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Transport strikes averted

Transport strikes averted as TIL Logistics, Air NZ find common ground with unions

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 13 (BusinessDesk) - Separate strikes threatening to disrupt travel plans in the run-up to Christmas have been averted as mediated negotiations came up with offers strong enough to take to union members.

Last night Air New Zealand and union negotiators reached an agreement in principle on pay and conditions for more than 970 workers, lifting a planned three-day strike just ahead of Christmas. Pacific Fuel Haul today said it successfully ended talks with First Union on behalf of 164 truck drivers, who also lifted a planned five-day strike notice that threatened to disrupt fuel supplies.

Both deals still need workers to accept the agreements, which have been recommended by the respective unions.

Pacific Fuel Haul, part of TIL Logistics, is the biggest mover of petrol, diesel, LPG, crude oil and condensate, operating 200 tankers and 400 dangerous goods vehicles. It said it was pleased to avoid disruption to fuel supplies ahead of Christmas.

"We pride ourselves on the employment terms we offer our drivers, including three months of training for new drivers, hourly rates well above industry average, sick leave, long-tenure bonuses and redundancy provisions," chief executive Stephen Owles said. "We are conscious that this has been a stressful time for all involved including our drivers, other staff and our customers, and we are happy that we have been able to reach a resolution before Christmas."

The Air New Zealand claim threatened to disrupt 120,000 travellers in the three days before Christmas, triggering accusations by opposition MPs that the Labour-led coalition government had emboldened unions to take more aggressive industrial action. So far this year, 7,588 employees are reported to have gone on strike, Work Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said in Parliament yesterday, citing Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment data.

The E tū and the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association members were seeking increased pay and resisting cuts to work conditions. The details of the offer won't be made public until they're put to members.

"Industrial action of this nature is always a last resort and so it’s a positive sign that we’ve reached an agreement in principle," E tū said in a statement.

Air New Zealand shares rose 0.7 percent to $3 at the NZX open while the tightly-held TIL Logistics was down 1.3 percent at $1.48.



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