Timaru wharfies back Lyttelton strikers

Lyttelton Port authorities refusing to budge over $10,000 will have repercussions for Timaru when strike actions begin tonight.

Port workers are after a 4 per cent increase in pay - 1 per cent more than the port is offering.

At 11pm tonight logistics officers will walk off the job until 7am and will continue to do so every night leading to a total withdrawal from work on May 17 and 18.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) South Island representative John Kerr said it was not an unreasonable ask as the amount added up to $10,000 in total.

He said container shipping had increased by 9 per cent in the past year, and there had been about a 78 per cent increase in logs being shipped.

''The increases have been due to the hard work of the port employees,'' Kerr said.

With Lyttelton being the gateway port in the South Island all imports and exports will be affected, he said.

''As of tonight there will be gradual delays and backlogs for everything. Nothing goes out, nothing comes in,'' Kerr said.

He said this included goods from companies such as Fonterra, who export dairy products, and food bound for supermarkets which is imported into the country.

Yesterday Canterbury Rail Branch voted unanimously to support striking Lyttelton Port workers using any means necessarily.
Kerr said there are about 30 RMTU members at Prime Port Timaru and he had been keeping them informed of the situation.

They had not yet been able to meet to discuss the situation as he had been busy negotiating with Lyttelton Port, but an option was for Prime Port RMTU members to black list any cargo that was for Lyttelton but redirected due to the strike action, he said.

''I would rather be sat in a nice warm conference room working this out than outside in the cold picketing.''

The Timaru Herald