10 Mar 2012

Church leaders offer to mediate in port dispute

7:41 am on 10 March 2012

Church leaders are offering to step in to help Ports of Auckland and sacked workers mediate.

After lengthy industrial action, Ports of Auckland announced on Wednesday it will introduce competitive stevedoring into its Fergusson and Bledisloe Container Terminal operations.

Up to 292 employees, mainly stevedores, will be immediately affected by the decision, it says.

Members of the Maritime Union are halfway through a four-week strike after contract negotiations broke down.

The leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches in Auckland say middle ground has all but disappeared in the dispute.

Anglican Bishop Ross Bay says the parties need to communicate.

"This dispute we don't think is going to be effectively resolved by taking positions of strong litigation.

"The concern that we hold is both for the future of of the waterfront industry in Auckland, but more immediately, for the families and workers that are directly affected by the dispute."

The church leaders are offering to sit down with port bosses and the union to help explore options.