Resignations, 'very stressed' staff adding to Ports of Auckland shipping delays

Resignations and strained staff are adding to the Ports of Auckland's woes, with one leaked email saying workers are "very stressed".

Ships delivering stock for stores and Christmas presents are currently waiting up to three weeks to dock and unload.

The delays were caused by an automation upgrade that didn't go ahead due to COVID-19 and a lack of staff.

The port needs 27 more skilled people to drive cranes and straddles but says those people don't exist in New Zealand.

"That's why we've had to look offshore and we've got some opportunities there, but that's why we'll need the help of the Government to help get them in in a prompt way," Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson says.

An email sent from Ports of Auckland to shipping companies on Wednesday and leaked to Newshub says existing staff "are very stressed". In fact, they're so stressed they've had to take a break.

The port has reduced its maximum workweek to 56 hours, down from 60, and given workers two consecutive days off. That means 1300 hours less are being worked there every week.

"Credit to our workforce, they've been working through long hours," Gibson says.

Gibson apologised for the shipping delays and says he's "gutted" they've occurred.

"The 'just in time' principle around delivery is gone."

But he insists that despite people being frustrated while waiting for their Christmas presents, the delays don't make him the Christmas grinch.

"I'm not the Christmas grinch, we're doing the best we can under trying circumstances."