Timaru port lay-offs expected

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 16:03 09/08/2012

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Redundancy announcements are expected at a meeting between Timaru's PrimePort workers and management tomorrow.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union organiser John Kerr said both parties would meet at 9am.

The port company is losing its container trade, which makes up a significant portion of the work. PrimePort employs 55 staff and 30 casual workers.

Kerr said 50 of those jobs will go.

"We've been saying in the build up to this that about 50 jobs will go; the company has been pretty coy but we're preparing for the worst.

"We're expecting they will give us a firm proposal about the number of jobs that are going."

Kerr said industrial action was unlikely.

"We're fettered by employment law; you can't take any sort of action when you're fettered by a collective contract. It will be a proposal; we have a right to be consulted and we just want to make sure the member entitlements are honoured."

PrimePort management has indicated that while the loss of the container contract is a major blow, it remains a viable business with a significant bulk service.

It has also been working on the possibility of establishing a coastal shipping service.

PrimePort chief executive Jeremy Boys confirmed that a meeting would be held with staff tomorrow.

"I will be announcing a draft proposal for the structure of the business and staff roles going forward.

"A period of consultation will follow and nothing will be finalised until this is completed; a process that we expect will take at least a month.

"However as reported previously, we recognise the impact will be significant; this remains a difficult time for staff and we will do our best to give support to the whole team as we work through this."

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- The Timaru Herald

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