New Zealand’s Port of Auckland loses major shipping line service

Ports of Auckland has postponed today’s mediation with the Maritime Union of New Zealand – Local 13 (MUNZ) after hearing this morning that it had lost a major shipping line service.

The company confirmed that Maersk Line had permanently shifted its Southern Star container shipping service from Auckland to Tauranga.

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson said he was advised of the news by Maersk early this morning.

“Naturally, we are hugely disappointed,” Mr Gibson said. “The Southern Star was one of Auckland’s largest shipping services.”

The port company will lose 52 ship calls, 82,500 containers (123,600 TEU), and nearly $20m in revenue annually.

“Maersk have explained to us that the possibility of further industrial unrest has been central to their decision to shift the service to Tauranga.”

Mr Gibson said his worst fears had been realised.

“We had already warned the union that their strike action, during one of the busiest times in the shipping schedule, could cost Ports of Auckland a major customer and threaten jobs.”

“However, despite these warnings, a very fair offer on the table and a further offer of a paid stop work meeting, the union proceeded with its strike over last weekend, has already given notice of another strike this Friday, and is continuing to signal the possibility of further strikes, saying publicly it will do ‘whatever it takes’.”

“Given the magnitude of this service loss we have decided to postpone mediation till later in the week,” Mr Gibson said. “We need time to work through the implications of the change in relation to the collective bargaining process.”

Mr Gibson reiterated his call for the union to lift the strike notice it has in place for this coming Friday. “Further strikes will achieve nothing other than to put jobs at Ports of Auckland at risk and undermine the country’s supply chain at a critical time of the year.”

The service loss is effective from this week’s vessel, the Euro Max voyage 126N, which will now call Tauranga on Saturday 10 December.

Source: Port of Auckland