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Interislander strike rests on new vote

Whether Interislander sailings will be disrupted by strike action from Saturday should be known by Wednesday evening, after union members vote on the latest contract offer from KiwiRail.

The Aviation and Marine Engineers Association (AMEA) and Merchant Services Guild members will vote at a series of meetings on Wednesday on whether or not to accept collective contracts.

They have already issued a strike notice for the first week of December after members voted to reject KiwiRail's offer following months of contract negotiations.

KiwiRail responded with a lock-out notice, saying if the services did not sail, union staff would not be paid.

Mediation ended on Monday and AMEA national industrial organiser Stan Renwick told NZ Newswire the contracts would be put to members on Wednesday. Their vote should be known by evening.

KiwiRail says its wage bill is too high for it to be competitive, but the unions say their members will suffer massive pay cuts with what the company has so far offered.

AMEA represents 70 engineering officers and MSG represents 54 deck officers.

If the strike proceeds it will affect about 14,000 passengers, 4000 cars and 1200 rail wagons.