10 Mar 2012

3000 rally in Auckland to support dock workers

8:56 pm on 10 March 2012

About three thousand people attended a rally on Saturday afternoon supporting dock workers at Ports of Auckland who are to be made redundant and replaced with contractors.

Port workers, trade unionists, politicians and members of the public marched several kilometres demanding the workers' jobs be saved.

The marchers passed by the almost idle Ports of Auckland where members of the Maritime Union are striking over the collapse of contract talks.

Ports of Auckland this week announced it would replace nearly three hundred employed dockers with contract staff.

Auckland's mayor Len Brown and the Council were also targets of the marchers.

The council owns the port and has distanced itself from the dispute.

At a rally after the march president of the Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly, said Auckland Council must get involved and ease its demands for the port company to pay it a bigger dividend.

Ms Kelly said the council's greed is ruining its own infrastrcuture.

President of the Maritime Union Gary Parsloe told the crowd that in addition to a legal challenge to the redundancies later this month, public support was vital.

Ports of Auckland says bringing in contractors will be more efficient and flexible than agreeing with what the union is seeking.

Organisers appeared encouraged by the turnout and said they are hoping the public pressure will persuade port owner Auckland City Council to intervene and get employment talks back on track.

Two recruitment companies already signed up

Ports of Auckland has already signed two companies to take over recruitment of stevedores to work at its container terminal.

The union members have been on strike for two weeks, following the break down of talks on a new collective agreement.

Union President Gary Parsloe said the battle to save union jobs has only just begun.