No end in sight to Lyttelton Port dispute

Rail and Maritime Transport Union workers on strike.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union workers on strike. Photo credit: Newshub.

Manufacturers say their reputations are on the line as the Lyttelton Port industrial dispute drags on.

Planned strikes by Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) workers could shut the port for up to 10 days from Friday next week.

Manufacturer's Network chief executive Dieter Adam says international competition is stiff enough, without this complication.

"We are far away from key markets, and sometimes there are genuine reasons for delays anyway - like changes in shipping schedules… the last thing we need is to add on avoidable delays in delivering the goods."

There are no plans at this stage to return to the negotiating table.

"I have a feeling there is a level of intransigence on both sides… each side wants to win and not give in. The concerns of the wider Canterbury community seem to carry little weight," says Mr Adam.

The port won't pay any of the RMTU's 191 workers even though it's only 11 that will be striking, because those 11 operate the boats that take pilots out to incoming ships.

"The RMTU strike notice may be for only approximately 11 of its members but none of its 191 members will be paid for any day for which we receive a strike notice," Lyttelton Port chief executive Peter Davie told NZME on Thursday.

He said they've offered workers a 3 percent rise, and they should take it.

The RMTU responded by saying with a salary close to $1 million a year, Mr Davie can afford to treat his workers better.