13 Dec 2012

Port fined for hiring contractors during strike

9:58 pm on 13 December 2012

Ports of Auckland has been fined $40,000 for hiring contractors while union members were on strike.

The Maritime Union and the company have been embroiled in industrial action for more than a year, which has included strikes, lockouts and court action due to disagreement over a collective contract.

The Employment Relations Authority has fined the company for allowing four contractors to do engineering work usually carried out by employees who were on strike in February and March this year.

A union member took photos while he was on the picket line of two men doing work usually done by union members.

The union's lawyers sent a letter to the ports company about the photos and soon after containers were stacked around the perimeter which obscured vision of work happening at the ports.

Maritime Union president Garry Parsloe said the authority found the breach of the Employment Relations Act was deliberate and serious. "I just hope that now can be the catalyst to move us forward and get a collective."

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly says it is very unusual for the Employment Relations Authority to fine a company for hiring contractors to do union members' work and the nature of the offending makes it very serious.

The Auckland Council owns the ports and mayor Len Brown says he hopes the parties can put the fine behind them and look forward to reaching a collective agreement.

Ports of Auckland says it is disappointed with the outcome and it was simply focused on keeping the port running during the strikes. The company has yet to decide whether it will appeal.