Port dispute unresolved a year on

04:19, Sep 13 2012

Hackles were raised at an Auckland Council meeting today over the industrial dispute between the Ports of Auckland and the Maritime Union of New Zealand, still unresolved one year after it began.

The collective agreement dispute had "'reputationally and financially affected us", Councillor Dr Cathy Casey told the meeting, and it was only right the public be advised it had still not been resolved.

She put forward a resolution to amend the council's annual report.

She moved that the council acknowledge the dispute which began in September was currently in court-ordered mediation. She wanted council to reiterate its view "that the dispute preferably be resolved by a new collective agreement".

Cr Wayne Walker supported Casey's proposed change and said it was important for Auckland to be kept informed of the status of the dispute.

The motion was lost 11 votes to six.

Gary Swift, chief executive of the council-controlled organisation Auckland Council Investments, owner of the port, came under fire after delivering his quarterly report.

Casey, incensed with wording Swift had used in a Sunday Star-Times report last weekend in which he referred to "organisational redesign and flexibility" regarding the port's workforce, demanded to know what he meant.

Swift said he was referring to labour flexibility via a new collective agreement which would enable the port to compete with the Port of Tauranga.

"It doesn't mean contracting out," he said.

Cr Alf Filipaina sought assurances from ACIL and the council that the dispute would not go back to where it began around the thorny issue of rolling over the collective agreement.

Swift said that was a matter for the port's board, not ACIL, and the port and the union were still engaged in confidential facilitation.