The Maritime Union of Australia has set up a dedicated fund for members and supporters to donate to those whose lives have been devastated by a category five cyclone that swept through the Pacific Islands last week.
Vanuatu bore the majority of the brunt of Pam where more than 20 people have been confirmed dead and the toll is expected to rise. Seventy per cent of people living on the archipelago are now homeless.
The union has a long-standing history of cooperation with the Ni-Vanuatu, particularly the nation’s seafaring union and National Secretary Paddy Crumlin encouraged members and rolling fund administrators to dig deep for the worthy cause.
Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman said the union had already pledged $2000, and that the Maritime Union of New Zealand had pledged the same as part of a Maritime International Federation initiative.
“We haven’t decided at this point in time where exactly we’ll direct the funds but it will be a collaborative decision with MUNZ, and other members of the MIF,” Doleman said.
“The suffering of our neighbouring comrades is very close to our hearts; we’ve had a good longstanding relationship with the almost 1000 unionised Vanuatu seafarers, who will likely be suffering along with their fellow country men and women.”
MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood said seeing the pictures coming out of Vanuatu had been upsetting and that he had received a number of phone calls from members asking how they could contribute.
“New Zealand has a profound connection with other the other Pacific Islands and the union will do what it can to help its neighbor get back on its feet,” Fleetwood said.
“It’s like the old union saying, ‘an injury to one, is an injury to all’. We’re feeling the pain of our Ni-Van brothers and sisters and as a result, donating to help them get back on their feet is a no-brainer.”
Papua New Guinea Maritime Transport Worker’s Union Secretary Reg McAllister said his union would join in helping one of its closest neighbours.
“We also saw some damage and flooding in the wake of Pam and there was one death in West New Britain, but having seen the damage in Vanuatu we won’t hesitate to help where we can,” McAllister said.
Bank details below:
Account number 4626 (S5) for internal transfer
Name: MUA Vanuatu Relief Fund