Port halts plan to lay off workers

By APNZ, Herald Online

Protesters march as part of Ports of Auckland industrial action earlier this month. Photo / Doug Sherring
Protesters march as part of Ports of Auckland industrial action earlier this month. Photo / Doug Sherring

Ports of Auckland's moves to contract out almost 300 jobs have been halted, with the port agreeing to go back to the bargaining table.

The Maritime Union and the port have both agreed to return to negotiations, after a judicial settlement conference was held on Monday.

Minutes from that conference - released today - reveal that the port has halted its contracting out process and both parties will re-enter a collective bargaining agreement.

Under the agreement, the port will not "employ or engage Drake Personnel or Allied Workforce Limited, or any other person to perform the work of striking employees''.

The port had planned to lay off 292 workers as part a drive to contract out jobs to make the port more competitive.

The Maritime Union says its members are thrilled that Ports of Auckland has seen sense and undertaken to halt its contracting processes and re-enter collective bargaining.

Maritime Union national president Garry Parsloe says this now means these workers can safely return to work on the terms and conditions of their collective agreement and do what they have always wanted - concentrate on collective bargaining for a renewed agreement.

"The fact the port has taken this path today is a clear indication they're nervous about potential court action, and realise that the path they have put all their efforts into, including the absolutely unprincipled decision to dismiss the workforce and employ contract labour is not viable,'' he said.

CTU president Helen Kelly said: "Today is great relief for these workers but the fact they've even had to go through this means the Council must now ask serious questions about who's running this port and why the board embarked on a path that has cost the ratepayers millions and done considerable damage to the reputation of the port.

"The council should hold an immediate inquiry into how this whole mess occurred,'' Helen Kelly said.

Mr Parsloe said the main focus of the union will now be to get a settlement for a new collective agreement.

"Whether this board and port management are capable of working constructively to rebuild the battered and damaged relationship with port workers, who they've besmirched at every opportunity, and settle a fair collective is an unanswered question.''

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