Four-day strike at Auckland container terminals; it will achieve nothing, says Port

Press Release – Ports of Auckland
Tomorrow’s strike action by the Maritime Union of New Zealand – Local 13 (MUNZ) will achieve nothing, Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson said today.

Mr Gibson said mediation talks to date had been unsuccessful. “In a further effort to avert the industrial action, during yesterday’s talks Ports of Auckland offered that, rather than having industrial action this weekend, the union instead hold a full stop work meeting of its members on Friday with all being paid for the day. Unfortunately this offer was declined.”

Mr Gibson said the company now expected the industrial action to proceed and was working closely with Port of Tauranga and KiwiRail to minimise the disruption to importers and exporters.

The port’s container terminals will close for a four day stoppage from 10.30 pm tomorrow.

“Six ships are impacted by the December 1-5 stoppage,” Mr Gibson said. “Three are diverting to Tauranga, one is bypassing Auckland and going straight to Wellington, another has chosen to wait in Auckland and one is still finalising arrangements and may go to Tauranga if it can get in.”

“Around 4,700 containers are impacted and the estimated revenue loss to Ports of Auckland is up to $1.2 million.”

Mr Gibson said that if the situation continued there was a significant risk Ports of Auckland could lose a shipping line service entirely, and jobs could go as a result.

“A further seven ships and as many as 7,500 containers are potentially impacted by the second stoppage, scheduled for 8-12 December. This is a very serious situation.”

“This industrial action will achieve nothing other than to put jobs at risk, hurt hard working New Zealand businesspeople and lose union members money.”

“It would be far better for all concerned if the union would lift their strike notice. We would then lift our lockout notice and we could all get back to bargaining without the threat of industrial action hanging over us. I urge them to do so.”

Mr Gibson said striking in the busy pre-Christmas period was a tactic the union had used many times before. “It is designed to cause as much havoc as possible and it is hugely disappointing to see this sort of disruptive action yet again on the waterfront.”

Mr Gibson said the company had agreed to meet with the union again for further mediation next week.

The company’s Bledisloe and Fergusson container terminals, and associated road and rail services, are affected by the industrial action. Ports of Auckland’s multi-cargo wharves, cruise business, vehicle import trade, marine services, Onehunga seaport, Wiri Inland Port and Seafuels barge Awanuia are not affected. The on-dock empty container depot will also remain open.

The proposed action involves 327 employees out of a total of 580.

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