21 Mar 2012

Ports of Auckland re-enters collective bargaining

9:31 pm on 21 March 2012

There has been another twist in the long-running Ports of Auckland dispute: the port company has agreed to go back into mediation with the Maritime Union.

Earlier this month, after the breakdown of collective bargaining talks and a series of strikes, the company announced it would make 292 union members redundant and contract their work out.

But that is on hold for four weeks now, following an Employment Court telephone conference.

The president of the Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly, says the company is clearly nervous about its redundancy plan.

"Obviously the port has considered its legal position; last week there was no turning back, next minute we're turning back and we're into bargaining, which suggests they've had a reversal of their view that what they were undertaking was lawful."

The Employment Court held a hearing on Monday into the dispute.

That put a stay on the 292 redundancies that the ports company had announced.

Asked about the latest development, the chair of port company's board, Richard Pearson said the company is abiding by the initial conditions imposed by the Employment Court.

Mr Pearson says the judge in the Employment Court encouraged the company to go back to mediation.

He denies that it is a U-turn by the company.