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Nelson port struggle a test of the rule of law

Media Release February 16th, 2000

Nelson port struggle a test of the rule of law

The dispute over who should load logs at Nelson is not an employment relations issue at all, says the Employers & Manufacturers Association.

"The dispute is whether the wharfies' union has the sole right to decide who can get work on the Nelson waterfront, " said Peter Tritt, EMA's employment relations manager.

"Plainly the union does not want to see another union, the Amalgamated Stevedores, working on what it spuriously claims to be its patch.

"The wharfies' union is trying to dictate that only its members should be able to get the work of loading the logs.

"But the issue is not a matter of 'local jobs for local workers' since Mainland Stevedores, the company with the contract to load the logs for Carter Holt Harvey, wants to employ more locals but union tactics are scaring them off.

"Neither is it a matter of getting the cheapest labour force available. We are assured that Mainland Stevedore workers are in fact paid better than other waterfront workers.

"Other employers should be concerned that if the wharfies' union intimidates its way back into control of the Nelson waterfront, the price competitiveness of New Zealand goods will suffer in overseas markets once the same tactics are applied to other ports. Jobs in other industries will suffer.

"The situation is very much a matter of upholding the rule of law - CHH and Mainland Stevedoring have the right to go about their lawful business of loading logs in Nelson.

"Both the Justice Minister Phil Goff and Attorney General Margaret Wilson issued statements today on the importance of upholding the rule of law albeit in a different context.

"All employers will be watching to see the law is also upheld on the Nelson waterfront."

Contact: Peter Tritt tel 09 367 0921 (bus) 09 845 5532 (hme)

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