The two main waterfront unions have condemned a proposal to slash 12 jobs at Port Otago.
Both the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) were united in their criticism of the plan.
‘At a time when Port Otago has just delivered a record $12.5 million dividend to its owner Otago Regional Council, it beggars belief that the Port wants to slash jobs,’ said RMTU National Secretary Wayne Butson.
‘Management say they are expecting a decline in container numbers as the Port is no longer the trans-shipment hub for shipping Maersk, but they remain upbeat about the future, saying they are confident about the success of the Port,’ said Mr Butson.
‘That a publicly owned company can consider throwing people out of work in these circumstances is completely unacceptable, those workers created the wealth that was paid out to Otago Regional Council as a dividend and this is the thanks they get,’ he said.
Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Joe Fleetwood said the Port Otago plan is flawed as with growing trade was occurring in some areas of the business.
‘A few months down the track, the company may have to go to all the trouble of employing new skilled staff after letting their current staff go.’
Mr Fleetwood said the port company has to accept that peaks and troughs in shipping was a part of the industry, and to stop using workers as pawns in a situation where the workforce was productive and the company was performing well.
Mr Butson said it had been a bad enough year for Dunedin with 44 jobs being cut at Hillside in July, now more families faced an uncertain future while the Regional Council pocketed a record dividend.
‘The Combined Unions will be doing everything we can to try and turn this proposal around. Unemployment is rising nationally and this region is suffering disproportionally. It seems that both the National led Government and the Regional Council don’t care about workers, their families and the wider community when it comes to jobs,’ he said.
‘We have a couple of weeks to mobilise to fight these cuts before the decision is final. We’ll be holding a joint meeting of our members next week to decide on how we’ll do that,’ he said.