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Akld port to halt contracting for a month

20:34 Wed Mar 21 2012

Ports of Auckland has put plans to contract out the jobs of almost 300 workers on hold for a month while mediation continues with the Maritime Union.

But port bosses say they have not abandoned their position on contracting out the jobs of 292 striking workers who were made redundant a fortnight ago.

A statement from the port confirmed mediation will resume with the union but says although a collection agreement will be on the table talks will also include a discussion on striking workers applying for positions with contracting companies.

The comments follow a minute from the Employment Court released on Wednesday which said: "The defendant will take no further steps to implement the proposal to make the plaintiff's members redundant."

The minute says the parties have agreed to continuing bargaining under the auspices of the Mediation Service.

The port will not dismiss the workers or employ Drake Personnel Ltd or Allied Workforce Ltd, or anyone else to do the work of striking employees.

Maritime Union president Garry Parsloe says workers can safely return to work on the terms and conditions of their collective agreement and concentrate on collective bargaining.

"The fact the port has taken this path today is a clear indication they are nervous about potential court action and realise that the path they have put all their efforts into, including the absolutely unprincipled decision to dismiss the workforce and employ contract labour is not viable," he said.

However, port adviser Brent Impey told Fairfax there had been no proposal for a return to work.

Port chief executive Tony Gibson announced two weeks ago that 292 striking workers had been made redundant and their roles would be contracted out.

The Maritime Union sought an urgent interim injunction to stop the redundancies.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly called for an immediate inquiry into "how this whole mess occurred".