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Port Union: Chch City Holdings needs reining in

Joint Media Release Maritime Union of New Zealand/Rail and Maritime Transport Union

For immediate release Friday 7 April 2006

Port Unions say Christchurch City Holdings needs to be reined in over Lyttelton debacle

The Maritime Union of New Zealand and Rail and Maritime Transport Union say an advertisement by Christchurch City Holdings Limited (CCHL) in New Zealand newspapers today shows the business arm of the Christchurch City Council is "in over its head."

The advertisement says that CCHL wants to "end the domination of New Zealand ports by overseas shipping lines" and wants to pursue "cooperation with other ports."

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the CCHL claims are transparently dishonest.

He says the statement that CCHL want to "partner with an international player who can stand up to the powerful, foreign owned shipping lines" could only be described as humourous.

"One thing is clear - the international player in this instance is going to clean out the small-timers in the Port of Lyttelton gamble, and that is no joke."

He says there are better ways of standing up to the powerful, foreign- owned shipping lines than by selling up and handing over control to powerful, foreign-owned port operators.

Mr Hanson says the CCHL advertisement was PR spin intended to muddy the waters and confuse the public.

"It shows that the privatizers are in damage control mode, but they just seem to be digging a deeper hole for themselves."

Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says the claim that CCHL wants to cooperate with other ports was nonsense.

"This is a ridiculous claim given that CCHL have just failed in their bid to part privatize the Port of Lyttelton to a global maritime multinational, with the goal of knocking out other ports."

Mr Butson says that far from being concerned about ports being played off against each other by international shipping lines, CCHL have stepped up this process by their goal of selling out to a global port operator.

"It seems like managers in CCHL are calling the shots, and the majority owners - the people of Christchurch - are told what's going on through ads they pay for themselves."

He says the Christchurch City Council needs to take back control, and start acting as representatives of the public interest.

Both the Maritime Union and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union are part of the Keep Our Port Public coalition that is calling for public ownership and control of the Port of Lyttelton.


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