Veteran British rockers attract the cruise ship crowds
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Veteran British rockers attract the cruise ship crowds
Read the original: Rockers attract cruise ship crowds
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Senior members of the US Congress are demanding an inquiry after a Shell oil drilling ship ran aground off Alaska.
See the article here: VIDEO: Inquiry call after rig runs aground
Cruise company Carnival reports another big fall in profits, as its continues to be affected by January’s capsizing of its Costa Concordia ship in Italy.
Follow this link: Carnival sees big fall in profits
Nationwide employee protests ahead of Black Friday continue as international union asks ship operators to raise concerns
An international trade union has asked ship operators handling goods in Walmart’s global supply chain to raise concerns with the company about how it treats its US workforce.
Walmart has been affected by a series of walkouts and protests by several union-supported groups seeking to highlight what they say are low pay, poor benefits and retaliatory measures against those employees who speak out.
A series of high-profile protests are now planned to highlight “Black Friday” this week, which is the busiest single shopping day in the US calendar.
Now the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has written to shipping owners and ship captains who carry Walmart goods and asked them to contact the gigantic global company and express support for the protesting workers. “Walmart workers taking industrial action know that their jobs are at risk. The least we can do to help is use our expertise at sea and relations with the shipping industry to back them in any way we can.”
ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton told the Guardian: “We’re talking to captains and the ship operators moving Walmart goods, and asking them to register their concerns with the company about its treatment of staff – and the impact that could have on trade.”
The ITF is a global union federation representing around four and a half million transport workers worldwide.
In recent months, parts of Walmart’s outsourced warehouse supply chain in the US have been hit by strikes and demonstrations. Walmart has accused unions of seeking to cause trouble and organise its workforce. It has said previously that only a tiny minority of its 1.3 million US staff are joining the protests and has defended its wages and benefits as offering good jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans.
But the protests do appear to have rattled the firm. Walmart has filed a complaint with the labor board asserting that OUR Walmart’s protests violate federal law that prevents 30 days of picketing when a union is seeking recognition. Walmart says the protests fit that description and are actually sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It has sought an injunction to prohibit the protests. Both OUR Walmart and the UFCW deny those allegations and say that they are not seeking union recognition.
However, Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo said: “There are only a handful of associates at a handful of stores who are participating in these UFCW publicity stunts. Most of the folks who are turning out aren’t Walmart associates but instead union representatives and members. An overwhelming majority of our associates are excited about Black Friday and are ready to serve our customers. We’re proud of the job they do not only during this busy holiday time but also throughout the year.”
OUR Walmart has also filed complaints alleging that public statements made by Walmart executives have amounted to a threat to protesting employees. Walmart spokesman David Tovar this week warned on CBS Evening News of the possible consequences for employees walking off their scheduled shifts. “If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job. And if they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences,” he said.
That statement angered some OUR Walmart members. “Some of my co-workers are afraid, but this kind of intimidation by Walmart management is an example of why we are going on strike. I know my rights and I’m not afraid to protest,” said Dan Hindman, a California Walmart worker and member of OUR Walmart.
Those protests look set to go ahead and range from walkouts to leafleting of shoppers as they crowd into stores in the hunt for bargains to stunts like “flash mobs” and other events.
They are currently planned in various cities in states that include California, Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Wisconsin.
Entertainment group Walt Disney posts a rise in quarterly profits, boosted by higher revenues at its sports network ESPN and cruise ship operation.
Original post: Disney quarterly profits increase
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Read more: Goodbye to my favorite mutual fund ever
Ocean liner to have just 300 of 1,000 rooms developed and be moored at Port Rashid, not Palm Jumeirah, say owners
Dubai has scaled back plans to turn the QE2 ocean liner into a luxury hotel at the tip of the emirate’s famous palm-shaped island, announcing on Monday that the ship would be moored in an unglamorous part of town instead with many of her original fittings.
Unveiling a more modest version of a project that was scuppered by Dubai’s 2008 debt crisis, the ship’s operator – the investment arm of indebted conglomerate Dubai World – said the ship would still become a luxury hotel, but that just 300 of the original 1,000 rooms would now be developed. Nor, as originally envisaged, would the vessel be moored at Palm Jumeirah, the dramatic manmade island off Dubai built in the shape of a palm tree.
“Unfortunately we had many ambitious plans but they didn’t work,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Istithmar – the unit that bought the QE2 for $100m (£64m) in 2007 – and chairman of port operator DP World.
“What we are doing now we should have done when we got it,” he said.
The public areas, such as the restaurants and entertainment halls, would be largely left as they are, he added.
The QE2 is currently moored in Port Rashid in Dubai – a gritty commercial port a long way from the tourist-friendly neighbourhood of Palm Jumeirah – and will remain there, said Sulayem.
“There have been many grand ideas. There were plans of renovating it in such a way that it becomes something totally different to what it used to be. But we realised soon that a lot of people like the ship as it was,” he said.
Launched by the Queen more than 40 years ago, the ship was used as a venue for a star-studded New Year’s eve bash last year, but has otherwise largely been left unused, with some media reports suggesting it had been abandoned.
Talks were ongoing with three hotel operators, including Dubai Holding-owned Jumeirah Group, to run the new hotel, said Sulayem.
Though more modest, he said the new plan would see Port Rashid transformed into a tourist hub – replete with a maritime museum – to host the new hotel.
The conversion work is due to be completed in 18 months.
“Wait 18 months, you will not recognise this place,” said Sulayem.
As P&O heads for 175th anniversary, dismissal of restaurant staff after pay protest threatens to cast shadow over celebrations
The cruise ship Arcadia will take pride of place in festivities to commemorate 175 years of P&O shipping on Tuesday, with royalty in attendance and the Red Arrows saluting overhead.
But as the P&O Cruises fleet sails from Southampton, the Arcadia will be without the Indian restaurant crew who were serving British passengers this time last year. For daring to protest for little over an hour at their falling, meagre earnings – and despite the assurances of the ship’s captain and P&O’s British head office – the careers of about 150 people have been quietly, summarily ended.
Signs of trouble had been growing on the P&O fleet for years amid passenger complaints at falling standards. But such irritations had a more serious downside for crew members, whose livelihood depends on the goodwill of the clientele. With basic wages of as little as 75p an hour, tips make up the bulk of earnings – and these were drying up.
In late 2010 P&O Cruises had agreed to review procedures, to instigate more auto-tipping, and underwrite the crew’s precarious wages. But by the middle of 2011 nothing had been done.
The Arcadia was on a 72-day cruise from Southampton to Alaska via the Panama canal and back. A number of passengers were booked only until San Francisco, where they disembarked to fly home. And, again, the expected tips from departing passengers failed to materialise.
With the Arcadia in port in Seattle, about 150 of the lowest paid decided to protest. Before that evening’s meal, the waiters gathered on the dockside.
The demonstration inconvenienced some passengers, who had to wait for their usual table at the Arcadia’s Meridian restaurant or dine earlier at the ship’s Belvedere food court. Fewer than usual made it to the cabaret that night. But as one passenger blogged, the overall atmosphere was good.
Before the 90 minutes were up, the good-humoured protest was over. The ship’s British captain, Kevin Oprey, had spoken to the Southampton head office to relay the restaurant staff’s concerns. The waiters then returned to work, labouring late into the night, and were assured there would be no recriminations or sanctions.
While most on board assumed the matter had been amicably laid to rest, a different decision was being taken in the head offices of P&O’s owner, Carnival. This protest could not, directors decided, be tolerated – no matter what assurances the captain had given the crew.
The crew completed their contracts – typically six to nine months at sea, at least 14 hours’ work a day, every day – and returned to their homes and families in India, expecting to get the call as usual to rejoin the ship.
Just before Christmas last year, the letters arrived. Carnival had, they stated, listened to the crew. They were talking through the options for a “more guaranteed remuneration package at some point in the future”. They were “working on a project to address the issues”.
As the Guardian reported in April, this new remuneration package would raise the lowest rate of basic pay to £250 a month. Additional bonuses, replacing tips, could be withheld from crew who failed to achieve satisfaction ratings of 92%.
But Carnival’s letter continued: “Unfortunately, the majority of the restaurant crew on the Arcadia chose not to wait … Instead these crew, which included yourself, chose to take industrial action … greatly impacting our customers. This behaviour is not something Carnival UK is prepared to tolerate.”
No waiter who took part in the protest would be re-engaged on any Carnival UK ship. Neither would they be offered any future contract by their employers, the Mumbai recruitment agency Fleet Maritime Service International. Enclosed was a letter from Fleet which added: “We have been provided with details regarding the situation from Carnival UK advising that they do not wish to re-engage you on a ship.” It said that, “after careful consideration, we agree”.
Fleet’s employees are not protected by British law: the letters of effective dismissal list only the address of its registered office in Bermuda, a favoured flag of convenience for ships based in ports far away. The Fleet payroll office is in the tax haven of Guernsey. Yet the letter is signed by an Edward Jones, the chief financial officer of Carnival UK.
Steve Todd of the RMT union, which represents British seafarers, said: “Big, reputable cruise companies have got convoluted ways of getting past the employment legislation of countries they belong to – there’s a brass plate on the wall in Bermuda and the levers being pulled in head offices at home. It’s a shabby, unacceptable practice to exploit cheap foreign labour and it needs stamping out.”
A spokeswoman for P&O said on Sunday: “The withdrawal of labour, which was undertaken by some of Arcadia’s restaurant team on May 10 2011, was without warning, ‘unofficial’ and greatly impacted our customers. At the time the captain committed that no disciplinary action would be taken. As a result all crew were allowed to complete their current contracts.
“However, given the serious and inappropriate nature of the staff’s actions P&O Cruises has decided not to offer any further contracts to the crew concerned.”
Fleet is the largest employer of cruise ship personnel in India, and Carnival runs half of the world cruise market. Historic connections mean Indian crew largely find work on the British ships Carnival controls. Ship workers often send the bulk of their pay packets to support families at home.
The chief executive of Carnival UK, David Dingle, told the Guardian earlier this year that at the recruitment office in Mumbai “there are queues out on to the street. It clearly is of value to these people.”
Massive Response at NJ Port After Noises Heard in Cargo Container
NBC New York
By Jonathan Dienst and Brian Thompson Federal and local authorities descended on a ship at Port Newark after US Coast Guard officials heard sounds coming from a cargo container area below deck during a routine inspection early Wednesday.
Possible Stowaways on Ship in Port Newark
Search for suspected stowaways continues in Port Newark ship containers amid …
Stowaways Suspected in Container Ship Docked in NJ