6 Jan 2012

Hands-off policy over port

2:35 pm on 6 January 2012

The Government and Auckland Council do not plan to intervene in the dispute at the Ports of Auckland, despite the port losing millions of dollars in business in the past month.

The latest blow came when Fonterra announced it will stop using the port at the end of January.

Last month, Maersk Shipping announced it was moving its $20 million business to Tauranga.

Both said their decision was based, in part, on an ongoing industrial dispute in Auckland.

The Maritime Union is planning more strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The port is owned by Auckland Council Investments which says it has no intention of intervening.

The Economic Development Minister's office says the Government will not step in unless it is asked to.

Ports of Auckland says it's put its best offer on the table, which includes a wage rise of 10% plus performance bonuses and control over rostering.

Maritime Union president Garry Parsloe told Summer Report that the offer casualises its members' jobs.

He said they should not have to wait by the phone to find out whether they have work. The union will table a counter-offer on Friday.

Port chief executive Tony Gibson told Summer Report that customers are telling the company it needs to change and there needs to be a modern collective agreement.

He said the union does not seem to understand the need for change.


Manufacturers and Exporters Association chief executive John Walley says people are getting sick of constant hold-ups resulting from the dispute.

Business analyst Brian Gaynor says the port has been losing its customers for more than a decade, because the port has had management and labour problems since the mid-1990s.

He says Fonterra's decision was ''another nail in the coffin'' and Ports of Auckland could be on a fatal spiral.