Port unions vow 'full blown' industrial action

Maritime workers think their increases should match that of Port Otago's chief executive Kevin...
Maritime workers think their increases should match that of Port Otago's chief executive Kevin Winders, who banked more than $610,000 last year. Photo: Supplied
Port Otago workers are vowing a "full blown industrial campaign" after a fiery full meeting of its members yesterday in Port Chalmers.

More than 120 workers, represented by the rail and maritime transport union and larger maritime union of New Zealand, attended the meeting, many port workers attending on their day off.

The two unions, representing 250 of the 325 workers at the port, are one week into their "indefinite" ban on overtime on the wharves.

Unions spokesman John Kerr said the workers now wanted to "send a message", which could include rolling industrial action, such as slowdowns by cargo handlers, marine, maintenance and security staff.

He said stumbling blocks to signing a new collective agreement with Port Otago management continued to be the issue of fatigue management and pay.

In respect of the latter, Mr Kerr said the unions now also had a mandate from their members to shelve their original 4% demand and would be seeking 6% across the board, annualised over the next three years.

"The overtime ban is already having an impact and will only get more difficult to turn ships around on time as we get into the busier part of the season," Mr Kerr said yesterday.

He said that given the lack of progress and of a decent percentage offer, the news of increased profitability in the company's annual results this week, had "hardened the resolve of our members to obtain a fair share of the profitability of the port".

"Any success that Port Otago has enjoyed in the past year is ultimately down to rank and file port workers working around the clock in all weather loading and unloading the freight on shipping so as to grow the Otago economy and meet customer needs."

He said, however, that despite three mediated negotiation meetings in the past two weeks "we've made very little progress."

He said it had reached the stage where "we can't even agree what we don't agree on."

Mr Kerr said he didn't see the dispute ending anytime soon unless the dollars are shared among all and not just the "management class".

Port Otago general manager operations Kevin Kearney reiterated that the port "looked forward to concluding an agreement in due course."



Profit up and a 20% pay rise for the CEO. It's pretty hard to argue against a pay rise for workers. Given the council are shareholders, they should be instructing management to give a fairer portion to workers.
The sooner management increases in any organisation are linked to an increase for all workers in that organisation, the sooner we'll start to address the growing rate of inequality.
Keep up the good fight because it's representative of the fight for the majority by the majority against a selfish but powerful minority.