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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, Dec. 20) – New Zealand-based Reef Shipping Ltd. has criticized Niue government stevedores for refusing to unload cargo vessels at Alofi on Sundays and public holidays.

The company’s chief executive officer,Wayne Harris- Daw, has called on the Niue government to try and change local attitudes to working hours.

He said freight is sometimes delayed because companies are concerned their ships will be stuck in port as locals do not work on those particular days.

Mr Harris-Daw’s comments come as sea freight from New Zealand has been delayed due to the MV Southern Express losing its rudder on December 6 off Great Barrier Island. Cargo for Niue is being taken to Apia aboard the MV Southern Cross and will be trans-shipped to Alofi on December 26.

The shipment was due on December 24 – among the cargo are Christmas parcels from friends and relatives in New Zealand and containers of food and frozen goods.

Mr Harris-Daw said the company had this year lost at least one round trip by delays caused by stevedores not working on Sundays and public holidays.

Stevedores have been in talks with the government recently over pay rates and problems caused by the lack of manpower on the wharf during unloading.

Cargo vessels anchor in the roadstead and containers are loaded into barges and unloaded at the wharf by mobile crane.

Working on Sundays has long been a contentious issue on Niue. Several years ago, flights in and out of the island were re-scheduled because the government refused to roster staff to work on the Sabbath.

December 21, 2004

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