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Ports of Auckland union talks stall

Monday 9th January 2012

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Ports of Auckland is set to proceed with a proposal to contract out its labour force, as continuing negotiations with the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) fail to find resolution.

A counter offer tabled on Jan. 6 by MUNZ was rejected by Ports of Auckland, with chief executive Tony Gibson saying in a media statement that the union’s proposal "failed to deliver the rapid improvements needed in work practices and productivity”.

Gibson said he expected the majority of affected employees to continue working at the port though most likely employed by a contractor if the proposed changes go ahead.

With the port having recently lost Maersk shipping and Fonterra Cooperative Group to Port of Tauranga, Gibson says the situation has changed dramatically and Auckland is making plans for redundancies as a result of the loss of business.

“We’ve run out of time. Without rapid changes towards substantially more efficient labour practices, more customers and more jobs will be lost in the coming weeks,” Gibson said.

The most recent port offer included a 10 percent rise in hourly rates, performance bonuses of up to 20 percent, and the retention of existing benefits and entitlements in return for a new roster system it says will provide increased operational flexibility.

The MUNZ website says that of the issues being disputed, the roster is the main concern, with a belief that the flexible roster will result in less hours and subsequently less pay.

“The union position is clear. It does not want the 10 percent - it wants secure ordered and transparent rosters”.

Union workers are preparing for a 48 hour strike beginning at 11pm tonight – the fifth staged since November.

Three ships have been affected by the strikes, with one bypassing, one being serviced at the ports’ multi-cargo wharf, and the third delayed by approximately eight hours.

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