Employers will cheer facedown with union
Ports of Auckland's decision to make their redundant workforce will be hailed as a breakthrough by other employers.
Ports of Auckland’s decision to make its striking workforce redundant will be hailed by employers as the breakthrough they have been seeking if it is upheld in the courts.
While the unions may seek to challenge the legality of the decision, they are unlikely to find much solace.
Already, the Employment Court has ordered sympathy strikers at CentrePort in Wellington to return to work for refusing to unload a ship that was handled by non-union labour in Auckland.
The Auckland port company’s decision parallels that of Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce’s decision to shut down the Australian airline for a couple of days to resolve continuing disputes with its unions.
In that case, Australia’s industrial legislation backed the company’s decision and ordered the unions to return to work while negotiations continued.
In Auckland, the Maritime Union mounted a militant response to defend work practices that have long been ruled out in rival ports such as Tauranga.
The ports company is also under public pressure from its expansion plans, with public opinion going so far as to urge the container operation eventually be moved from the city waterfront.
While the union has gained sympathy from other union-controlled workplaces, and internationally from other ports, the Wellington court decision means any industrial action to back this up is not an option.