Strike action still looming at Lyttelton Port, talks to continue Friday

Further mediation at Lyttelton Port Co's container terminal has failed to reach a settlement.
Further mediation at Lyttelton Port Co's container terminal has failed to reach a settlement.

Strike action is still looming at Lyttelton Port Co's container terminal after further mediation failed to reach a settlement although talks are continuing Friday, the port said in an emailed customer notice.

"The current strike notices have not been withdrawn. There remain strike notices in place for Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January, and for three days from Friday 3 February to Sunday 5 February," port marketing manager Simon Munt said in the statement.

According to Munt, mediation with the Maritime Union of New Zealand on Wednesday and Thursday failed to reach a settlement but "progress has been made" and talks will now continue Friday.

A spokesman at the Maritime Union said he couldn't comment on whether talks were continuing Friday but said "the union is committed to ongoing talks. We are trying to get this resolved as soon as possible and we are hoping that a positive solution is just around the corner."

Between 160 and 180 Lyttelton Port employees are part of the Maritime Union covered by the collective contract for the container terminal, which employs more than 250 people. Port management wants to line up work rosters more closely with the company's operating needs.

The existing Lyttelton agreement was set to expire on March 7, 2016, and negotiations for a new collective agreement started in January last year, with 30 meetings in the second half of 2016. On December 1, union members unanimously voted to go on strike after rejecting a proposal by port management, with the outstanding issues over planned changes to the start and finish times for nightshift workers by up to four hours.

Munt also reiterated that LPC is legally challenging the validity of the February 3-5 strike notice and hopes to provide an update on the outcome early next week.

Meanwhile, he said the port has contingency plans in place to manage container shipping over the strike periods and said it will be providing reduce receiving and delivering services during the industrial action over the next two days.

- BusinessDesk

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