Ten picketers arrested after truck tyres are punctured

By Maggie McNaughton

Ten people on a National Distribution Union picket line in South Auckland were arrested yesterday after a clash between picketers and a moving truck.

Police said the fracas broke out outside Toll Logistics in Mangere, a trucking firm that delivered goods to Progressive Enterprises stores.

It happened as locked-out workers of Progressive distribution centres prepared to enter the third week of their dispute for a national collective agreement.

"Some were charged with disorderly behaviour, some with obstructing police and some with obstructing a roadway," said Senior Sergeant Cornell Kluessien.

He said a truck driver had told police he had felt threatened.

"He said they tried to open his door and pull him out and that two of his tyres had been spiked."

National Distribution Union organiser Ingrid Beckers said last night the truck had driven dangerously through the picket line.

"The driver unwound his window and swung a metal pole around.

"It was quite a terrifying situation."

She said a police officer turned up soon after and arrested a union organiser.

"More police turned up and about eight to 10 people in total were arrested for things like obstructing police and obstructing a public road," said Ms Beckers, who was one of the arrested.

"The arrests were completely unwarranted. It was a peaceful picket line."

Last night the two unions representing port and maritime workers in New Zealand said they were discussing direct action to support the locked-out distribution workers at Progressive Enterprises.

Maritime Union general secretary Trevor Hanson said failure to get the dispute resolved meant union members would immediately begin reviewing their options to deal with Progressive cargo coming into New Zealand ports.

He said both New Zealand unions had been in joint discussions on solidarity actions with Australian unions including the Maritime Union of Australia, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union and the Transport Workers Union, and solidarity donations were already arriving.

The Council of Trade Unions will hold a special meeting of affiliated unions in Wellington today to discuss more financial support for workers in the dispute.

CTU president Ross Wilson said that union and public donations had boosted the lockout fund to $40,000 and the meeting would discuss intensifying fundraising.

- Additional reporting NZPA

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