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Ports Dispute Report Will Send Shiver Down Spine

Ports Dispute Report Will Send Shiver Down Spine Of NZ Employers And Exporters

Nelson MP Nick Smith today leaked the Government mediator's report into the protracted South Island port dispute saying it would cause widespread alarm amongst employers and exporters.

"This report rejects all four of the Waterfront Workers Union claims on local labour, casualisation, cheap labour and safety. However, the compromise proposal that Mainland Stevedoring must give job preference to staff of opposition firms, and negotiate a cross-hire employment agreement with these firms is a dangerous precedent that will send a shiver down the spine of exporters and employers.

The mediator was appointed by Labour Minister Margaret Wilson in January to try to resolve the disruption at South Island ports. The dispute arose in December when Carter Holt Harvey contracted Mainland Stevedoring rather than Stevedoring Services Ltd to load log ships.

"This report is a real worry for employers because it has the Government interfering in who they employ. It is bizarre that a company which wins work from its competition is then required to give the competitor's staff preference for jobs. This precedent on the waterfront will have huge implications for the building, manufacturing, services and hospitality industries.

"The danger for exporters in this report is that it is a step back towards a closed shop on New Zealand's waterfront. The irony is that we have a New Zealand company applying new technology to loading ships, winning a contract off a foreign multinational and then getting kicked in the guts for it.

"The most dangerous signal this mediation sends to employers and employees is that if you protest loud enough and cause enough trouble, you will get preferential treatment.

"The report was promised over five weeks ago and the Minister had cynically intended to release it on the eve of Easter as she did last year on the Employment Contracts Act documents to minimise media coverage. I have released this report because I believe the New Zealand public need to know the facts so the disruption in South Island ports can be brought to an end," Dr Smith said.


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