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Govt must act over disgraceful union tactics

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

Max Bradford National Industrial Relations Spokesman

22 January 2001

Govt must act over disgraceful union tactics

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley today called on the Prime Minister to ensure the Government enforces its own Employment Relations Act.

"The Government is jeopardising our international reputation and the livelihood of our exporters. The Prime Minister must make it clear that no New Zealand export company will have its business jeopardised when its operating consistent with the Employment Relations Act passed by the Labour-Alliance Government last year."

Jenny Shipley and National's Industrial Relations Spokesman Max Bradford have written to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour, urging them to stop sitting on their hands over the worsening waterfront dispute.

Mrs Shipley's letter to Prime Minister Helen Clark says the situation is clear. "Mainland Stevedoring's employees belong to the Amalgamated Stevedores Union which is registered as a union under the Employment Relations Act 2000. The Waterfront Workers Union is seeking to maintain its monopoly control over waterfront terms and conditions in certain South Island ports by seeking to exclude the Amalgamated Stevedores Union."

"(This) is an intolerable affront to the freedom of choice workers and businesses have every right to expect to enjoy in New Zealand," Mrs Shipley said.

Unless the Government takes action to help resolve this dispute it has the potential to seriously damage our economy and international reputation, Mrs Shipley warns.

"I call on you to take action to resolve this dispute and uphold the right of any business to engage the services of any company or person of their choice rather than being required to observe local monopolies," Mrs Shipley said in her letter to the Prime Minister.

Max Bradford has written to the Minister of Labour, Margaret Wilson, asking her to take action. "It is intolerable for the Waterfront Workers Union to seek to maintain local monopolies for itself by attacking the right of workers, who belong to another union, to work at South Island ports, or the right of exporters to engage the services of a company that employs them."

Mr Bradford says if the Government fails to address the situation then it is "permitting the attitudes of a bygone and ugly age of industrial relations to return."

Max Bradford notes that his previous calls for Ms Wilson to act to resolve the dispute have fallen on deaf ears. "I am advised that there has been only one attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation. That occurred several months ago and failed because the Waterfront Workers Union did not turn up to the mediation hearing."

"You must take action to resolve this dispute and put an end to the outrageous situation that has arisen," Mr Bradford's letter to Margaret Wilson says.

"It is supreme irony that the waterfront workers are taking this action with the full support of the CTU, and increasingly international unions, virtually on the day of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 waterfront strike.

"Are we simply going to see the return of those days aided by a Government which is determined to sit on its hands and deny members of a new union, registered under its own legislation, the right to work?" Mr Bradford said.


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