Maritime Union loses Employment Court bid

Last updated 10:28 10/09/2012

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The Employment Relations Authority has declined an urgent application from the Maritime Union to have its stoush with the Ports of Auckland removed from the authority to the Employment Court.

In a judgment, ERA member Anna Fitzgibbon said it would continue its investigation of the union's employment relationship problem.

The union filed a statement on May 8 this year with the ERA alleging that during strikes in early 2012 the port employed contractors. It sought a penalty against the port because the work conducted by the contractors was that of the striking workers, the union alleged.

The union's lawyer Simon Mitchell argued that the matter should be removed from the ERA to the court as it was an "urgent" matter and important to the union.

The court would be able to deal with the employment relationship problem through an adversarial, rather than investigative process, he said.

Fitzgibbon said Mitchell's arguments were insufficient grounds for the ERA to remove the matter to the court.

The question of whether there had been a breach of Section 97 of the Employment Relations Act and whether a penalty should be awarded was an enquiry the ERA had looked at on many occasions since it formed 12 years ago, she said.

The Employment Relations Authority resolves employment relationship problems that cannot be solved through mediation.

The Employment Court hears and determines cases relating to employment disputes, particularly challenges to determinations of the ERA, questions of interpretation of law, and had first-instance jurisdiction over matters such as strikes and lockouts.

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