Container ships avoid strike-bound port

Container ships are avoiding the strike-bound Port of Napier - costing the port thousands of dollars.

Port workers have been picketing since Saturday in protest of the loss of jobs.

The action is expected to continue until the Maritime Union and the port meet for mediation tomorrow.

About 25 permanent and 60 casual staff employed at Hawke's Bay Stevedoring Services have been threatened with job losses after the port handed the contract to rival Mount Maunganui-based company International Stevedoring Operations.

Port chief executive Garth Cowie said container ships were avoiding the port, which could cost it "over $10,000 per ship".

"And it's not just that - it's also loss of wages for our staff," he told the Dominion Post.

Two ships had bypassed the port entirely, while another stood out at sea yesterday hoping for a resolution.

Maritime Union of New Zealand spokesman Victor Billot said yesterday the strike action would continue until Wednesday when mediation talks were planned.

The 120 picketers from around New Zealanders have been joined by dockers from the Maritime Union of Australia.

- NZPA

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