21 Feb 2013

Parties in port dispute to return to mediation

2:46 pm on 21 February 2013

Ports of Auckland and the Maritime Union have agreed to head back into mediation to negotiate a new collective contract, bringing their protracted industrial dispute a step closer to being settled.

The parties met on Wednesday night with court-appointed facilitator Alastair Dumbleton for the first time since he released a list of recommendations in January this year after nine months of mediation.

The port company and the union both accepted the recommendations, with the union saying it wanted some details clarified by the company and facilitator before agreeing to any collective contract.

The Ports of Auckland indicated in January that, while they are not entirely happy with the recommendations, they are willing to accept them.

The recommendations have not been made public.

Union president Garry Parsloe said Wednesday's meeting with the facilitator worked on clarifying the recommendations and the parties now know where they stand.

Mr Parsloe said he is confident the dispute will be settled this time.

Despite this, Mr Parsloe said, he cannot guarantee a harmonious work culture. He said the port has a history of being antagonistic to its workers and should put that behind it.

Talks on a collective contract broke down in 2011, leading to strikes, lock-out notices, court action and threats of redundancies.