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Lyttelton prepares for strike

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) is expecting strike action over the period 8 - 13 March.


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The Rail and Maritime Union of New Zealand (RMTU) has served LPC with notice of a full labour withdrawal over the period 8 - 13 March, and an overtime ban in the mechanical workshop from 3 to 25 March.

LPC is expecting the over time ban to cause some delays this weekend. On the strike days “LPC will be unable to provide most services to shipping lines and other customers. We regret the disruption RMTU’s industrial action will cause,” the port stated.

The RMTU has issued six separate strike notices, one for each day, which LPC says “has made it difficult for us to provide certainty to our customers regarding the impacts of the strikes and the level of services we can maintain. We have challenged the overlapping notices with the RMTU as we do not believe these comply with the requirements of the Employment Relations Act 2000. We are also reviewing our options for responding to the series of individual strike notices and how we can limit disruption to our Customers”.

LPC and the RMTU are at odds over the port’s request in contract negotiations for changes to shifts and working hours. “We were very disappointed to receive the industrial action notices as we are asking RMTU members to accept small changes most of which have already been embraced by their colleagues in the other major Union at the Port, MUNZ. The changes are necessary so we can continue to improve customer service and remain competitive with other ports,” LPC stated.

During the negotiations the RMTU learned that LPC CEO Peter Davie’s remuneration package is worth NZ$955,000 per year (approximately US$690,000). This has angered the union, which said such a level “cannot be justified and is symptomatic of a broken wage-setting system in New Zealand.”

‘We’re in the middle of negotiations for a port wide collective agreement that covers cargo handlers, marine, maintenance and security staff and this news is slap in the face for those workers,’ said RMTU South Island Organiser John Kerr. How Davie’s remuneration compares with other NZ port CEO’s is not known, but it is well ahead of what most of the Executive Directors and CEO’s at the largest US ports are earning, and more than double CEO-level salaries in Los Angeles, Long Beach New York and the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

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