Strikes still on cards at port

JENNY KEOWN
Last updated 14:50 12/11/2012

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The Maritime Union has indicated the potential for more industrial action if the Ports of Auckland continues what the union claims is an "attack on port workers and their families."

The union held a two-hour stop work meeting this morning where members voted to back a settlement of the ongoing dispute with the port, provided the port make changes to its current offer.

The two parties have been in facilitation at the Employment Relations Authority over their collective employment agreement since May 8 this year.

Union national president Garry Parsloe said members had reluctantly accepted concessions the union had made in the facilitation to try and get progress.

One of the main concessions they had made was around flexible working arrangements, including agreeing to work two hours each side of an eight hour shift if needed, and to move the shifts around to some degree if required.

But workers were dismayed the ports company is still asking for conditions they claim will destroy basic terms and conditions that provide for some balance in the 24/7 industry and threaten their health and safety, he said.

"Union members will not agree to unfair rostering which would undermine family life, with no certainty of start times, the ability for casuals to be used for any duties thereby removing a career path for workers at the port, and the loss of the limited right of one guaranteed weekend off in every three."

Workers would also not sign a port contract that continued to contain a contracting out provision after what they have been through.

"Our members will fight these changes however they can," he said.

Any decision to take industrial action would be seriously considered as the union was aware of the costs to its members and disruption to the city.

A port spokesperson said it rejected any suggestion that its proposal was anti-family.

The port's proposed roster gave stevedores over three days off a week on average and rosters were published four weeks in advance.

"We firmly reject any suggestion that our proposal is unsafe - note that we are acting to remove current working practices, which don't meet reasonable health and safety standards."

"We're not attacking families - it's a really good offer, with the sort of pay and conditions thousands of New Zealanders would jump at."

On Friday, the port publicly released a summary of its collective bargaining proposal which it had submitted to the authority.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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