Auckland dock workers are threatening to usher in 2012 with yet another strike, as well as walking off the job over Christmas.
The Maritime Union yesterday ended a day of mediated talks - at which Ports of Auckland made a new offer - by issuing notice of a 48-hour strike from 7am on December 30 until the morning of New Year's Day.
It is the fourth strike notice lodged during a dispute involving about 320 workers at the company's two container terminals and support facilities, and will follow two threatened 24-hour stoppages between Thursday and 10.30pm on Christmas Day.
Port company chief executive Tony Gibson said the union should reconsider "this extremely unfortunate step", which would be exacerbated by KiwiRail's summer shutdown of Auckland's rail network. That would mean extended delays for freight deliveries, which would have to rely on road transport for moving containers between Auckland and ships diverted to other ports, such as Tauranga.
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Mr Gibson said his company yesterday offered a 10 per cent rise on hourly pay rates in return for "full operational flexibility and productivity increases".
That would mirror individual agreements covering 12 non-union workers, and was offered as a last-ditch bid to resolve a dispute which had already disrupted $630 million of pre-Christmas trade and cost the company a contract worth $20 million a year.
Workers would be offered an opportunity to lodge their preferences a month in advance for shifts of between five and 12 hours.
Union president Garry Parsloe said the offer equated to "the minimum rates" included in the individual agreements, but the latest strike notice was in response to letters sent to members' homes threatening to contract out their work if the dispute went on.
"We've never said anything about the money - we will get around to addressing that soon," he told the Herald.
"We've said [to the company] we don't mind you having a fight with us and locking us out, but you stop attacking our families and if you do it again we are going to give you another strike notice, and [Mr Gibson] has done it again."
Told that the company had decided against issuing any more lockout notices, Mr Parsloe said: "We would sooner have him lock us out than send filthy, reprehensible, repugnant literature to our houses."