Industrial News

September 5, 2012

Government leaves Oyang crew uncompensated

A year after the crew of the Oyang 75 jumped ship in Lyttelton alleging mistreatment including physical and sexual abuse aboard the Korean owned vessel, the government has stated officially that sorting out unpaid wages is a matter for the shipping agent. Most members of the Indonesian crew received annual incomes of between $6,700 and $11,600, well below the New Zealand minimum wage despite a guarantee that they would receive it.

This announcement could affect as many as 97 fishermen. In May the government legislated a ban on foreign fishing vessels that will be transitioned over the next four years, citing the issues that have occurred with the treatment of workers, as well as safety (another boat, the Oyang 70 sunk last year claiming the lives of 6 fishermen) and other concerns such around fishing regulations. Prior to the ban foreign chartered ships which catch fish worth $650 million a year.

Wages barely keeping up with inflation

The Labour Cost Index (LCI) released last month and representing the year to June shows that wages and salaries are no further ahead compared to inflation than they were six months ago, and 2.5 per cent behind where they were in March 2009.

“Inflation is low, and wages certainly aren’t pushing up prices. But the economy is going nowhere with unemployment remaining high and at current settings likely to remain there for a long time.” Said Council of Trade Unions (CTU) economist Bill Rosenberg. “Most union members on collective employment agreements are getting increases in their pay rates, though there is a big range in the size of the increases.”

“In the EPMU, the largest private sector union, for example the big Metals multi-employer collective agreement covering over 1000 workers in over 100 engineering and manufacturing firms, has been settled at a 2.8 per cent increase in the first year, guaranteeing all those workers that rise. Progressive supermarket employees in FIRST union are in their second year of a 5 per cent annual increase”

“Many state sector employees are getting much less often between 1 and 2 per cent because of the government’s actions in suppressing pay increases, meaning many have fallen behind the increased cost of living. The LCI for the public sector rose only 0.3 per cent in the June quarter compared to 0.5 per cent for the private sector.” Read the rest of this entry »

Challenges ahead for workers in Fiji

September 3, 2012

One of the world’s longest running strikes is happening in Fiji. Members of the Fiji Mine Workers Union (FMWU) in Vatukoula have been on strike for 21 years. While making a submissions to the Constitution Commission last month (Fiji is likely to get a new constitution –the nation’s fourth- next year) FMWU president Josefa Sadreu said no solution to the dispute had been reached since the government promised one in 2007.

“The reason we are making these submissions to the commission is because in 2007, when the current government took over, we were promised resolution of our strike…at a meeting held at the Fiji Human Rights Commission on 23rd April 2007,”

At that meeting, just five months after Commodore Frank Bainimarama ceased power in a military coup the future was looking uncertain for the Fijian labour movement. The history of Fiji, used by the British Empire as a sugar cane plantation worked by indentured Indian labourers, meant the island nation developed a much stronger organised labour movement than other Polynesian nations where pre-capitalist systems of production persisted. Read the rest of this entry »

Taliban targeting NZ soldiers

September 2, 2012
Zabiullah Mujahid

“We are killing the New Zealanders because they are helping the Americans. They have come to kill and arrest our people.”

“We will find them and kill them, there’s no safety for them,” Those were the words of Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, as stated to a Herald on Sunday correspondent. “Yes we knew our target was New Zealand forces, because they are with our enemy and the others who came to our country with guns and weapons. We are killing the New Zealanders because they are helping the Americans. They have come to kill and arrest our people.”

It really couldn’t be said much clearer than that. Regardless of what New Zealand soldiers are doing in Afghanistan they are seen by the Taliban, and likely by other Afghans as well, as part of an occupying force. ” but we do not have any other enmity towards the people of New Zealand,” Muhahid stated “The families of those killed should tell the Government of New Zealand not to send soldiers to kill Afghans, because this fight does not belong to New Zealand. This is an American fight and they have persuaded other countries to become involved.”

Read the rest of this entry »


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