The Maritime Union of New Zealand, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, and the New Zealand Merchant Service Guild have released a joint statement to demand national stevedoring standards after an employee died at the Ports of Auckland.
On 19 April, 26-year-old Atiroa Tuaiti, an employee of private stevedoring company Wallace Investments, died at Ports of Auckland after a fall aboard a container ship.
Following the incident, the unions have jointly written to the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety to address the health and safety crisis in New Zealand ports and call for a national inquiry following several deaths and injuries that have taken place in recent years.
The Rail and Maritime Transport General Secretary, Wayne Butson, said that the circumstances surrounding the death are being investigated through the appropriate mechanisms.
“Another death in the Ports of Auckland after the last few years is a severe blow and a further sign that something is badly wrong in the port industry,” Butson said.
Butson noted how the incident is not an isolated case.
“This is a systemic issue in the stevedoring industry and not confined to one port or employer.”
He added that unions are now urgently calling for robust and enforceable national standards in health and safety in the ports industry.
“We would expect issues such as hours of work, shift patterns, productivity pressures, training, fatigue, equipment, processes and PCBU responsibilities to be looked at.
“From this process, we would expect an outcome of national standards for stevedoring operations in port health and safety to be developed and introduced in an urgent timeframe.”