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    Unions take Trico dispute to OECD

    News // March 9, 2001
    Offshore Mariners United (OMU) - a coalition of US maritime unions and the International Transportation Workers Federation - has asked the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to investigate Trico Marine Services' alleged violations of the OECD's Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

    The OECD Guidelines are designed to promote responsible conduct by multi-national enterprises and to facilitate resolution of disputes. According to OECD Guidelines for Employment and Industrial Relations, "employers must respect the right of their employees to be represented by trade unions, engage in constructive negotiations," and "not to hinder the exercise of a right to organise."

    "Trico's anti-worker behaviour has been condemned by organisations around the world," said Tom Zehner, a former Trico captain fired for his public support of efforts to organise a union at Trico. "We're now asking the OECD to investigate this situation and bring the parties together in hope of resolving this dispute."

    According to the union's submission, "Trico's conduct regarding its treatment of its employees constitutes a systematic attempt to deny them their rights and to deprive them of representation by Offshore Mariners United."

    The submission asks the US State Department (as the National Point of Contact for the OECD) to meet with the representatives of the unions and Trico to seek a resolution to these issues.

    "Trico is one of the world's great hypocrites," said Dwayne McCullogh, another captain who was fired by Trico for supporting the union, "they operate under union contracts in the North Sea and Brazil, but in America they fight and fight against their workers efforts to have a voice at work."

    The complaint alleges that Trico has responded to efforts by Trico workers to form a union with a campaign of harassment and intimidation.

    Examples of the company's tactics mentioned in the complaint include: terminating employees who speak out in favour of unionisation; forcing mariners to attend anti-union, "captive audience" meetings aboard the company's vessels; sending anti-union messages to mariners' homes and distributing anti-union literature at work; instilling fear in their workers that joining a union may jeopardise their careers with the company and in the offshore industry; and providing explicit instructions as to how employees may revoke union cards.

    Upon receiving a submission, the Guidelines require that the National Point of Contact communicate with all parties to the dispute and seek ways to find a resolution to the underlying matters.

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