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Industrial Action Imminent at Lyttelton Port

Industrial Action Imminent at Lyttelton Port as Mediation Fails

The failure of mediation today between the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) and Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) management means that industrial action is imminent at Lyttelton port.

‘Our members who work as Logistics Officers at LPC have been negotiating for a pay increase since before Christmas, and today their patience ran out. From Friday they will commence industrial action that will result in delays and backlogs building up at the port,’ said RMTU South Island Organiser John Kerr.

‘These workers plan the loading and unloading of ships and communicate this information to cargo handlers and other staff responsible for working the vessels. They do this under tight time pressure, often dealing with changing and competing demands and information. It’s a round the clock job that is highly skilled. Although there are only eleven of them they are vital to the operation of the port. In short, if there are no logistics officers, there is in large part no port operation. From Friday Logistics officers will cease to work between 2300 and 0700 and observe all entitlements to breaks: that will very quickly have an impact on port operations,’ he said.

‘The sticking point in the talks is pay, although ironically money doesn’t seem to be the issue as it would cost LPC only around $10000 to settle this dispute,’ he said.

“Our members are claiming a 4% increase over 12 months, management have offered 2.85%. Given that a 1% increase only costs a total of about $10000 for all these workers combined and given that LPC made nearly $17m profit after tax in the last financial year we’re struggling to see what their problem is,’ he said.

‘Management want to discuss productivity and we’ve said we’re happy to do that. Our union has an established track record of successfully working through issues like that with employers. In fact, it was our union who raised issues around succession planning, training and staffing on the first day of negotiations,’ he said.

‘Management have also said they don’t want to set a precedent for negotiations for a wider collective agreement that covers over 400 port workers at LPC which are due to commence in July. We find that difficult to understand given LPC has already set a precedent for generous pay settlements by awarding its CEO, Peter Davie, $2.07m over the past two financial years,’ he said.

‘Our question is why is it that trickle-down theory only seems to extend to senior managers and not the highly skilled workers who are vital to the generation of the profits LPC has achieved?’

‘These workers are critical to the success of Lyttelton Port and Lyttelton Port is critical to the success of the economy of Canterbury and everything that goes with it; it’s time LPC saw sense ,’ he said.


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