyalty over the years.
by Phil Adams Greetings from the South. Things are starting to quieten down here as we approach summer. The terminal has started to quieten down just as the Port Company has employed more staff. Port Chalmers Stevedoring Services continues to work fish, logs, fertilizer, cement with some out-of-port transfers. Port Otago recently lost the Southern Star service, which will mean about 50,000 less TEUs per year. Although the company has told our officials there will be no redundancies, it certainly brings home to our members how volatile the industry is.
Both Port Chalmers Cargo Services and the terminal have recently ratified their agreements for two years. The terminal agreement, though not to everyone's satisfaction, has kept the status quo plus a good increase particularly with the loss of trade for the Port. Port Chalmers Cargo Services also had a good result and we are now at the stage where will start negotiations for the casuals.
The sick list at the moment is John Johnston, Les Kilpatrick and Neville Scoles. We wish them all a speedy recovery.
Elections With the elections upon us it is time for us to get actively involved in putting in a worker friendly Government. National has said it has plans for industrial legislation and for those who recall the Employment Contracts Act in the 1990s, these plans wonâ€™t be any good for workers. Maritime workers must remember that although the present government has not been entirely satisfactory, we have had significant victories such as Napier and in keeping Mainland out of Port Chalmers. These victories would not have happened under a hostile National Government. Worker friendly policies are the way to go. We ask all members to attend political meetings and put the hard questions to the candidates. It is of some interest that the local National Party candidate is the son of a former talley clerk here at the Port Alan Woodhouse.
Executive The branch executive is working well and all are taking an active interest in the job. The branch are looking at taking a couple of the exec members to our national executive meeting in November. We have also introduced them to our new members at a meeting on 11 September, which included an introduction to our Union and rules and the advantages of union membership. With this in mind we are actively looking at delegate training for exec members and also new delegates, including Shane Priest, who is taking over from Graham Wright in the sheds, as Graham is transferring.
New pilot boat The Branch President is settling in well to his duties on the new pilot boat, Aramoana. Davy has had only one small hiccup but looks very good with his new uniform with the scrambled eggs on the cap.
Queenstown Unit Alan and Ian note the Queenstown Unit is available on certain dates. Alan can be contacted on 0212298726 or 03478753 and Ian on 0273365298 or 03 4727216. Recently we lost a long standing seaman Farquhar (Jock) Stoddart. Jock also known as The Voice was a popular seaman and served the Union in executive positions. We also note the passing of former exec member George Berryman. Our branch sends our condolences to the families of these union men.
Sports Tourney All those interested in going to Timaru next year should let Winky know as soon as possible. Our October meeting will be our annual meeting and a budget for next year will be presented. We ask all members to attend. That is about it from our Port, but I remind all members that the next couple of months will be important, please make sure you vote.
Port Otago smoko room, 24 September 2008 (photo by Victor Billot) 46 | The Maritimes | October 2008
Port Chalmers Dunedin Branch stopwork meeting to vote on proposed employment agreement, 9 July 2008 (photos by Victor Billot) www.munz.org.nz
The Maritimes | October 2008 | 47
Workers and supporters walking through Mansfield Street, Newtown, Wellington, during the Maritime Strike, 1913 Photograph by Sydney Charles Smith (1888â€“1972), reproduced with permission from the S.C. Smith Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
When you vote on 8 November 2008 Remember your history Remember those who came before Remember those who gave blood, sweat and tears for the generations to come Vote for your class Vote for the working class Vote for a better tomorrow Authorised by Trevor Hanson, Maritime Union of New Zealand, 200 Willis Street, Wellington
48 | The Maritimes | October 2008