The announcement that Mediterranean Shipping Lines (MSL) and Prime Port in Timaru have agreed that the shipping line will use the port and this will reduce the number of laid off staff is welcomed by the union representing the workers.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) General Secretary Wayne Butson said the eleventh hour announcement to staff means that around 20 jobs will remain at the port and, whilst that still means a significant number will be lost, it is something that should be welcomed.
‘Throughout this process we’ve said our argument has not been with Prime Port but rather with a Government that refuses to step in and amend the Commerce Act as part of a national ports strategy so New Zealand ports are not at the mercy of overseas owned shipping lines,’ he said.
‘Prime Port has managed to get some business and save some jobs and good on them for doing that. There are still around 30 jobs being cut however, if you factor in casual labour that won’t be required, and that is still a bitter pill for a town like Timaru to swallow,’ said Wayne Butson.
‘We’re working with the employer to ensure the transition to servicing the new shipping line goes smoothly and to protect our members’ interests,’ he said.
‘What we’re not going to give up on is highlighting the irresponsibility of this do nothing Government that allows Kiwi workers and their families to be thrown on the scrapheap when it is just not necessary,’ he said.
‘The reality is that whilst it is Timaru today it will be some other port town tomorrow and that should not, and does not, need to happen,’ said Wayne Butson.