Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dock Worker Dies After Container Straddle Carrier Turns Over

Unions Call for Changes in Regulations
Shipping News Feature
NEW ZEALAND – The tragic death of a young dock worker when his straddle crane overturned at Ports of Auckland at 3:45am on Monday 27 August has caused an outcry amongst local unions which are calling for enforceable regulations and improved safety standards on the country's waterfront, following three deaths in New Zealand in 2017.

Both the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) passed on sincere sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the worker, who died from his injuries in hospital on 3 September, and commented that only last week, MUNZ had warned that reform was a matter of life and death to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, the Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, and early last month to the Minister of Transport, the Hon Phil Twyford. Joe Fleetwood, General Secretary of MUNZ said:

"This tragic death indicates again the urgent need for enforceable regulations together with mandatory standards of work practices across the New Zealand waterfront. If the government, port companies and stevedoring employers are serious about preventing deaths on the waterfront they must commit to reform the current lack of enforceable regulations.

“We need to put an end to the toxic culture on the New Zealand waterfront where productivity and profit prevails over safety. We again call on the government, together with the Ports of Auckland and other employers, to get moving on it immediately before we witness another preventable death."

The Port of Auckland, the country’s largest container port, is currently upgrading its straddle carrier fleet and by mid-2019 says it will have 27 automated straddle carriers in situ, cutting manually driven models from 40 to 21, ironically a change sometimes resisted by global unions. No mention of the accident appears on the Port website but an investigation as to the cause of the accident has been opened. Paddy Crumlin, ITF Dockers’ Section Chair and National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, said:

“This is a tragedy, every worker deserves to return home safely at the end of their shift. Our thoughts are with the family of this young man, his workmates, friends and our comrades at MUNZ. Another dock worker, has been killed at work. This is fast becoming a global epidemic. We know that ports are among the most dangerous workplaces in the world but every workplace death is preventable. The death of this young worker again reinforces our determination to hold governments, employers and regulators to account and to continue calling on them to work with unions to eliminate health and safety risks.”

Photo: The straddle carrier lies on its side after the accident.