Lyttelton Port workers plan second strike as pay, roster dispute rumbles on
By Sophie Boot
April 5 (BusinessDesk) - Lyttelton Port Co workers belonging to the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) will begin striking again later this month as the union and maritime hub operator remain in dispute over pay and rosters.
RMTU members went on strike for five days last month after talks broke down, and today the RMTU said it will strike again for five days from April 20. The port is offering a 3 percent wage increase each year for three years, with no roster changes. The union wants its members to get a 4 percent increase in the first year, the same deal as members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ). However, the port says it cannot give the RMTU workers the same pay as the MUNZ workers unless they also accept the roster changes which MUNZ has agreed to.
John Kerr, the union's South Island organiser, said the members had voted to strike again before Easter, but held off issuing a notice in hopes the two parties could come to a proper resolution.
"There have been discussions, but once again LPC has rejected any compromise we suggested," Kerr said. "They remain determined to force our members to pick between inferior pay and conditions, or unsafe rosters."
However, the port says the union rejected three separate options it suggested, and the union's offer is too expensive for it to accept.
"The sticking point is that the RMTU want the same 4 percent salary increase in the first year that their workmates in MUNZ received, but they refuse to make the roster changes MUNZ members already have made," said chief executive Peter Davie. "RMTU claim the roster changes agreed to by MUNZ are unsafe. It is ludicrous to think we would ever put forward unsafe changes and the 201 MUNZ members have no safety issues with the roster changes."
Lyttelton Port manages more than half of the South Island's containers and 70 percent of imports, the port said. In their press releases, both sides stressed the importance of the port to the South Island's supply chain.