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Unions say Port Otago move on Lyttelton good sign

Port Unions say Port Otago move on Lyttelton a good sign

New Zealand's two port unions, the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU), have welcomed Port Otago buying a 10.1% share in the Port of Lyttelton.

The move puts the proposed deal between Ports of Lyttelton and multinational port operator Hutchison in doubt.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the move is a positive one for the industry.

"New Zealand is at the mercy of international shippers who use their bargaining power to play ports off against each other in an inefficient and destructive competition."

"We don't want to worsen the situation by further multinational control, and the Port Otago development is a good one in our view."

He says ports need to be working together, in public ownership, to ensure industry stability, and a quality export and import service not controlled by global shipping and port conglomerates.

"New Zealand is dependant on shipping and ports, and to allow more infrastructure to be controlled by the global multinationals would be economic and political suicide."

Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says the move sends a message of stability for South Island ports.

"Union members have lived and died with privatisations which were always heralded as being in the best interests of the nation, citizens and business and yet it has been the workers and the people of New Zealand who have always ended up paying the true cost of these privatisations."

He says it is lunacy to sell off controlling interests to foreign multinationals of vital infrastructure assets like our ports, and so it is gratifying to see that commonsense is alive and well in Otago.

"We hope this move by Port Otago will preserve the benefits that are generated for New Zealanders, particularly for those who live in the Otago and Canterbury regions, and in particular employment opportunities."

He says the ports return a good dividend to the public through ownership by local Government.

Mr Butson says the Unions favour public ownership of New Zealand's ports as a vital part of our transport and logistics sector.


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