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Labour party pressure in waterfront mediation

Lockwood Smith National Industrial Relations Spokesperson

9 April 2001

Labour party pressure in waterfront mediation

Labour Party political pressure is evident in the government-appointed mediator's handling of the waterfront mediation, National's Industrial Relations Spokesperson Lockwood Smith said today.

"The mediator has favoured the Waterfront Workers Union, which is affiliated to the Labour Party, while attempting to shut out of mediation talks the Amalgamated Stevedores Union, which is not affiliated to the Labour Party.

"The Waterfront Workers Union made it clear in its January newsletter that it is more than just friends with Labour saying 'the Auckland Branch has paid its affiliation fees to the Labour Party to participate in the benefits from affiliation'.

"The mediators report found the Waterfront Workers' Union had misrepresented the four issues it claimed were at the heart of the dispute; of out of town labour, casualisation the workforce, undercutting and undermining existing conditions of employment.

But the mediator's proposed solution requires the employer, Mainland Stevedoring, to effectively give preference in employing additional casual workers to members of the Waterfront Workers Union, favouring it over the Amalgamated Stevedores' Union.

"Suspicion must fall on what pressure Labour Ministers directly or indirectly have placed on the mediator given this astonishing proposal from him. Government MPs wading into the dispute by supporting the Waterfront Workers Union on the picket line must have had some affect.

"The mediator claims the dispute has nothing to do with the new Employment Relations Act. But the Waterfront Workers' Union contradicts that in its January newsletter where it states 'the arrival of yellow unions legitimised by the new Act is not helpful, as is graphically illustrated by Amalgamated Stevedores' Union'.

"The mediator is obviously trying to avoid offending the Government over it's new legislation. Since the mediator found against all four union claims that should be the end of the matter and the end of the dispute," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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