Ports of Auckland has cancelled the lockout that was due to start next month.
The cancellation is on the basis that the parties return to the bargaining table, and then use the facilitation process set out in the Employment Relations Act.
Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson says the company is acutely aware that its customers and all those in the supply chain are severely affected by this dispute and in order to lift pressure on the supply chain it is lifting the lockout to get goods moving.
Ports lawyer John Haig QC said "for the benefit of both parties" the port has agreed to the following:
- The current "health and safety" lockout is now lifted by Ports of Auckland
- The lockout notice for April 6 is lifted by Ports of Auckland
- The port has said workers will be returned to work as soon as possible, and no later than April 6.
- Union workers will be paid from today until April 6 (that's on top of the earlier decision to pay them from last Thursday to today).
- The port will take all reasonable steps to get the Maersk Southern Star service returned to Auckland (it lost the contract to Tauranga)
- Parties will return to negotiating a new collective employment agreement through mediation and facilitation sessions.
"Ports workers are very pleased that their employment negotiations are back on track," said Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe.
"This comes as a great relief for our members and their families, who now no longer have the threat of an indefinite lockout hanging over them."
"Our members knew they had a strong case. Ports of Auckland's decision today to lift the lockout and get back around the table indicates a significant change of approach, which is welcome."
Garry Parsloe said the wharfies wanted to acknowledge the support from their families at a stressful and difficult time, and the support from the wider public of Auckland over recent weeks.
"The Ports are one of the most important assets Aucklanders own. Their Ports have always been productive and can be more so, and we are committed to delivering for the public an effective and even more successful Ports of Auckland."
Garry Parsloe said the union has always been willing to complete bargaining for a collective agreement, and looked forward to getting talks back on as soon as possible.
Comments by the Ports CEO Tony Gibson today indicating a desire to bring back contracting out proposals at a later date, made just moments after a commitment to return to negotiate a collective agreement, were inflammatory and not helpful.
Mr Gibson's comments are in conflict with understandings reached earlier today and are a matter of grave concern, Garry Parsloe said.