One Step Closer To The Formation of a Regional Maritime Federation

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 [Picture: Regional Maritime Federation Delegates]

Delegates from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have just returned from a meeting in Port Moresby that was called to pave the way for a formalised Regional Maritime Federation between the Maritime Union of Australia, the Maritime Union of New Zealand and the PNG Martime and Transport Workers’ Union.

International Transport Workers’ Federation President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the formation of such a federation had been in discussion for a while and the recent meeting had been successful in gaining momentum to ensure the federation would be solidified within a year.

Partnerships between transport trade unions in the Asia-Pacific region were stronger than ever and stood to be reinforced further with the formation of a RMF, Crumlin said.

“What we are seeking to do is form a Regional Maritime Federation with a real structure that is accountable of law, with rules, so we can sit with employers in the region and talk about how to deliver productivity and safety,” he said.

“This is a significant move designed to strengthen the capacity of unions in the transport sector to efficiently and effectively represent the interests of their constituencies as well as bolster the efforts of the union movement in the region.”

MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood said he looked forward to working in unity with his geographical neighbours.

“Our region will continue to see great growth in commerce across the oceans and our goal is to make sure that the workers who make sure goods move efficiently from nation to nation share in the bounty of economic prosperity,” Fleetwood said.

Meanwhile, PNG MTWU General Secretary Reg McAlister said a federation could help grow trade unionism in PNG where the movement is still in its infancy.

“Working together is what unions are all about and international solidarity can only benefit developing nations such as PNG,” McAlister said.

The three unions agreed the next step in forming the RMF would be to hold an organising conference, which has been scheduled for the first quarter of next year in Auckland, NZ.

Click here to listen to National Secretary Paddy Crumlin's interview with Radio Australia. 

Click here to view photos from the historic meeting. 

Click here to read an article featured in the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier.

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[Picture: MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin addresses the meeting.]

Issued below is a statement following the first Regional Maritime Federation meeting held in Port Moresby on November 12, 2013: 

The Executive Committees of the Papua New Guinea Maritime Transport Workers Union, the Maritime Union of New Zealand and the Maritime Union of Australia recognise that the first meeting held in Port Moresby on November 13, 2013 is a historic step in the regional trade union development, with the stated objective of the parties to develop formal structures and rules for the establishment of a Regional Maritime Federation.

The parties are all long term affiliates of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the development of the Regional Maritime Federation fits squarely into the vision of the ITF in promoting regional development through the building of trade union capacity to assist the working men and women achieve better and more decent working lives.

The meeting noted that the long history of cooperation and joint activity between the three unions including assistance given to establish the PNG MTWU in 1972 and the history of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia up to the 1940s.

The three unions have cooperated in campaigns around Flag of Convenience (FOC), dockers’ rights and other industrial, social, political and legal rights for many years.

The meeting, in particular, recognises and thanks the Australian Marine Officers Union and Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union for their attendance at this important and historic meeting, recognising the importance of building regional solidarity between all unions.

Currently the work undertaken thus far with the support of the ITF, MUA, CFMEU, Transport Workers Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has seen a surge in union membership for the PNG MTWU and other PNG unions, along with the work that is being carried out in the fisheries sector.

The meeting identified and agreed there are enormous opportunities in our region for maritime and transport workers, particularly in the resource sector. The Regional Maritime Federation will work with other unions in our region to assist in creating employment opportunities and decent working conditions for the region’s maritime transport and other workers to ensure the wealth from these projects also recognise the rights of the national population as resource owners and the national workforce.

This work, enhanced with the support of our alliance with unions in Australia with the International Trade Union Confederation and the other global union federations, particularly IndustriALL, UNI, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association.

With the development of the Regional Maritime Federation, the member unions will continue to work with other regional unions to seek opportunities for membership of the federation in the future and to extend and consolidate organising projects in PNG and other regional areas. We particularly appreciate the strong support from the PNG Trade Union Council Australian Council of Trade Unions and New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and their affiliates for these solidarity projects and organising campaigns.

To commence the work of the regional maritime federation the parties agreed to an organising conference to be held in Auckland, NZ in the first quarter of 2014, with a view of promoting the federation to their membership under an agreed structure next year.