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Mediator's Radically Changed Report Untenable

30 April 01

The South Island port dispute mediator's final report had departed from a focus on what the mediation process had been supposed to achieve in favour of a clearly more politicised set of proposals, Jay Goodenbour, Carter Holt Harvey Chief Operating Officer, said this evening.

"Mr Grills's latest report is fundamentally different from his own recent finding on facts. Previously he was trying to find a resolution to the dispute, now he is arguing for port reform.

"In his interim report Mr Grills had focused on the key claims that Mainland was denying work to South Islanders, casualising the workforce, undercutting other firms, and introducing dangerous work practices. He rejected these claims as false and supported Carter Holt Harvey in seeking more innovative and effective ways to load its ships. "In less than a month, and without any advance discussion, he has produced a completely different report. This focuses on a new claim - that Carter Holt Harvey's contract process is not competitive. Introducing this claim now makes a mockery of the mediation process. The company remains open to offers from other stevedoring firms, as it has throughout the dispute."

Mr Goodenbour said the company would continue to examine all offers put forward by interested parties and would consider each on its merits.

"While Mr Grills recognises that Carter Holt Harvey has acted within its rights, he seeks to impose restrictions on the company that any business would recognise as untenable.

"The broader political direction signalled by the final report further confirms our decision taken last week to withdraw from mediation. We simply want to ensure that our ships can be loaded without interference, while the WWU and Mr Grills have a different agenda focussed more broadly on port reform."

ENDS

For further information please contact: Robert Mannion 025 853 546


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