Port picket starts to hurt

ROGER MORONEY
AS picketing of the Port of Napier continued for the fourth day, the port company has begun counting the cost in terms of lost trade and staff's wages.
The protest action, by members of the Maritime Union over the threat of local job losses brought about by a Mount Maunganui-based company gaining a container handling contract, would continue until tomorrow when mediation talks are set to be held.
The prospect of mediation talks had failed to convince picketing workers, many of whom had travelled to Napier from around the country and Australia, to cease their action.
Port of Napier CEO Garth Cowie said container ships were detouring away from the port due to the action - which meant wages were being lost and returns to the port of more than $10,000 a ship.
At least two ships had sailed by Hawke's Bay to alternative ports, while one was waiting it out in the stream.
About 100 picketing workers were manning two sites outside the port gates and taking turns on a 24-hour protest.
One of the picketers, Joe Deakin, who flew to join the protest from the Port of Sydney, said he had seen a similar situation arise in Australia where local jobs had been at threat from an outside company being brought in.
"So we are not going to cop this." He said international maritime union community was watching the Napier happenings closely.
Meanwhile, the picket had angered at least one waterfront cyclist who used the cycle-walkway.
It had been closed off due to a barrier being erected to prevent picketers trespassing onto port property.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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