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Port Otago Workers Vote For Industrial Action

Port Otago staff represented by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) and the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) this afternoon voted for an indefinite ban on overtime if talks with management are not successful.

‘Our unions represent more than 250 workers at Port Otago employed by the port in front line roles. They have voted overwhelmingly for an overtime ban in response to Port Otago’s failure to engage on our key claims in collective bargaining,’ said the combined unions’ spokesperson John Kerr.

‘We’ve been in bargaining with Port Otago since May, and the main sticking points are safety and pay,’ he said.

‘Port Otago have rebuffed our attempts to engage with them on the critical risk of fatigue management since the beginning of the year and instead waited until the collective agreement was up for renewal before dropping 170 claims on the table, amongst which were proposals around hours of work that do not fully address the issue of fatigue,’ he said.

‘They suppressed a 2017 report on roster management at the port by internationally renowned expert Philippa Gander that recommended management work cooperatively with the unions and workers, which is precisely what our members are asking for,’ he said.

‘Our members do difficult and potentially dangerous work in all weathers around the clock, they have played, and continue to play a vital role in the success of the regional economy, and they want to work with management on one of the most critical risks to their safety - fatigue. Instead they are being subject to a command and control management style by people who work nine to five, Monday to Friday.’

‘Our members want Port Otago to be productive and profitable and they want be paid fairly and work safely.

We want management to think commercially and pragmatically so we can all get on with doing the good work that helps drive the Otago economy, we’re happy to sit down and thrash out a deal but if that doesn’t happen members have signalled an overtime ban is just the beginning,’ he said.

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