The Maritime Union of New Zealand has gone on the front foot in the Ports of Auckland dispute, saying the port company has badly mishandled the situation.
Maritime Union members at the Ports of Auckland voted to take two day strike action starting 2 October, after management started to make unauthorized payments into bank accounts.
Maritime Union of New Zealand Auckland Waterfront Local 13 President Denis Carlisle says Ports of Auckland management have generated a backlash amongst workers.
“The decision to strike was a unanimous vote by our members, which is highly unusual, and indicates the depth of feeling here.”
There are several key issues that need to be dealt with immediately if the port company wanted to regain its credibility, he says.
“The first issue is that the company has made unauthorized payments into members bank accounts, for a pay increase that hasn’t been agreed to.”
He says Ports of Auckland have unilaterally started paying workers the 3.25% wage increase that the company wants to give them – despite that offer being rejected by workers.
Mr Carlisle says the “patronizing” payments are clearly an attempt to undermine negotiations and create division.
“It is dawning on management now that they have stuffed up, and they are trying to justify themselves. They should just apologize to the members and get on with proper negotiations, rather than trying to be clever.”
He says Maritime Union members have individually requested in writing that the 3.25% extra payments be stopped, but management have ignored these requests.
“The second issue is our members have seen a dramatic increase in cargo handling over the last two years, which has affected their families and workers personal lives.”
He says that Maritime Union members undertake around the clock shift work on a 24/7 basis, working with heavy moving machinery in all weather conditions.
Mr Carlisle says that living costs in Auckland have skyrocketed, including getting to work outside public transport hours, and housing and accommodation.
“Our workers deserve a serious share of the productivity that their hard work generates.”
He says the Maritime Union also want to bring in a small group of Planner/Supervisors and Cargo Officers to join the Collective Agreement, which is being resisted by the company for no good reason.
Mr Carlisle says management will have to come around to the reality that they are dealing with an organized and intelligent workforce who will not accept second best.
“Ports of Auckland want a quality, productive and skilled workforce. Sooner or later they will realize they have to pay for it.”