Container operators sound warning on Auckland port strikes   15 Feb 2012

Hannah Lynch

The International Container Lines Committee, which represents New Zealand’s shipping container sector, is concerned about the prospect of further strike action at Ports of Auckland.

The ongoing dispute is extremely frustrating for the shipping companies, costly for customers and the economy as a whole, said Julian Bevis, ICLC chair.

“I note the union’s comment that the proposed strike is intended to focus attention on the real issues,” Bevis said. “For our customers, the real issue is a secure supply chain. If they can’t get that from Auckland they will look elsewhere.”

The ICLC backs the ports call to lift productivity levels and is urging it to work alongside the Maritime Union to find a solution.

Last week, the union issued the port with a new seven-day full strike notice. The industrial action will start at 7am on Feb. 24, and is on top of a partial notice already in place from 7am on Feb. 15 until 7am on Feb. 22. The partial strike will see wharfies refuse to work on containers moved by the port subsidiary Conlinxx.

Union president Garry Parsloe said last week the industrial actions were intended to “focus the attention of management on the real issues, and the importance of secure jobs to our members.”

This is the seventh strike against the Ports of Auckland by the 300 unionised workers amid a protracted dispute over management’s desire to introduce more flexible shiftwork.

The dispute has cost the port contracts with shipping line Maersk and dairy exporter Fonterra, which have shifted to Port of Tauranga and Port of Napier.

(BusinessDesk)

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