6 Mar 2012

Judge rules CentrePort union members back to work

10:43 pm on 6 March 2012

Wellington port staff must work on a container ship they blacklisted after non-union staff worked on it at Ports of Auckland, a judge has ruled.

CentrePort sought an injunction against the Maritime Union and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union in the Employment Court on Tuesday.

Union members refused to unload the container ship Maersk Aberdeen at the weekend that had been loaded by non-unionised Ports of Auckland workers.

The union workers cited health and safety reasons in crossing a picket line organised in support of the ongoing Auckland industrial dispute.

Judge Anthony Ford ruled on Tuesday that the unions must not tell their members they should not work on Maersk Aberdeen or any other vessel on grounds related to the Ports of Auckland dispute.

He agreed with CentrePort's lawyer that in blacklisting the Maersk Aberdeen, workers had damaged the port's reputation.

The judge also ordered that CentrePort and the unions start negotiations about the unlawful strike.

Earlier, CentrePort's lawyer Michael Quigg told the court the union's concerns were not genuine as there was no chance of violence from those on the picket line.

The lawyer representing the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, Geoff Davenport, said the port company had made no attempt to enter into mediation and court action should have been a last resort.