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Port workers hope action will make port company see sense

Lyttelton port workers hope impending industrial action will make port company see sense

Workers at Lyttelton Port have given notice of a second 24-hour strike to be held on 10 March, meaning the port will be shut down for two consecutive days.

“Our people want to get this dispute settled. We’ve been talking with LPC since July last year with no outcome, and workers hope the strike notice will focus managers’ minds on reaching a solution,” says John Kerr, organiser for the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

“We also want Christchurch City Council, as the owner of the port, to assist with resolving this dispute.

“The main sticking point is safety. Management want to change hours of work for cargo handlers, we want them to ensure that the people operating heavy machinery in a dangerous environment can do their jobs safely.

“Fatigue is a serious hazard and the port company have admitted as much - yet they persist in pressing for changes that may make matters worse.”

Lyttelton Port Company has no policy for managing fatigue. The port’s negotiation team is insisting on changes before a joint working group between the employer, the workers and Massey University has given its recommendations.

“Management are trying to mislead the public about our members’ claims,” says John Kerr. “They’ve asked for a nominal increase of 4% and 12 months to settle the bargaining so everyone can devote their time and energy to working cooperatively and constructively on the fatigue issue. That’s completely reasonable given the port’s profitability and the salaries of senior executives.

“Instead of preparing for strike action we’d much rather be working on making the port a safer and more productive business,” he said. “Hopefully LPC feels the same way.”


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