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A fair way through to a long-term solution

Monday, 30 April 2001 Media Statement

A fair way through to a long-term solution

The Minister of Labour, Margaret Wilson, welcomed the Mediator's report on the South Island Port Dispute.

"The recommendations appear to provide a fair way through to a long term solution.

"The report calls for early mediation to be arranged so that injunction proceedings and pickets can be withdrawn at the same time. This is a matter for the parties, but I endorse the efforts of the Mediator to achieve this.

"Essentially, the Report recommends discussion to put in place a competitive contracting process and a cross-hiring arrangement that is similar to such arrangements in North Island Ports. In other words, it recommends that similar arrangements that apply in the North Island will also apply in the South Island".

Margaret Wilson also noted the recommendation that the Government inquire into the social impact of the Ports Reforms. She said that she would discuss this further with her colleagues.

"Whether such an inquiry is necessary will to some extent depend on the success of the negotiations between the parties.

"There can be no suggestion of a return to the practices of the past. It is vital that New Zealand Ports retain their competitiveness. It is the present disruption on the waterfront that threatens that competitiveness which the Government is trying to resolve.

"I believe all parties have worked hard towards a settlement as a part of the mediation process.

"Legal action by any of the parties involved or a continuation of protest action are equally unlikely to end the grievances at the heart of the argument. The dispute has continued with some intensity for many months. It can only end as a result of recognising the legitimate interests of all parties who contribute to a competitive waterfront environment.

"I congratulate Walter Grills on the achievements made in mediation to this point, and hope the parties will seek further progress. In mediation the real situation has been clarified, and there is substantial agreement on the facts. It's over to the parties to take advantage of the work they have already done, and bring about a final conclusion to a difficult and protracted dispute".

ENDS

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