23 Feb 2012

Auckland port strike extended to three weeks

8:26 pm on 23 February 2012

The Maritime Union has extended a strike due to begin on Friday at New Zealand's biggest container port from two to three weeks.

Talks on a new collective contract for 300 union members at Ports of Auckland have broken down and the union says workers have nothing to lose by taking the action.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly on Thursday appealed for intervention by the Auckland Council, which owns Ports of Auckland.

Ms Kelly says it is the council's requirement for the port to deliver a 12% return on its investment and that is driving the push to lower costs.

The Maritime Union says it has offered more flexible rostering arrangements in its bid to re-negotiate the collective agreement, but Ports of Auckland says more flexible practices are needed.

The company says in the first week of the strike, six out off 11 container ships scheduled to visit will be able to be handled using non-union labour and it plans to divert the other five ships.