Unions to consider KiwiRail's proposal

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 07:12 28/11/2012

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Union members involved in a long-running pay dispute with Interislander will decide today whether to accept a proposal that would end the threat of a strike.

KiwiRail handed representatives from the Aviation & Marine Engineers Association and the New Zealand Merchant Service Guild a revised proposal for pay conditions on Monday, which the representatives will put in front of union members to vote on today.

The proposals follow compulsory mediation between KiwiRail and the unions, representing 54 deck officers and 70 engineers, which started on Friday and resumed on Monday.

The unions had served strike notice on KiwiRail, threatening to withdraw their labour from December 1 to 8. The company responded by issuing lockout notices.

The dispute threatens to disrupt Interisland ferry services from Saturday.

KiwiRail senior communications adviser Sophie Lee said it was up to the union members to consider the company's proposal, and the lock-out could be avoided if they accepted it.

The lock-out would go ahead if the union members decided against the proposal.

"As of this moment, the lock-out still stands."

KiwiRail estimates the action will affect about 14,000 passengers and 4000 cars. About 1200 rail wagons and a similar number of trucks will also be delayed.

Representatives from both unions were unavailable for comment yesterday afternoon, although Merchant Service Guild general secretary Helen McAra said on Monday night the dispute would be resolved if the members accepted the latest proposals.

"But the members will decide."

The groups began contract negotiations in March.

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- The Marlborough Express

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