New Zealand transport workers are backing UK ferry workers after a shock mass sacking.

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)
E Tu
Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ)
Merchant Service Guild Industrial Union of Workers (MSG)
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU)

New Zealand’s fuel security is under threat

Following the decision to close Marsden Point refinery, petrol companies want to import refined fuel to our ports with overseas shipping. This means the two coastal tankers on the New Zealand coast MT Kokako and MT Matuku will be removed from service.

New Zealand will then be completely reliant on overseas shipping to supply our fuel – with no backup.

Maritime workers are campaigning to keep our New Zealand crewed coastal tankers in action to protect our fuel security. We want the petrol companies to put fuel security for New Zealand first, not corporate profit.

New Zealand tankers can move fuel internationally to New Zealand ports. This would provide fuel security and a dedicated, safe and skilled New Zealand workforce going into the future.

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