Maritime Union welcomes mayor’s intervention in port dispute

Press Release – Maritime Union of New Zealand
In a response to a letter received today from the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown on the Ports of Auckland dispute, the Maritime Union says it is committed to continuing to make every effort to settle a collective agreement with POAL.

The Mayor has stated to the Maritime Union and to POAL that he holds a strong expectation that recommendations from the facilitation process are used as a vehicle for ending the dispute.

Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says the Union can assure the Mayor it will consider and respond in a positive way to the recommendations of the Facilitator due to be released in the next week.

“We have worked hard and bargained in good faith before and during Facilitation to settle a fair and balanced collective agreement that provides greater flexibility on the Port while providing our members with security of employment, time off with family, predictability and a safe roster.”

Mr Parsloe says the goal for the Union is to reach such a settlement to this long standing dispute and avert the possibility of industrial action.

He says over the last two days the Maritime Union have been briefing the International Transport Federation (in NZ and globally) and the Council of Trade Unions on the current status of the dispute and the need to finally resolve a dispute which has had huge costs to our members, to businesses and to the community.

It is clear this dispute can be resolved if there is a willingness of POAL to do so, says Mr Parsloe.

“To date there has been little willingness to address fundamental issues like certainty re start times and time off, which are vitally important to a safe working environment and the ability to have time with family, and committing to not contracting out our work as they tried to do earlier this year.”

“Our members are part of this community and they have the right to be employed on a fair and balanced collective agreement and we welcome the Mayor’s strong statement about the urgent need for a collective agreement to be settled between MUNZ and POAL.”

News from Auckland Council
The Mayor has written to the parties involved in the industrial dispute at the Ports of Auckland advising them of his expectation that they abide by the recommendations of the facilitator in the dispute.

“This dispute has dragged on for over a year. The union and port management entered into a facilitation process to try to resolve their differences. Having entered into the process, it is incumbent on both parties to see that through to its end,” says Len Brown. “I expect that the facilitator’s recommendation should allow the parties to settle. It is likely to require some give and take, but the recommendations of the facilitator should be accepted by both sides.

“While the council owns Ports of Auckland Limited via Auckland Council Investments, it is a stand-alone operation and operates on a fully commercial basis. The council cannot and should not intervene in the dispute. However, I do not want to see more disruption at the port. I have conveyed that message to both parties in a letter today.

“As an employer, Auckland Council supports collective agreements. We also know that the nature of modern international shipping, with larger vessels requiring speedy turnarounds, requires flexibility and innovation. These are not incompatible.

“The port is an important investment for the Auckland Council and a vital piece of transport infrastructure for the Auckland and New Zealand economy. Both sides in this dispute need to work together to implement the recommendations of the facilitator to settle and ensure the smooth running of the port.”

The facilitator is expected to release his recommendations shortly after discussions with the ports company and the union have concluded.

How long have the parties been bargaining?

Bargaining on a new collective agreement started in August 2011 with extensive assistance provided by the Mediation Service. Industrial action took place from December 2011.

How long has the facilitation process been in progress?

Facilitation provided under the Employment Relations Act 2000 commenced with the union and the employer on 8 May 2012. The process has continued since then with regular meetings between the parties and the facilitator.

What has been achieved?

The parties have identified many of the terms of conditions of employment on which agreement can be reached, however several key issues remain unresolved including rostering and contracting.

What are the next steps?

Both the company and the union remain willing to continue with facilitation, the statutory objective of which is to assist parties to resolve difficulties in concluding a collective agreement. The facilitator is expected to release his recommendations shortly after discussions with the ports company and the union have concluded.

 

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