Wednesday 21st Nov, 2018

Strike looms at Lyttelton, shipping to be disrupted

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

THE Rail and Maritime Union of New Zealand (RMTU) has handed Lyttelton Port of Christchurch a notice of industrial action, with the port saying it would be unable to provide most services for six days.

LPC released a statement saying the union would strike on 8 – 13 March, while imposing an overtime ban on workers in the mechanical workshop from 3 – 25 March.

“We are working with shipping lines to ensure their vessels are worked this weekend, when the overtime ban begins, although there will be some delays,” the statement read.

“However, on strike days when there is a full withdrawal of labour LPC will be unable to provide most services to shipping lines and other customers. We regret the disruption RMTU’s industrial action will cause.”

The dispute focuses on changes to work hours that would allow for shifts to be extended, which would allow for ships to be worked more efficiently.

LPC’s statement pointed out that most of the changes LPC was proposing were “embraced” by the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ), which also has members working at the port.

However, RMTU South Island organiser John Kerr told DCN the changes had only been implemented twice in the past year because half the workforce are RMTU and not covered by the MUNZ agreement.

“Moreover, LPC management have admitted across the table in bargaining that the changes may not be compatible with safe fatigue management – incredibly, they don’t have a fatigue management policy,” Mr Kerr said.

“The RMTU will not agree to these changes as we genuinely believe they pose a serious risk to our members’ safety.”

Mr Kerr said LPC had accused RMTU of using safety to progress its industrial agenda.

“This is deeply offensive and inflammatory,” he said.

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