Following enquiries, this advisory points reporters to employment law covering strikes and lockouts in essential services.
Schedule 1 of the Employment Relations Act lists certain occupational groups of ‘essential services’, which are bound by extra notice provisions for strikes and lockouts.
Ports are included in Part A of the schedule, specifically: The provision of all necessary services in connection with the arrival, berthing, loading, unloading, and departure of ships at a port.
In a Port, for either a workers’ initiated strike, or an employer initiated lockout, 14 days notice needs to be given of the action.
This morning, Ports of Auckland served an indefinite lockout notice of workers, to take effect in 14 days time at 12.01am on Friday 6 April 2012.
Until then, Ports workers are legally able to enter the Port to carry out their jobs as normal, following the lifting of the union’s existing strike notice.
Any lockout of workers between now and April 6, therefore amounts to an illegal lockout.
The Maritime Union will also challenge the legality of the lockout notified for 6th April.