Mediation fails as Ports rejects union's 'lost wages' compo claim

UPDATE - 5.45pm Mediation between Ports of Auckland and the Maritime Union today failed to reach agreement on a return to work by Maritime Union members following the lifting of strike action last week, the union said in a statement.

“Ports of Auckland continues to raise ‘ghost’ health and safety concerns in the media as the basis for what the union considers to be an unlawful breach of these workers’ employment agreements. This will be a matter for the court to consider tomorrow,” union president Gary Parsloe said.

Mr Parsloe said the union presented PoAL with four demands on Monday:

1. There will be an immediate return to work with all collective employment agreement obligations being met.

2. Compensation for lost wages arising from a refusal to allow return to work last week.

3. Meeting at 7 am tomorrow with all workers available to be addressed by Tony Gibson and Garry Parsloe setting out expected behaviour, arrangements etc.

4. Acknowledgement by way of joint statement that some parties on both sides may perceive health and safety risks but parties are actively cooperating to manage these perceptions.

The proposals were rejected by Ports, Mr Parsloe said. 

The two sides will be back in the Employment Court for another hearing on Tuesday.

Transporters and retailers, heavily affected by protracted industrial action at Auckland Port, are anxiously hoping this afternoon’s mediation between parties is successful.

The Maritime Union (MUNZ) and the Ports of Auckland (PoAL) began talking at 1pm..

“The strike is hurting our industry pretty bad, there has been significant productivity loss,” national road carriers association chairman Chris Carr told NBR online.

Mr Carr said there had been a significant loss of productivity since December, with an overall drop to be estimated at about 40%.

“That is biting and of course not just that, but there are some incredibly long times we are spending trying to pick up containers. One of our members said he spent seven hours waiting for a container to be loaded on his truck and our company spent six hours waiting for a container. Of course there is no money in that for anybody,” he says, adding that logistics companies are feeling the strain.

New Zealand retailers association chief executive John Albertson says that while most retailers were “getting by” at the moment, there are growing fears that the shelves will start drying up soon.

“We are obviously getting stock from other ports, but that takes added time and obviously added cost. In terms of a sufficient supply chain, at the moment we are far from it and there is just too much product having to be shifted too far. Inevitably those costs need to be recovered,” he says.

He said the longer the disruption continues the more of a knock-on effect it will have on business along the supply chain.

“I don’t know how long the other ports can keep up the level they are at the moment, I presume they are now into the pattern, which will obviously make it difficult for Auckland when they come back on stream again,” he says.

“Stock is shorter than it normally would be and there is that added cost. Hopefully we will see a resolution as soon as possible”.

After a judicial settlement conference at the Employment Court last week, PoAL halted its contracting-out process and both parties agreed to return to mediation today.

Last week PoAL issued union workers with notices of a lockout beginning on April 6. An injunction filed by the union challenging the lockout is due to be heard tomorrow morning. 

No new date has been set for an adjourned hearing, due to begin today, of the union's substantive challenge to the Ports contracting out policy.

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7 Comments & Questions

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look, stop moaning you earn huge money, people flip burgers in mcdonalds all night for way less, and you complain about your hours, ever thought of the retail and hospo workers who give you the coffee in the middle of the night? take a look around.

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This whole sorry saga explains the GAP between NZ & Aust.
We couldn't organize a pissup in a brewery !

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Just close the port and see what happens to their pay then :-)

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the union is not acting on the best interest of it members. Sack the union people and apply for your job and be commited to it.

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I wonder how you would react if it was your job on the line? After being there for over 10 years, with the company continually making profits year after year, but someone was willing to come in to do your job for less, you'd willingly just accept that would you? I don't think so.

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I would ask the union to back off and act on my best interest, which should be primery to ensure that I have a job. In this case the actions of the union have resulted in everyone being made redundant.
Union members are not the only one who have to go through companies restructuring, changing the way they operate and employees made redundant. today this is a fact of life. In my work life I have been through more than 30 "restructuring" and had to cope with the stress of the possibility of loosing my job and was one time made redundant. What does it make union members so special in relation to all other workers in NZ? Get off your high horses

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Interesting that the Union has driven so hard to completely destroy the business the Port brings to Auckland. Does it even matter to them that companies have gone out of business because of this debacle? Does it matter that some companies have withdrawn all business from POA and will not return? Look i'm all for standing up for your rights, but hurry up already! Give up the picketing and start talking and making decisions FAST, or we wont have a Port in Auckland to give anyone jobs. Think about it and stop being so self absorbed - not everything is about you.

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