Ports dispute 'could be resolved next week' - Greens

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:02 16/03/2012

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The Greens say the bitter Ports of Auckland dispute could be resolved at a settlement conference next week if "cool heads prevail".

Plans by the Ports of Auckland to make 292 workers redundant and engage contractors were yesterday put on hold until Monday after the company agreed to wait until the conclusion of an Employment Court judicial settlement conference.

It follows legal action taken by the Maritime Union which is set down for a substantive public hearing the following week.

The acrimonious dispute over the casualisation of work on the ports has dragged on for the past eight months.

This week it resulted in claims the striking workers were stopping trucks entering the port and counter claims the company leaked personal information about one wharfie to a right-wing blogger because he took part in media interviews.

Greens industrial relations spokeswoman Denise Roche said the dispute was far from over.

"Cool heads can resolve the dispute on Monday."

Port workers had already made a number of concessions and it was time for the company to back down from its proposal to contract out jobs, she said.

"The legal action shows the workers clearly have a case.

"It is time for there to be a positive solution to this dispute once and for all."

The union members were the only skilled workers who knew how to work the port, Roche said.

"Auckland needs these workers back on the port as soon as possible doing the job they do best with fair hours and rosters and good job security."

The Ports of Auckland is owned by the Auckland Council but run at arm's length from councillors by a limited company, Auckland Council Investments.

The Council yesterday voted down two motions to support the wharfies and rejected a review of its requirement the port double its return to the Council from 6 to 12 per cent.

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