The industrial dispute at the Ports of Auckland has gone too far, according to city business leaders, and is not only affecting the lives of too many other people but damaging Auckland's reputation.

Fonterra has pulled its export shipments from Ports of Auckland because of ongoing industrial action at the port, taking with it up to $100,000 a week in revenue.

Weekly trade worth around $27 million - and $90,000 to $100,000 a week for the port - will instead be rerouted through the ports of Tauranga and Napier from the end of the month.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett responded to the news by saying the effects of the dispute had gone beyond the parties involved.

"It's serious. It is about Auckland's reputation ... It's got to the point where it's affecting the lives of too many other people whose jobs or employment or viability in business are also at risk."

A Fonterra spokesman said the company made the decision to ensure certainty of supply for its international customers.

It would look at returning its business to Auckland once industrial action had ceased.

The port, local business and politicians on the right yesterday said the loss of Fonterra's business was a crisis that needed immediate action.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is on holiday on Waiheke Island and was unavailable for comment. However, a spokesman said the mayor had been in contact with both parties throughout.

"He doesn't believe anything would be gained by a public debate while efforts continue to resolve the dispute."

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said the industrial action would hurt the port's reputation as well as Auckland's.

He said previous loss of business from Maersk, the world's biggest shipping line, and now Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, would endanger other port contracts.

Industrial action last month cost the port about $3 million, with further strike action planned for a 48-hour period between Monday and Wednesday next week.

Chris Fletcher, leader of the Citizens & Ratepayers bloc of councillors, said the industrial action was turning into a disaster for Auckland.

Councillor Mike Lee said those looking to make political gain from the Fonterra announcement needed to understand the dairy giant had always rotated its business amongst ports.

"I think they're being a little disingenuous in stating that the reason why they're changing, again, is something to do with the dispute."

Maritime Union president Gary Parsloe said Maersk's decision to end their contract was also a commercial one unrelated to the strikes.

He said the union was ready to return to mediation immediately and it was the port's inflexibility which would see further strike action.

However, Mr Gibson said the union had failed to officially respond to its "best and final" offer.

He said it included a 10 per cent rise on hourly rates and performance bonuses of up to 20 per cent on hourly rates.


*100 per cent council owned
*$3m what the strikes have already cost the port
*$5m of annual revenue will be lost when Fonterra moves exports to other ports
*$20m of annual revenue lost when Maersk moved a service to Tauranga