22 Nov 2007

Vanuatu shipowners threaten strike action if VMA Act repealed

3:52 pm on 22 November 2007

The Vanuatu Shipowners Association has warned it could take strike action at the end of the month if the government pushes ahead with plans to repeal the Vanuatu Maritime Authority, or VMA, Act.

As well as liquidating the VMA itself, the Bill would end shipowners' access to the Marine Participation Investigation Fund which assists ships in times of need, such as during cyclones.

The Vanuatu Shipping Registry in New York pays money into the Fund each year and the VMA fears that repealing the Act could mean more than 600 international ships could leave the Registry or demand a refund.

The Association's vice-president, Dinh Van Than, says if the government takes out the VMA, there'll be no statutory body to look after shipowners as well as their services and vessels.

"That we intend to stop every ship for end of this month if they continue with this Bill, we will go to strike. And that's a very bad time because in the Christmas season everybody wants to travel home and things like that."