Safety On NZ Wharves Declining - Union

Employers and government agencies turning a blind eye to unsafe working conditions in New Zealand ports

Employers and government agencies appear to be turning a blind eye to unsafe working conditions, says Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Joe Fleetwood.

The recession and increasing competition for available cargo in New Zealand ports means many employers are cutting corners. And in some instances of workers required to work 18 hour days with six hour rest periods.

"Workers are driving heavy cranes for long periods between rest or toilet breaks," he said. "These conditions are getting back to a century ago."

Workers wait by the phone for a call up and labour hire companies are taking hefty cuts of wages for doing very little.

"The Maritime Union is putting employers on notice that there will be stoppages if health and safety is compromised to gain competitive advantage," he said

Joe Fleetwood recently attended an International Transport Federation dock workers meeting in Mumbai, India, alongside MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman.

He said the safety issue in NZ ports was an international issue, and co-ordinated action between global transport unions was likely.