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Issue #1446      10 March 2010

Rig workers mobilise against Maersk

Hundreds of protest emails from Australian oil rig workers, and their supporters, are flooding into the e-mail in-boxes of top executives at Maersk, the big Danish multinational container shipping firm, and oil rig operator.

The email protests are coming from trade union-backers angered that Maersk seems to consistently discriminate against union members. For almost two years union members of the Maritime Union of Australia and Australian Workers’ Union (MUA-AWU) Offshore Alliance on the Maersk-owned drill rig Nan Hai 6 have been trying to seal a deal with this iconic Danish shipping giant.

“Our members have reached out to the wider community to tell Maersk you can’t mistreat Australian union workers in this way,” Paddy Crumlin, MUA national secretary, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) executive board member and chair of the ITF Dockworkers section, said.

Nearly 500 hundred emails were sent from across Australia and the globe in a little over 48 hours.

“These workers have a right to have a union represent them, the company should sit down and talk – and not offer side deals to the non-union workers which so obviously discriminate against our members,” Paul Howes, AWU National Secretary, said.

Maersk employees on the Nan Hai 6 oil rig – employed on non-union AWA individual contracts – enjoy extra leave, are provided with health insurance coverage and receive salary increases denied to union members.

The two-year stand-off in negotiating a collective agreement with the union should end, the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance leaders say.

Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller is the wealthiest man in Denmark.   

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