ITF President Flies In For Crisis Talks On Ports Of Auckland

International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin is in Auckland today for crisis talks about the future of Ports of Auckland Limited.

Mr Crumlin, who is meeting with 300 members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand locked out by port management on the picket line as well as Auckland Mayor Len Brown, said the people of Auckland deserved better than the current lockout.

Auckland port workers this week won a court injunction against having their jobs contracted out until mid-May.

Ports of Auckland Limited has since undertaken to pay eight days' wages to permanent staff who voted last Thursday to end a four-week strike.

"Today marks the first day for five weeks that workers will get a pay packet in their hand. But there is still no guarantee that the unionised workforce will be allowed back onto the wharves, with a company-imposed lockout still in place," Mr Crumlin said.

"Ports of Auckland management is clearly running the port into the ground through their flawed industrial strategy and it is only because the court forced them into action that workers are being paid today.

"The ITF is dismayed at the treatment of the 300 workers by the Board and management of Ports of Auckland Limited, which is an enterprise held in trust for the people of Auckland by the Mayor and his Council.

"The ITF firmly believes that the Ports of Auckland Limited board - Chairman Richard Pearson and CEO Tony Gibson in particular - has a lot to answer for.

"The whole world is watching the Auckland dispute, which is already affecting the maritime community and has serious ramifications for world trade.

"That's why I'm here, meeting with the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, the Mayor of Auckland, concerned community groups and workers on the front line.

"It's imperative to to try to insert some common sense into the debate with the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown and POAL management. The ratepayers of Auckland are demanding answers to this situation from Len Brown.

"It appears that Ports of Auckland management never intended to negotiate in good faith. To go even further and lock the gates of the port when workers are legally entitled to return to their jobs is morally reprehensible, if not illegal. Board members must be held accountable for this.

"The Mayor needs to find a way to replace the Board with a group who will run the port for the benefit of Auckland residents and New Zealand citizens."

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is the global union body that represents around five million workers in transport around the world.