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Possible Sunday solution for docks disputes

GazetteNET News, Friday 18 February 2000

Docks overtime disputes could be relegated to history as both sides in the current dispute consider scrapping Sunday working.

The BIU are in court today to explain why they broke an injunction by having an overtime ban.

Labour Minister Paula Cox said she had been unable to broker an end to the dispute yesterday but was hopeful new methods of working would solve the argument over scheduled weekend work.

She said: "I think both parties are looking at it. There are innovative solutions being considered by both parties. Stevedoring Services can set some new framework. But it's not something for me to dictate.

A source close to the dispute agreed there was no need for Sunday working.

He said: "It used to be that ships came on Sunday so the goods could be fresh in the shops on Monday for the rest of the week.

"But now shops open seven days a week. And there is plenty of capacity on the docks.

"But I wonder whether the dockers really want an end to scheduled overtime - they make $4-500 a week on overtime. This adds to the costs of living for everybody."

BIU First Vice President Chris Furbert, who is in court today, refused to be drawn on the subject.

He said: "Until we have finished with the overtime case I don't want to make one comment about this. It's a matter for the courts to decide and then we will take it from there.

Marine and Ports officials were last night hoping the first cruise ship of the season would be able to dock in Hamilton today.

With the BIU urging members to lobby the Supreme Court today, there were fears the vessel's arrival could be affected.

Ports management are anticipating workers will be available to guide the Blackwatch into Hamilton and berth it for the day.

Meanwhile, Government services are expected to run as normal and the Public Transportation Board is assuming all their staff will report for duty.

Last night, officials were anticipating buses and ferries would be working as normal.

PTB director Herman Basden said: "The buses will be operating as normal. I expect all those people who are down to work, will be at work. I don't expect them to be doing other activities."

And Marine and Ports director Ron Ross said: "We are hopeful we will be able to service the Blackwatch."

All other Government services are expected to work as normal.