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Workers to strike at Lyttelton Port as pay negotiations fail

Workers to strike at Lyttelton Port as pay negotiations fail

By Suze Metherell

April 28 (BusinessDesk) – Workers at Christchurch’s ocean port plan to strike after pay negotiations between Lyttelton Port Co and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union fail.

The logistic officers, who are responsible for planning the movement of freight and cargo across the wharves, will strike from Friday between 11 pm to 7 am Saturday morning, the RMTU said in a statement. The 11 workers are seeking a 4 percent increase in pay over the next 12 months, above the 2.85 percent offered by management.

“The sticking point in the talks is pay, although ironically money doesn’t seem to be the issue as it would cost LPC only around $10,000 to settle this dispute,” said John Kerr, RMTU South Island organiser. The members have been negotiating since before Christmas, he said.

RMTU said port management didn’t want to set a precedent for negotiations for a wider collective agreement which covers over 400 port workers. Lyttelton Port wasn’t immediately available for comment.

In February the port resumed dividend payments for the first since they were suspended in 2010 following damage sustained in the Canterbury earthquakes. The company had a $438.3 million settlement with Vero, NZI and QBE, of which it recognised $357.6 million in insurance income in the six months ended Dec. 31, 2013.

Shares were unchanged at $3.19 on the NZX and have gained 39 percent in the past year. The stock is tightly held with Christchurch City Holdings, the investment arm of the council, owning about 80 percent of the company, while Port Otago holds another 15 percent.


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