RMTU members do difficult work in all weathers around the clock

RMTU members do difficult work in all weathers around the clock

by Edna Welthorpe

Two hundreds workers belonging to the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) at Lyttelton have voted to take action against the Port Company following an unsatisfactory offer by the company in recent contract negotiations. From December 17, they’ll be ceasing overtime work indefinitely. They have also voted for a series of full stoppages if the company doesn’t amend its position.

RMTU organiser John Kerr says the offer made by the company during bargaining was insufficient for the workers to want to accept it, especially given Port company boss Peter Davies’ 18% salary increase and what Kerr describes as “the appalling health and safety record at the port in the past twelve months”. Three workers have been killed in industrial accidents there since late 2013.

The RMTU is also trying to get whatever contract they achieve extended to cargo handlers in the Christchurch suburb of Woolston (for readers outside NZ, Lyttelton is the port that serves Christchurch and is separated from the city by hills). These workers are paid $6 an hour less than RMTU members working on the wharves.

Mediation has been set down for December 11, so it’ll be interesting to see if the council-owned port company increases its offer or whether the dispute will escalate.

Meantime, Christchurch’s Labour mayor Lianne Dalziel is reported in the Christchurch Press (Dec 3) as saying she sees no problem with inviting a “strategic partner” to buy a stake in the company.  Not that selling part of such companies matters when they are already profit-driven anyway, but it shows how Labour politicians who rail against such sales in opposition have no problem with them when in power.

See our earlier article: Ructions at Lyttelton Port

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