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Port to introduce competitive stevedoring

Wednesday 7 March 2012, 10:51AM

By Ports of Auckland Limited

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AUCKLAND

Ports of Auckland has today decided to introduce competitive stevedoring into its Fergusson and Bledisloe Container Terminal operations.

This announcement comes after an extensive eight-week consultation and evaluation process. This produced a compelling business case showing that competitive stevedoring could enable Auckland to become New Zealand’s best-performing port, and a leader in the Asia-Pacific region over a short period.

Port CEO Tony Gibson said the decision to bring the Port’s stevedoring operations in line with global industry best practice would be welcome news for Aucklanders as well as customers.

“We’ve weighed up all the options and we believe this is the best decision for the future of the Port. Auckland enjoys significant natural advantages, including its proximity to New Zealand’s largest market, where 60% of exports, and 70% of import business takes place. Until now we have been constrained by practices which have reduced the Port’s competitiveness, and in recent months industrial action, which has lost us significant business.

Ports of Auckland Chairman Richard Pearson said that the Board’s first priority is to win-back lost business, retain current clients and put the Port on a pathway to success.

“This decision will reassure the wider market and customers that we plan to achieve a sustainable lift in the Port’s competitiveness as soon as possible, Mr Pearson says.

“We have our sights set high. Our ultimate goal is to become not just New Zealand’s most efficient and productive container port, but a leader in the Asia Pacific region.

“I’ve had 35 years’ experience working in Ports, and I’m optimistic that along with improved technologies, and better co-ordination across the New Zealand supply chain this shift to competitive stevedoring, will facilitate this,” Mr Pearson said.

The Port will appoint three different companies to supply stevedoring services at the Port.

The Port expects current operating capacity to increase, and with a continuous improvement programme in place, it expects to become a best-practice port in the Asia-Pacific region over the next few years.

Ports of Auckland will retain the benefit from improved workplace operations and planning functions, leading to better health and safety practice.

Up to 292 employees, mainly stevedores, will be immediately affected by the decision. Mr Gibson says that stevedoring staff will be encouraged to apply for new positions with the stevedoring companies.

Mr Gibson acknowledged the affect this decision will have on staff and their families, and confirmed that a process of consultation will begin later this week on redundancies at the Port.

“This decision has not been made lightly, but we believe it is vital to ensuring a successful and sustainable future for the Port, including protecting jobs over the long term,” he said.