UK ferry operator P&O Ferries has moved to sack 800 UK-based seafarers and outsource their jobs to non-union, agency workers.
New Zealand affiliates of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) are backing the workers.
Co-ordinator of the New Zealand ITF affiliates, Paul Tolich, said New Zealand unions have offered their full support to the affected crew members, who are members of the UK’s RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ Union) and ship officers’ union Nautilus International.
ITF affiliates in New Zealand are the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, the Maritime Union of New Zealand, E Tu, FIRST Union, the Merchant Service Guild, and the Aviation and Marine Engineers’ Association, who together represent tens of thousands of New Zealand transport workers.
Tolich said the trampling of the rights of essential workers such as the P&O Ferries seafarers could not be permitted.
“If it could happen to them there, it could happen to workers here. We have to stand up against multinational companies whenever they think they can get away with this,” he said.
Unions have launched a global protest petition directed at the major shareholder of P&O, global ports conglomerate DP World. ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton will deliver the petition in person to DP World CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem at the company’s headquarters in Dubai on March 29.
Tolich said he encourages all New Zealanders who believe workers should get a fair go to sign and share the ITF petition in coming days to show their support for the sacked P&O seafarers.
The ITF affiliated unions in Aotearoa/New Zealand are:
Aviation and Marine Engineers’ Association (AMEA)
Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ)
Merchant Service Guild Industrial Union of Workers (MSG)
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU)