Ports dispute back with mediators

Wharfside workers and the Ports of Auckland are heading back into mediation, dashing hopes that an 18-month employment dispute would be  resolved quickly.

After receiving recommendations from its employment mediator, the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) held a meeting last night with the port and the facilitator to clarify some ''grey areas''.

MUNZ president Garry Parsloe said the areas of contention were confidential, but he expected to have dates for a fresh round of mediation talks soon.

The union was focused on achieving a settlement, he said.

Ports of Auckland, which has accepted the Employment Relations Authority's recommendations, said this week it hoped the bitter and costly battle could be put to bed.

Before heading into mediation, the dispute resulted in a crippling strike at the port last February and March. 

It revolves around efforts to put permanent workers on a more flexible roster and shift work.

MUNZ, which argues the new system would give its members no security or lifestyle, estimates the dispute initially affected 300 wharfies, including casuals, but a few have since left.

Ports of Auckland says it has 271 stevedores in total, two-thirds of which are unionised. It argues the port needs to introduce a modern, flexible roster system, as it strives to compete with the successful Port of Tauranga.

Auckland Now