The first strike is planned to start tomorrow (Friday 24th), with the others taking place through to 16 March.
“These repeated strikes only serve to make it difficult to set dates for further mediation, while placing unwarranted pressure on staff, families, customers and the supply chain,” warned POAL chief executive, Tony Gibson.
To date, strike action has caused the loss of NZ$25m (US$21m) worth of business to Ports of Auckland.
He said that the campaign being run by the union over ‘privatisation’ and ‘casualisation’ has no basis in fact and is not what the dispute between the port and MUNZ members is about. In a statement earlier this week, Gary Swift, chief executive of Auckland Council Investments, the port’s owner, said there were no plans to privatise the port.
”The Union is trying to portray greater flexibility as casualisation – these are two different things. A casual [worker] has no set hours or days of work. That would not be the case either under a collective agreement or with competing stevedoring companies. The number or proportion of people with permanent jobs would not be significantly different. Our offer in bargaining for a Collective Agreement was actually to give more casual employees full time positions,” explained Gibson.
“It’s getting difficult to understand what the union is now striking over. Unfortunately, we can’t recall a single bargaining round in the last 15 years where MUNZ hasn’t taken some kind of industrial action,” he added.
It is understood that the union is also attempting to incite international third parties to act against the interests of Auckland and the New Zealand supply chain. However, Gibson has said that the impacts of the strikes would be much more severe if it wasn’t for non-union staff that have helped keep operations going in recent months.
Tomorrow’s strike will impact 11 ship-calls, six of which will be handled at the port’s multi-cargo operations and Fergusson Terminal; the others will divert to other ports. The port is working with customers regarding contingencies to minimise the impact of the other planned strikes.