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Application For Facilitation To Be Lodged Early This Week

An application to the Employment Relations Authority to start facilitation between Ports of Auckland and the Maritime Union will be filed early this week.

Ports of Auckland sought the move to urgent facilitation after the company’s 10th offer since negations began last September was rejected in mediation last week.

The offer includes a 10% pay increase, with full-time employees having 160 hours of guaranteed work in each 4-week cycle. Further performance bonuses of up to 10% are also included in the package.

A review by Ernst & Young confirmed that in 2011, the average remuneration for full time stevedores was $91,000 and $65,000 for part time stevedores.

Ports of Auckland CEO, Tony Gibson says the company shares the concerns of the business community, reflected in the Chamber of Commerce survey, at the delays in being able to introduce modern, efficient work practices at the Port. “Chamber of Commerce CEO, Michael Barnett is right, businesses need the Port to make these changes and we are hopeful that through facilitation we can find agreement.”

“It’s understandable that there would be a loss of confidence through a process that is complex and litigious and results in lengthy delays. However, that is the nature of the process businesses sometimes face under employment law when they need to make changes to their business.”

Mr Gibson said the real issue is the lack of flexibility, which results in an excessive amount of paid downtime at the port. This means that for every 40 hours paid, Ports of Auckland’s stevedores are only working 26. This downtime costs POAL over $8 million per annum.

“Work practices at the Container Terminal must be customer focussed, flexible and modern.”

He said the company was already seeing the productivity improvements possible through simple changes agreed with stevedores working on Individual Employment Agreements such as moving to 12-hour shifts to service ships and more efficient change-overs between machine drivers.

Facilitation is a formal process, convened by the Employment Relations Authority. The Authority Member listens to both parties, and can then make non-binding recommendations about what the terms of the collective should be, or what the parties should do to reach agreement.