International union welcomes Ports return to work

Press Release – International Transport Workers’ Federation
Global union the ITF (International Transport Workers¹ Federation) is welcoming the news that wharfies in the Ports of Auckland are able to return to work after a lockout notice issued by port management was withdrawn.

Following hearings in the Employment Court on Friday, Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL) committed to returning to negotiations with the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and halting proposals to contract out stevedoring work, plans which would have seen 300 workers made redundant.

Reacting to the news, ITF president Paddy Crumlin who is also chair of the ITF dockers¹ section, said: ³This is a victory for common sense. It reinforces the fact that these 1998 Patrick-style assaults on workers¹ rights and organised labour won¹t be successful. It reminds everyone in the stevedoring and maritime industry that the only way forward is to negotiate in good faith for a collective agreement. Dockworkers of the world unite in a crisis and they won¹t allow this sort of behaviour from militant employers to prevail.²

He continued: ³It¹s a victory for the workers who have refused to cave in to the unscrupulous plans from POAL management to lockout the workforce and contract out labour on the ports. It¹s a victory for MUNZ, the MUA and dockworkers around the world who have refused to bow to POAL¹s demands and the ITF who have kept a close watch on the dispute.²

Despite welcoming today¹s decision from POAL, the ITF was concerned to note a statement released by POAL CEO Tony Gibson, which questioned the productivity of MUNZ workers.

ITF dockers¹ section secretary Frank Leys said: ³This statement just hours after the decision to go back to the negotiating table was announced shows bad faith on Mr. Gibson¹s part. It also emphasises the point that whilst we are celebrating this victory, we have won the battle not the war. The ITF and the international trade union community will remain vigilant over this dispute until the ink is dry on a fair and substantive collective agreement for Auckland workers.²

Leys went on to highlight the role of international solidarity in bringing about this u-turn decision: ³This dispute has reached beyond the borders of the docking industry. There¹s been action and support from seafarers, aviation workers, truck drivers, railway staff. This is about mass casualisation, the contracting out of an entire workforce, and it struck a chord with workers all over the world who are fighting every day to protect their jobs. International solidarity from union rank and file, the people on the ground who are doing the work which keeps our world moving, they got behind the workers here in Auckland and that¹s played a huge part in securing this victory. It¹s a giant step for the trade union movement, not just in New Zealand, but around the world as well.²

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