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Biased Mediation Should Be Dropped

The Government should stop undermining the legal rights of New Zealand businesses to contract out work, National's Industrial Relations spokesman Lockwood Smith said today in response to the mediator's final report on the South Island ports dispute.

"Margaret Wilson today admitted on radio that Carer Holt Harvey and Mainland Stevedoring are not breaking any law. If that's the case then they shouldn't have to agree to a cross-hire agreement forcing them to employ workers from competing companies. Dr Smith said the mediation process should be dropped because it had become politicised. "By supporting the mediator's recommendations the Government is undermining Carter Holt's legal rights to contract with any business it choses and the rights of Mainland Stevedoring to employ staff without intimidation from the Waterfront Workers Union. It's ridiculous to say Mainland should start negotiations with its main competition Stevedoring Services Ltd of Nelson.

"Mediation established that the Waterfront Workers Union's claims were either incorrect or partially incorrect, so that should be the end of the matter.

"Instead mediator Walter Grills' final report reads like a Waterfront Workers Union wish list. And his report favours a union which pays fees to the Labour Party.

"Margaret Wilson is today trying to distance the Government from the dispute saying it is up to the parties to resolve the issue. This contrasts with its continued intervention which included it sending Government MPs to support picket lines at Nelson.

"I await with interest the High Court's finding on this dispute. However a company shouldn't be forced to go to those lengths to be able to go about its legal business," Dr Smith said.

Ends


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