Maritime Union laughs off rival in Auckland port dispute

Members of the Maritime Union protesting outside the Ports of Auckland in March this year. Photo / Dean Purcell
Members of the Maritime Union protesting outside the Ports of Auckland in March this year. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Maritime Union is laughing off suggestions it will lose its dominance in the Ports of Auckland dispute due to the emergence of a new union.

Less than an hour before the established Maritime Union was due to rally at the waterfront yesterday to remind the public of its year-long pay dispute, the company announced it had signed a 2 year deal with the new PortPro union just nine days after starting negotiations.

The company denies it set up the union, which has about 30 members who worked during months of strikes by more than 200 Maritime Union wharfies.

In his popular Whale Oil blog, Cameron Slater said the development was "the beginning of the end" of the Maritime Union at the port.

"The damage their strike action caused has turned the port into a desert. There will job losses, and the ones to go will be those on expired contracts i.e. Maritime Union staff. (Maritime Union president) Garry Parsloe, mind, will still be getting paid as his workers get the sack."

Mr Parsloe laughed off this suggestion.

"They (PortPro) are so insignificant with their numbers I'm not concerned. If there were people leaving us and going to them I would be a bit concerned but that's not happening."

Despite PortPro asserting it was independent of Ports of Auckland, Mr Parsloe was adamant they were working together.

"Just take the name of it: PortPro. They're pro-port. And then take a look at what the employer is saying: that they got everything they wanted out of the negotiations so what does that tell you other than capitulation?"

Mr Parsloe said the formation of the union went against good-faith bargaining.

PortPro was set up recently by former Maritime Union member Grant Lane, who wanted to offer non-striking stevedores an alternative.

He has previously said PortPro was "totally independent" of the company, and had been set up to protect the interests of the non-striking workers against any renewed attempt to contract out waterfront work, which has been on hold since March under an Employment Court-approved agreement with the Maritime Union after a summer of industrial turmoil.

- APNZ

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