Ports of Auckland plans to approach at least three outside stevedore contractors this week in a bid to break an 11-month impasse with its own workers, whose strikes have been blamed for the loss of major customers.
“Change has got to happen,” chief executive Tony Gibson told BusinessDesk. “We have a business to run and clients to keep happy.”
Negotiations between Ports of Auckland and the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) have stalled over the company’s plan to introduce flexible rosters that the union says will lead to a casualised workforce and loss of guaranteed hours for full-time staff.
By sharing the stevedoring work among several firms, the port would encourage competition, driving down costs and lifting productivity, Gibson says. That change would also see Ports of Auckland move closer to the model used by arch-rival Port of Tauranga, the biggest beneficiary of Auckland’s loss of business.
Through their intransigence and patch protection, ironically, the Maritime union has overseen the destruction of their 300 strong workforce. It is now likely that those workers will be splintered amongst contractors, if anyone will have them.