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New Zealand port unions raise concerns about handling Russian ships

Two workers unions said their members are reluctant to work Russia-flagged ships in the country’s ports

The move is in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is not directed against crew of Russian ships

UNIONS at ports in New Zealand said their members are reluctant to work Russia-flagged ships in the country’s ports and are looking at ways of airing their protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union said in a statement it may deliver letters of protest to the captain of any Russia-flagged vessels in New Zealand ports.

General secretary Wayne Butson said any protest to be made by the union is not directed at Russian vessel crew, but against “aggression and war decisions” of Russia’s leaders.

The Maritime Union of New Zealand said many Russian and Ukrainian crew work in the country’s waters as both nations have large maritime industries.

Craig Harrison, its national secretary, said the union had dealt with exploitation and mistreatment and assisted in the repatriation of crew members from both countries.

He said there are several Russia-flagged vessels in New Zealand ports, including large fish factory trawlers in ports such as Lyttelton.

Both unions are affiliated to the International Transport Workers Federation, which has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Russia-Ukraine hostilities.

It has also urged resolution of the conflict at the diplomatic level and respect for human rights and humanitarian law.

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