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Frustrated Ports of Auckland questions workers' agenda

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 30th June 2000

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PERMANENT WORKFORCE: Ports of Auckland
Ports of Auckland chief executive Geoff Vazey has accused the Waterfront Workers Union of being committed to strike action as a political statement rather than settling its members' employment contracts.

The union has given notice of two 48-hour strikes on July 10, 11, 17 and 18 despite the company's willingness to continue negotiations on the collective contracts, which expired in December.

"Informal discussions have indicated the union is preferring to wait until the Employment Relations Bill is passed, when it would pursue a multi-employer contract for the whole port," Mr Vazey said.

"It seems the union leaders plan a series of rolling stoppages to demonstrate their muscle and we can probably expect more strike notices to be given. It leaves us with the impression they are committed to holding a strike and are not interested in reaching a settlement.

"If we could get down to meaningful and genuine negotiations we believe it is possible to reach a settlement without strike action. The company is certainly willing to compromise."

Mr Vazey said Ports of Auckland and the union had met at least 11 times since December 14. He said the union's claims that Ports of Auckland wanted more casual workers were incorrect as the company was committed to a strong permanent force of skilled employees and only 9% of operational cargo workers in the past 12 months had been casuals.

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