Watersiders’ Strike

They are called watersiders or wharfies and they work on the wharf, loading and unloading goods from ships in a port. Most belong to the Maritime Union. Today, 300 watersiders at the Ports of Auckland started a three-week strike. This is the 7th strike since early December, but this time it is a complete stop-work.

The Port Company and the watersiders have held talks many times to try to find a solution to the disagreements between the two sides. The Ports of Auckland wants to use contractors to do the work. This means they could hire contractors only when there is work. They would not have to pay workers when no ships are in port.

The Watersiders say that this is not fair. They need job security – a guarantee that they will have a regular income. They do not want to be on call for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Meanwhile importers and exporters are getting angry. One importer paid to bring his containers of goods from Wellington to Auckland by rail. The dairy company Fonterra, New Zealand’s biggest exporter, moved its business to other ports last month. One of those ports, the Port of Tauranga made a 22% profit for the last six months.

The Ports of Auckland company is owned by the Auckland Council which expects a good profit.


maritime – connected to the sea
union – group of workers who want good working conditions
strike – refuse to work, a stop-work
solution (noun) – solve (verb) an answer to a problem
job security – workers want to make sure they will always have work
guarantee – promise
be on call – be available for work


There are always more problems that we do not know about so we cannot say one side is right and the other side is wrong. What is the best way to solve disagreements like this?

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