Maritime Union Of Australia (MUA) National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has welcomed news that Ports of Auckland has withdrawn its lockout notice and the unionized workforce can now go back to work.
Mr Crumlin, who met with the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown this morning as both a representative of the MUA and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), hailed today's developments as a victory for all workers.
Mr Crumlin attended a rally yesterday at the entrance to the port, along with ITF Dockers Section Secretary Frank Leys, MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood MUNZ president Garry Parsloe and NZCTU President Helen Kelly.
"This is a victory for common sense," said Mr Crumlin, who is chair of the ITF Dockers Section and ITF President.
"It reinforces the fact that these 1998 Patrick-style assaults on workers' rights and organised labour won't be successful.
"It reminds everyone in the stevedoring and maritime industry that the only way forward is to negotiate in good faith for a collective agreement.
"Dockworkers of the world unite in a crisis and they won't allow this sort of behaviour from militant employers to prevail."
During a court hearing in Auckland this morning, the Port agreed to a change of position. The substantive elements of agreement are:
1. The current "unlawful" lockout is now lifted. All workers will continue to be paid until a return to work no later than 6 April.
2. The lockout notice given for an indefinite lockout beginning on 6 April has been withdrawn
3. The redundancies resulting from the loss of the Maersk line will continue to be negotiated according to the collective agreement
4. Bargaining will resume next week.
"The war isn't yet won but today's developments are a victory for international solidarity and all of those who are working tirelessly for a decent outcome in this dispute," Mr Crumlin said.
"It's a victory for the workers who have refused to cave in to the unscrupulous plans from POAL management to lockout the workforce and contract out labour on the ports.
"It's a victory for MUNZ, the MUA and dockworkers around the world who have refused to bow to POAL's demands and the ITF who have kept a close watch on this dispute."
Negotiators will now enter into bargaining and seek a fair and sustainable collective agreement that protects Port workers from any hidden plans management may have to try to contract out jobs in the future.
"I met with the mayor of Auckland and unashamedly raised the fact that I believe that POAL's chairman and CEO are not fit to continue to head a board that is as seriously split over their tactics," Mr Crumlin said.
"And the Council it reports to also needs to be held to account for the commercial, industrial, political and human damage their actions have incurred."