Mayor's offer to mediate 'too late' - Port

By Hayley Hannan

Len Brown. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Len Brown. Photo / Sarah Ivey

An offer by Auckland mayor Len Brown to mediate the stand-off between the Port of Auckland and union workers comes too late, says port management.

The council-owned company announced last Wednesday it would change to contract work for its Fergusson and Bledisloe Container Terminal operations, meaning up to 292 employees, mainly stevedores, will be made redundant.

The decision follows eight months of talks, mediation, strike action and lockouts.

Auckland mayor Len Brown came forward to offer his services to mediate talks between the two groups, but Ports of Auckland chairman Richard Pearson said its decision to contract out the work had been made, reported Radio New Zealand.

"The decision to outsource for the stevedore contractors, that has already been made and implemented. They are already appointed, and we cannot go back on that. That is irrevocable.''

He said union members were being stopped from applying for the new contract roles by sinister elements within the union.

Maritime Union president Garry Parsloe rubbished the claims of workers being discouraged from applying for new work, and said he had called a meeting with members this morning to address the allegations.

"They're telling me they don't want to go and work for any contractors, they don't want to take the conditions being offered, they don't want to have their conditions ripped from under them, and they want some job security.

"If he wants to go and apply for the job, he will. I don't know how we can physically stop them. That's just nonsense.''

He said none of the union workers would apply for the new roles.

Auckland mayor Len Brown was scheduled to meet with the union today, he said.

"This is the start ... These workers aren't going to be bashed and kicked around and left lying on the footpath. They've got nothing to lose, absolutely nothing to lose, and they're going to pursue this.''

Industrial action also continues at AFFCO.

About 700 freezing workers who avoided being locked out began a strike this morning at six meat plants across the country.

The Meat Workers Union members began a 48-hour strike at 5am today in support of 1000 colleagues who were locked out by management on February 29, reported Radio New Zealand.

Plants in Feilding, Whanganui, Moerewa, Horotiu, Rangiuru and Wairoa are affected, but a management spokesman said similar strikes had not halted production before.

- NZ Herald

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