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Lyttelton port workers to take 24-hour stoppage

Lyttelton port workers to take 24-hour stoppage

Workers at Lyttelton Port have given 14 days’ notice of a 24-hour strike on Thursday 8 March after mediation failed to resolve concerns over safety and pay today.

“This was supposed to be the twenty-second meeting we’ve had since collective bargaining started in July, but management didn’t even join us in the room, let alone amend their position”,” says John Kerr, organiser for the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

“Management wants to change the hours of work for cargo handlers so the port can operate 24/7. We understand why that’s necessary - but it has to be done safely.”

“Despite acknowledging that their demands may increase fatigue to the point the work would be unsafe, management are still pushing the point.”

Lyttelton Port Company has no policy for managing fatigue. Although the union is part of a joint working group with management and external experts from Massey University, the port’s negotiation team is insisting on changes before that group publishes its recommendations.

“This makes no sense to us. We’ve proposed an interim settlement with a nominal wage increase so we can all put our energy into coming up with a safe way for the container terminal to operate around the clock,” says John Kerr. “That means working constructively together and managing the risk of fatigue.”

The second issue is that Lyttelton Port Company has refused to properly compensate maintenance staff for a proposed roster change that could compromise their earnings by up to $6,000 per year.

“We’re only asking for a fair deal ,” says John Kerr. “Workers shouldn’t lose money, especially when the port is profitable – because of the hard work they do – and the chief executive was paid more than $18,000 per week last year. ”

The full stopped on 8 March is in addition to a ban on overtime that begins on 3 March .

“We want Lyttelton Port Company to make a realistic offer and get these negotiations settled so we can get on with the business of running the port safely and productively,” says John Kerr.

Lyttelton Port Company is owned by Christchurch City Council, and the RMTU believes political intervention may be necessary.

“We’re sure the Mayor and Christchurch city councillors want the port to be managed safely and to continue to operate from the benefit of everyone in our city, so we’re asking them to do the right thing and step in here,’’ he said.
ENDS

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