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Ports suspends plan to contract out jobs

Ports of Auckland (PoAL) has suspended efforts to hire contract labour to replace 292 sacked wharfies, and agreed to re-enter collective bargaining with the Maritime Union.

The move followed a judicial settlement conference at the Employment Court in Auckland yesterday, during which both sides agreed to a period of mediation lasting up to a month.

While the ports company has made concessions there is so far no indication when, or if, striking workers will return to work.

Union pickets remain in place this morning and the possibility of more strikes has not been ruled out.

Because of a reduced level of work, any return to work by strikers depends on the progress of mediation.

PoAL has agreed to take no further steps to make the 292 sacked strikers redundant, and to halt attempts to source contract workers through Allied Workforce, Drake Personnel or any other party.

Return to work no done deal

Union president Garry Parsloe told NBR Online details of the settlement conference were confidential but he could say that union members were meeting at noon today to discuss whether or not they would return to work.

Mr Parsloe could not rule out the possibility of further strikes and says all the issues will be discussed at today's meeting.

"Encouraged" by judge

PoAL’s chairman Richard Pearson told NBR Online Judge Barry Travis had encouraged both parties to resume collective bargaining mediation and for PoAL to halt its contracting out for four weeks. 

More by Conor O'Brien and NBR staff

Comments and questions

what? we're not going to see common sense prevail are we?, can't have that, they might reach agreement.

Round 1 to the Union. Now watch for the TKO and goodbye to the political lackey appointees to the gravy train and that idiot CEO who cannot even articulate an arguement coherently. Maybe it is time for professional managers and proven chairpersons to take the reins of POAL.

The Union will have to accept the first offer made by the ports or be sacked. Simple as that. Parsloe & Kelly, hang your heads in shame for the plague you have delivered to Auckland !

Yes, you are right, you are an Idiot!

I don't use 'LOL' much, but this is an 'LOL' moment!

Watch as PoA slowly disintegrates into a nothing company, as shipping firms leave for Tauranga. Although this is a good thing for the country, it is amusing and sad to see as well.

One has to wonder what the Employment Court is thinking. If they persist in this sort of decision-making then they might as well doom Auckland to being portless. It will be interesting to see how many more companies start moving to other ports to secure efficient and reliable operations, regardless of how the union wishes to spin this.

Think that the Employment Court is simply trying to progress/encourage a WIN-WIN situation for everyone. There is always a middle ground, maybe the parties simply haven't been made to see it yet.

Good to see the Ports following due process and acting in good faith. More than can be said for the union and the more than 'interesting' comments coming from their so called leaders. The Ports are still going down the track of contracting out and like the majority of watchers believe this is the best option given the inefficiencies under the current structure. There is no doubt we will see a port that users 3 contracted stevedoring co. in the near future. The port workers who haven't applied for these jobs needs to and soon to secure a future for themselves and their families.
The comments from both Kelly & Parsloe are another example of a poorly advised union, and I am sure will come back to haunt them.

Well Len. Looks like you won't have a Port but look at all the space you'll have for your trainset!

Very interesting comments have been posted. But one should well know that the whole & correct story (or facts) are often not presented or know by the general public. There is often underlying motives/tactics behind what is put out there in the public space - I feel sadden that this is happening to NZ & that people (especially thoses in management positions) seem to have lost the plot - in that it should be a united team unit working towards the good not just for the business but for everyone. The outcome of this situation will set a presendence for all NZ workers going forward.

good faith?

The only issue at stake with MUNZ is that there was a lack of good faith bargaining.

So POAL go back to the table - cut a deal - then a few months later they can still go and contract out as they have always had the right to do so. They just need to follow correct process which should not be too hard.

Its great to see that productivity has increased at the Port since the MUNZ members have been off-site - that is a very telling story

Methinks this was a case of big egos on both sides getting in the way of common sense. Both have entrenched positions that they wont back down from. Both see it as a win or a lose. If I had my way both sets of so called leaders would be taken out and shot and replaced with people with integrity ethics and common sense. but it wont happen because there are none anywhere near this matter.

They're still picketing and can't rule out more strikes? LOL,why do these guys not want to work? They're goners for sure. This is just delaying the inevitable. Sheesh, what a waste of time. And what a waster have idiot unions.

I do not understand why the management fought so hard to get the union on the ropes - and with 90% of the public behind them - then backed down and allowed the farce to resume.

By doing so they have ensured any future threats of firm action will have zero credibility.

Or am I missing something?

The PoAL are demonstrating that they have undertaken every possible avenue of "good faith" yet despite all this - the union are still living in 1950.

Imagine if the Ports were privately owned and the owners had all these hoops to jump through - just trying to get their own property to be more efficient... can our Central Government see the massive handbrake on productivity these organised thugs cause for NZ??

About time the government moved to eradicate the rats from the wharf - Auckland and NZ are tired of being held to ransom by beligerant antagonists too lazy to do a full days work and far too stupid to realise today is 2012 - not 1950.

Where's Penny....

The 'elephant in the room' in this dispute is the port ownership (or more importantly, lack of it). The port is not 'owned' by the ratepayers of Auckland - it is in effect owned by a trust with the fiduciary duty to manage it for the ratepayers of Auckland - the 'beneficial owners' with no legal control powers.

If PoAL had real shareholders, they would have ditched the shares months ago, collapsing the share price, triggering foreclosure by lenders with the untilamte result of the port being placed in liquidation. Solves the problem by getting rid of both management and (unionised) workers. The receivers sell the assets and a new firm emerges from the ashes. this is what happens in the 'real world' where workers and management really do need each other and to work together to both survive.

The only reason that both sides have the 'luxury' of the tactics seen here is because those in whom the beneficial owners have put their trust have failed in their fiduciary duties. Public ownership may guarantee that a firm will survive indefinitely, but it also prevents the natural process of inefficient firms 'dying' and making way for more efficient ones to replace them.