WASHINGTON: Representatives from Lyttelton Port Co and the Maritime Union have reached an agreement in principle and all strike notices have been lifted. Lyttelton Port is now returning to normal operations, marketing manager Simon Munt said in a statement on the company’s website. A spokesman from the Maritime Union confirmed on Monday an agreement in principle had been reached and would be put to MUNZ members this week for ratification. ‘We’ve got a good feeling about it,’ he said. The port’s Munt said the fact strike notices were lifted was an ‘extremely positive development as we move much closer to achieving settlement’. Between 160 and 180 Lyttelton Port employees are part of the Maritime Union covered by the collective contract for the container terminal, which employs more than 250 people.
Port management wants to line up work rosters more closely with the company’s operating needs. The existing Lyttelton agreement was set to expire on March 7, 2016, and negotiations for a new collective agreement started in January last year, with 30 meetings in the second half of 2016. On December 1, union members unanimously voted to go on strike after rejecting a proposal by port management, with the outstanding issues over planned changes to the start and finish times for night shift workers by up to four hours. Several weekend strikes have occurred since them, forcing the port to implement contingency plans.