12 Mar 2012

Port workers prevented from getting to ship

10:53 pm on 12 March 2012

Striking Ports of Auckland workers were causing some disruption at the waterfront on Monday and the company is accusing them of intimidating contracted staff.

About 300 Maritime Union members were made redundant by Ports of Auckland last Wednesday as the company moves to replace wharf workers with outside contractors.

The move comes after an eight-month industrial dispute and up to 292 employees, mainly stevedores, will be made redundant

Union members say they tried to stop wharf workers at Wynyard Quarter from accessing a boat used to help cruise ships arriving in Auckland on Monday morning.

One picketer, Vinnie Clark, says they did not deliberately delay the cruise liner Ocean Princess, which arrived about an hour late at Princes Wharf.

"The linesman came and we explained to them that we've got a hard picket on and they said no, we will not cross it."

The sacked workers are picketing outside main wharves along the waterfront, including Princes, Queens and Captain Cook, as well as the Fergusson Terminal.

Ports of Auckland is accusing those picketers of intimidating lawful workers and calling them scabs. However, police say they have officers present and there have been no incidents.

Ken Ziegler, who is picketing outside Captain Cook Wharf, says they have been told by the Maritime Union not to stop any contractors from entering.

Counselling offered

Ports of Auckland says it has received a number of complaints from staff accusing the striking workers of verbally abusing them.

It released a statement from a staff member on Monday who says she was stopped from getting to the Fergusson Terminal, felt intimidated and was worried for her safety.

The company says it is offering counselling to staff.

Restaurant lodges complaint

A restaurant has lodged a complaint with Auckland Council over striking Ports of Auckland workers.

Mikano, which is next to the main entrance of the ports container terminal, says the situation on the picketline has escalated.

Owner John Gosney says one of his staff members, as well as customers and suppliers, felt uncomfortable.

He says the striking workers blocked the path of one of his staff members and banged on her car.