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Issue #1542      4 April 2012

Ports of Auckland lockout notice lifted

Ports of Auckland has cancelled the lockout that was due to start next month.

The cancellation is on the basis that the parties return to the bargaining table, and then use the facilitation process set out in the Employment Relations Act.

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson says the company is acutely aware that its customers and all those in the supply chain are severely affected by this dispute and in order to lift pressure on the supply chain it is lifting the lockout to get goods moving.

Ports lawyer John Haig QC said “for the benefit of both parties” the port has agreed to the following:

  • The current “health and safety” lockout is now lifted by Ports of Auckland.
  • The lockout notice for April 6 is lifted by Ports of Auckland.
  • The port has said workers will be returned to work as soon as possible, and no later than April 6.
  • Union workers will be paid from today until April 6 (that is on top of the earlier decision to pay them from last Thursday to today, March 30).
  • The port will take all reasonable steps to get the Maersk Southern Star service returned to Auckland (it lost the contract to Tauranga).
  • Parties will return to negotiating a new collective employment agreement through mediation and facilitation sessions.

Auckland port workers this week won a court injunction against having their jobs contracted out until mid-May.

Ports of Auckland Limited has since undertaken to pay eight days’ wages to permanent staff who voted last Thursday to end a four-week strike.

Last week International Transport Federation president Paddy Crumlin in Auckland said, “Today marks the first day for five weeks that workers will get a pay packet in their hand.”

He said that Ports of Auckland management was clearly running the port into the ground through their flawed industrial strategy and that it was only because the court forced them into action that workers were paid.

“The ITF firmly believes that the Ports of Auckland Limited board – chairman Richard Pearson and CEO Tony Gibson in particular – has a lot to answer for.

“The whole world is watching the Auckland dispute, which is already affecting the maritime community and has serious ramifications for world trade.

“It’s imperative to try to insert some common sense into the debate with the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown and POAL management. The ratepayers of Auckland are demanding answers to this situation from Len Brown.

“It appears that Ports of Auckland management never intended to negotiate in good faith. To go even further and lock the gates of the port when workers are legally entitled to return to their jobs is morally reprehensible, if not illegal. Board members must be held accountable for this.

“The Mayor needs to find a way to replace the Board with a group who will run the port for the benefit of Auckland residents and New Zealand citizens.”  

Next article – Maude faces calls to go after burns horror

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