Rig Workers Mobilise Against Maersk

Hundreds send e-mails backing Aussie oil-rig workers wanting iconic Danish multinational to recognise union

Hundreds of protest e-mails from Australian oil rig workers, and their supporters, are flooding into the e-mail in-boxes of top executives at Maersk, the big Danish multinational container shipping firm, and oil rig operator.

The e-mail protests are coming from trade union-backers angered that Maersk seems to consistently discriminate against union members. For almost two years union members of the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance on the Maersk-owned drill rig Nan Hai 6 have been trying to seal a deal with this iconic Danish shipping giant.

“ Our members have reached out to the wider community to tell Maersk you can’t mistreat Australian union workers in this way,” Paddy Crumlin, MUA National Secretary, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Executive Board member and Chair of the ITF Dockworkers section said.

Nearly 500 hundred e-mails have been sent from across Australia. and the globe. in a little over 48 hours.

“ These workers have a right to have a union represent them, the company should sit down and talk – and not offer side deals to the non-union workers which so obviously discriminate against our members,” Paul Howes, AWU National Secretary, said.

Maersk employees on the Nan Hai 6 oil rig - employed on non-union AWA individual contracts - enjoy extra leave, are provided with health insurance coverage and receive salary increases denied to union members.

The leaders of the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance, Paddy Crumlin and Paul Howes, said they were aware that the company and its 90 year old owner prided itself on how it deals with its workforce – but in the case of Australia they have not matched their own standards.

The two-year stand-off in negotiating a collective agreement with the union should end, the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance leaders say.  

The MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance appreciates that Maersk normally has a good reputation.

That’s why they should sit down together with our people, end the stand-off, and make a deal good for the company, good for workforce, the union leaders said.

Mr Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller is the wealthiest man in Denmark. He and his company are highly respected and close to the Danish Royal family – which in turn has a special Australian connection, through the Tasmanian-born Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark. The Crown Princess and her husband Crown Prince Frederik are regular guests of Maersk helping to promote the interests of this important Danish company right across the globe.

“ Next time Princess Mary comes back to Australia we hope she will take the opportunity to meet with some of our oil rig members employed by this extraordinarily successful Danish firm,” the MUA’s Paddy Crumlin said.

“ We hope she can help us to end the log-jam ,and get talks happening quickly, resulting in a decent agreement good for the company and good for union members,” the AWU’s Paul Howes said.

A campaign involving the web, social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, the global trade union website LabourStart, as well as an e-mail campaign, has ensured thousands have learnt about the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance call for Maersk to treat its workforce equally.

For more info: Paddy Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, National Secretary, and International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Executive Board member and Chair ITF Dockworkers section • International callers : 61 2 92679134 or 61 418 379 660 • Australian callers : 02 92679134 or 0418379 660