INDEPENDENT NEWS

Newsletter Shows Waterfront Workers True Colours

Published: Tue 5 Dec 2000 01:02 PM
Union Newsletter Shows Waterfront Workers True Colours
Claims by the New Zealand Waterfront Workers Union (NZWWU) that they are protesting to protect local jobs is nothing but media spin, said ACT leader Hon Richard Prebble.
Over the past month, NZWWU members and the Council of Trade Unions have picketed South Island ports to protest against Carter Holt Harvey's use of workers from Tauranga based Mainland Stevedoring to load logging ships. Mainland Stevedoring has stated that it was awarded the contract because it was more efficient at doing the job.
“This is a demarcation dispute, pure and simple. Union talk of protecting ‘local’ jobs is nothing but media spin to attract public sympathy.
“For over thirty years members of the Waterfront Union have been flown around New Zealand to even out work for wharfies. This was both inefficient and very expensive. Now that a new union is offering employers a fair and reasoned deal the NZWWU has become hostile. It is the new, legitimate, union the NZWWU are fighting.
“ACT has been given the URL (http://www.itf.org.uk/ap/ape62.htm)of a newsletter published by the International Transport Workers Federation. The electronic newsletter proves beyond doubt that it is a demarcation dispute. The newsletter states:
Flaw in New Law “Just over a month ago New Zealand trade unions were celebrating the passing of new industrial legislation. But one aspect of the legislation which allows just 15 people to form a union is causing problems for the ITF affiliated NZ Waterfront Workers Union. Carter Holt Harvey, a major forest products company, is using casual workers from International Stevedores to load logs at ports around the country, flying them in on chartered planes. Under the new law what were previously seen as scabs have become legitimised by forming a (company) union. They are displacing local unionised workers and causing considerable economic damage to the small communities that rely on the ports for employment in Bluff and Port Chalmers. The NZWWU has responded by setting up pickets wherever the ‘Eastern Forest’ attempts to berth. In turn the police have turned out in force and set up barbed wire barricades. The NZWWU intend to step up their fight and confront the scabs wherever and whenever they attempt to displace true unionists.”
“Les Dickson’s firm is paying the unskilled labourers $150 a day. The unemployment benefit is $148 a week, so it is hardly exploitation.
“The union is now attempting to gain through industrial action what it failed to get in parliament.
“During ERA select committee hearings, port companies predicted demarcation disputes, asking for the ability to get injunctions and court orders. Minister of Labour, Margaret Wilson, claimed such disputes would not occur. Recent parliamentary questions show she’s still in denial,” said Hon Richard Prebble.
ACT’s “Freedom to Contract” employment policy can be found at www.act.org.nz/action/employment.html
ENDS

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