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Strikes to hit supply chain hard says Port

by Ports of Auckland on 2012-02-23

As New Zealand enters the peak export season, Ports of Auckland is working to try to ease pressure on the New Zealand supply chain caused by the three upcoming week long strikes by the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ- Local 13).

MUNZ members covered under the Collective Agreement will go on three week-long strikes – the 9th, 10th and 11th strikes since December - starting Friday 24 February to 16 March.

“These repeated strikes only serve to make it difficult to set dates for further mediation, while placing unwarranted pressure on staff, families, customers and the supply chain,” Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson said.

Mr Gibson said that the campaign being run by the union over ‘privatisation’ and ‘casualisation’ has no basis in fact and is not what the dispute between the Port and MUNZ members is about.

”The Union is trying to portray greater flexibility as casualisation – these are two different things.  A casual has no set hours or days of work. That would not be the case either under a collective agreement or with competing stevedoring companies. The number or proportion of people with permanent jobs would not be significantly different. Our offer in bargaining for a Collective Agreement was actually to give more casual employees full time positions.”

“Its getting difficult to understand what the union is now striking over.”

The action has caused the loss of $25m worth of business to Ports of Auckland.

“Unfortunately, we can’t recall a single bargaining round in the last 15 years where MUNZ hasn’t taken some kind of industrial action.”

“New Zealanders also will be concerned today at attempts by MUNZ to incite international third parties to act against the interests of Auckland and the New Zealand supply chain.”

Mr Gibson said the impacts of the strikes would be much more severe if it wasn’t for non-Union staff who have helped keep operations going in recent months.

The first week-long strike starting tomorrow impacts on 11 ship-calls, six of which will be managed through our multi-cargo operations and Fergusson Terminal, with the others diverting to other ports. For the subsequent week long strikes we are still working with customers regarding contingencies and how we might be able to minimise the impact.

The Port has been strengthening its on-port operational capacity, and is confident of being able to maintain limited road R&D at both Fergusson and Bledisloe, and limited container exchange services on vessels.

About Ports of Auckland
Ports of Auckland Ltd is New Zealand’s most important port, handling around 894,000 TEU (20ft-equivalent units), more than 1,500 ship calls and 3.5m tonnes of break-bulk (non-containerised) cargo per annum. It is New Zealand’s leading import port and a key partner to export and import industries, as well as New Zealand’s premier cruise port and vehicle import gateway. Ports of Auckland is 100%-owned by Auckland Council Investments Ltd.