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Wharfies' strike action signals return to the past

Lockwood Smith National Industrial Relations Spokesperson

27 September 2001

Wharfies' strike action signals return to the past

Today's strike action by the Waterfront Workers' Union in Auckland signals a return to archaic work practices which will damage New Zealand's international standing as a reliable trader, says National's Industrial Relations spokesperson, Lockwood Smith.

It is estimated $150 million worth of goods are being held up by the industrial action.

"When we have the WWU demanding that each wharf be ring-fenced so only people employed on that particular wharf can work there, we're talking demarcation issues which have resulted in serious inefficiencies in the past.

"It's time the Government took a long, hard look at the harm its industrial relations legislation is doing to our businesses, especially when the world is facing serious conflict and economic recession.

"The Government's failure to manage the Air New Zealand fiasco has already seen our image damaged across the Tasman and now we have the country's largest port blocking seagoing trade.

"National warned the Government to expect growing disruption over its employment law changes. Eight work stoppages in the first quarter of this year, well over 20 in the second quarter, and further escalating disruption shows just how restless the country's workforce is becoming.

"At the Ports of Auckland, stevedores' pay averages between $65,000 to $75,000 a year. Using old-style union tactics to lever not just 5.5 percent more pay, but also old-style restrictive practices such as featherbedding and demarcation out of the employer, shows the problems created by the excessive power the Government's employment law has bestowed on unions," said Dr Smith.

Ends


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