New port union could spell trouble – lawyer

Ports of Auckland could find itself in breach of its good faith obligations to the Maritime Union by signing a collective agreement with a rival new union, an employment lawyer says.

The Auckland Council-owned port company today announced it has signed a collective agreement with PortPro, a union representing about 30 non-striking stevedores.

The agreement does not affect the Maritime Union's ongoing bargaining.

Bell Gully employment lawyer Liz Coats says the port's move could be seen as undermining the Maritime Union's bargaining position, which is illegal under the Employment Relations Act.

"If Maritime Union members decide they want to join PortPro, that undermines the leverage that the Maritime Union has in its collective bargaining because it doesn't have as much pressure on the port any more.

"The port is not going to be as desperate to accept whatever terms the Maritime Union is putting on the table because it's got a workforce that is not striking."

However, because PortPro only has about 30 members it is unlikely to undermine the Maritime Union's position.

Ms Coats says the port is entitled to enter into a collective agreement with a PortPro, even if that union has similar coverage to the Maritime Union.

"Whether or nor this undermine the Maritime Union's bargaining will depend largely on the solidarity of its members."

NBR ONLINE understands PortPro's collective agreement is similar to the one the Maritime Union rejected.

Ms Coats says because of this it probably will not be enough to cause many people to jump ship from the Maritime Union to PortPro.

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9 Comments & Questions

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So what is Ms Liz Coats saying here?
Is she saying unions shouldn't be subject to competition for members?

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Who would want to join PortPro union...they don't look after the workers...This is another set up by POA CEO Tony Gibson, Chairman Richard Pearson, Auckland Super city CEO Doug McKay...To get rid of the Maritime Union...This lot should of been sacked months back for their Dishonesty

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quite ridiculous and cheap. Unions answer to the workers, so lets hope the standards are high at PortPro. Can't argue with dumb on this one GO THE MARITME a NZ thing

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Thoroughly enjoy this debate. MUNZ got snookered by Port Pro a legitimate union who have muscled in - they saw a business opportunity and grabbed it. It is called competition. Here is a very good example...if all unions were so unified why are there a 150 unions and only 1/4 operate under the CTU banner.

There are more splinter union groups at the moment than there are splinters in the bench at the park. 100 people turned up yesterday...what happened to the other 5000 supporters. 100 turned up for bash a beneficiary protest. I thought there was 160,000 on benefits getting bashed.

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So unions are completely sheltered by law against any form of competition what so ever and any other union established after an original has been established is then seen to be “undermining” the original? ….and then, that so called “undermining” is the inherited culpability of a separate legal entity – an employer, PoAL in this case - because the 1st union’s ability to legally extort pressure against the employer has been greatly diminished by another unions appearance?

This is exactly why NZ needs to completely rework NZ’s employment legislation – how completely wrong is their starting point?

So only a union affiliated with the Labour Party – where a percentage of the over $80,000,000 (eighty million) of annual union membership fees goes to the Labour Party and unions associated with them can be “legal”?

Only a union can legally operate like a legal extortionist monopoly? And any interference of that by another union is the fault of an employer?

Wrong, wrong, wrong for NZ Inc.

Please National – stop tinkering and fix NZ’s employment legislation. It will get the SME’s employing again – but more importantly remove the judder bar unions from the highway of enterprise and entrepreneurship!

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Wasn't it a $100 million in union fees?

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I believe overall it's probably near the $100 Million mark - but around the $80 Million mark for the several largest.

Whale Oil & the Owl have been doing some delving into the unions - and now the unions want a law to give them an unfetted, monopoly - and if another union is started - it's the fault of the hand that feeds them?

Just another reason why the unions and the Labour Party fully deserve each other!

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I read that article too. I think the owl writes some good stuff. Anyway braver people than me.

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Gibson n Pearson dont appreciate the Union workers and the great job these Union members do. Youll only get respect when you give it. Give these men and woman the terms and conditions they rightfully deserve in return for the great service you get from them.. Munz all the way for working class people. port pro what a joke.

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