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South Island trade gateway shut by RMTU strike

South Island trade gateway shut by RMTU strike

LPC is very disappointed that the strike by the Rail and Maritime Union of New Zealand (RMTU) has shut Lyttelton Port which is a vital trade gateway for the South Island.

LPC Operations Manager Paul Monk says if shipping is unable to come in or out of the Port for thirteen days, during the RMTU strikes (13 to 25 March), there will be serious supply shortages.

“We manage more than half the South Island’s container volume, including 70% of imports. Our Port is the lifeblood of the region’s economy. Almost everything the region needs has to come through our Port - for example from jet fuel and diesel to fruit, cement, coffee and cars. We are also the gateway for key exports including meat, dairy, logs, wool and coal.

“The likely impact of the RMTU strike for a fortnight is very concerning when you consider the number of ships that will be diverted from our Port. Our shipping services are a vital link for national and international shipping and there is a record demand for our services.

“Each year more than 450 container vessels and over 500 cargo ships need to access Lyttelton Port. We load and unload more than 400,000 TEUs (20 foot containers) of cargo annually. In the last financial year we managed $4.8 billion in exports and $4.2 billion of imports.

“RMTU’s decision to strike and close the Port for almost a fortnight borders on being irresponsible when the full effects of their members’ industrial action are considered.

“In an effort to prevent the Port closing, and the disruption the strikes will inevitably cause, we have made a very generous offer to RMTU members of a three year term with no change to rosters or conditions, with wage increases of 3% for each of the three years. The RMTU has rejected this offer and insisted that LPC would also need to make significant adjustments to their members’ Public Holiday pay.

“We did everything we could to have ships return to our Port following the short notice withdrawal of strike notices RMTU gave us. We worked very hard with our customers to have more than eight vessels come into the Port between Sunday night and Monday 12 March. However, the RMTU withdrawal of its strike notices came too late to divert most shipping back to the Port. RMTU wants us to pay 54 of its members who were rostered to work on the days it withdrew its strike notices - even though there was no work for them.

“LPC remains committed to resolving the dispute but we cannot accept RMTU’s unreasonable salary increase demands and inflexible position.”

-End-

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