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Posts Tagged ‘Ports of Auckland’

A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part toru

8 March 2014 2 comments

Continued from:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part rua

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new-zealand-national-party_3382 adapted 2014

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An incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?*) coalition government will have much work to do – especially in it’s first three years.

In the six years that National has been in power, they have passed many odious and often repressive pieces of legislation. Labour and the Greens have already committed to repealing some of these laws and policies.

As a Labour-led coalition government addresses growing problems of child poverty; income inequality; a shortage of decent, affordable housing; and chronic unemployment, a legislative programme will demand a long list of progressive reforms.

In no particular order;

The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

An amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A, allows  employers to sack – without just cause or a chance for an employee to improve performance – within a 90 day period.

It gives unbalanced power to employers who can blackmail an employee or get rid of them at the slightest whim. It also makes workers less willing to be mobile in the workplace. Why change jobs at the risk of being fired within 90 days of taking up a new position?

When the 90 Day Trial period was first introduced in April 2009, it applied only to companies employing 19 staff or less.

By April 2011, this was extended to all companies regardless of staff numbers. (A typical National strategy; start small – then encompass an entire sector.)

Has it helped  generate more jobs as National claimed it would?  Evidence suggests it played very little part in creating employment, and indeed unemployment went up after both legislative changes,

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So aside from empowering employers and disempowering workers, what exactly was the point of enacting this piece of legislation? Because it seems that an awful lot of people lost their jobs through this legislation. As one media report stated,

It is not known how many workers were dismissed during the trial period, but the figures revealed 27 per cent of employers said they had fired at least one new employee during or at the end of their trial.

This means at least 18,000 people lost their jobs in the first three months of employment last year, with the actual figure likely to be much higher.

And precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s past promises (see below)?

This law gives too much power to one party in the Employer-Employee relationship, and it has no place in a fair-bargaining workplace.

On 17 October 2010, Labour promised that this law would be scrapped by an incoming Labour-led government. I hope the current Labour leadership has not resiled from this commitment.

Ports of Auckland Dispute – Shipping Lines Price Fixing

“The average income has been about $90,000, so it hasn’t been a badly-paid place. But the problem is flexibility when ships arrive and when staff get called out, how they can cope with that.” – John Key, 12 March 2012

Putting to one side the myth of  POAL maritime workers earning $90,000 – so what?

Even if it were true (which is doubtful – POAL has never released the workings of how they arrived at that sum, despite requests), isn’t such a good wage precisely what Dear Leader John Key has been advocating?

POAL management sought to reduce costs;  casualise their workforce; and compete with Ports of Tauranga for shipping business. Unfortunately, competing on costs would, by necessity, involve driving down wages.

This appears to have been motivated  by a high degree of price-fixing by shipping cartels, as was pointed out by the Productivity Commission in April 2012,

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Full story

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Rather than supporting the workers, Dear Leader bought into a situation where international shipping companies were playing New Zealand ports off against each other, to gain the  lowest possible port-charges.  Even local company, Fonterra, was playing the game.

Here we have a situation where New Zealand workers were enjoying high wages – something John Key insists he supports – and yet he was effectively allowing international corporations to create circumstances where those wages could  be cut and driven down.

As with the “Hobbit Law”, our Dear Leader appears to pay more heed to the demands of international corporate interests than to fulfilling his pledges to raise wages.

An incoming Labour-led government should immediatly implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation,

“The commission recommends that New Zealand require shipping companies wishing to collaborate to fix prices or limit capacity to demonstrate to the Commerce Commission that there will be a public benefit which will outweigh the anti-competitive effects.”

This problem must be addressed by an incoming government. It is simply intolerable for foreign corporations to be dictating labour laws; industrial relations; and wages, in a supposedly sovereign nation.

Youth Rates

From 1 May 2013, National  re-introduced a new Youth Rate. The rate would be set at $10.80 an hour [soon to be increased to $11.40 per hour]– compared to the then- minimum rate of $13.50  an hour  [soon to be $14.25 on 1 April this year], and would include 16 to 19 year olds.

John Key stated,

“For a lot of employers, they will go out there and say, ‘I’m going to give somebody a go that’s been in the workforce before’ and so the balance is against that younger person. That’s very disheartening for them – they are good young people, they just want a chance.

So I think it’s got to be seen in perspective – the vast overwhelming bulk of youngsters actually won’t go on a starting out wage.”

Which conflicts with John Key’s other assertions that he wants to see wages rise;

We think Kiwis deserve higher wages and lower taxes during their working lives, as well as a good retirement.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key, 8 February 2011

We want to increase the level of earnings and the level of incomes of the average New Zealander and we think we have a quality product with which we can do that.” -  John Key, 19 April 2012

Youth rates won’t achieve that goal, Mr Prime Minister!

There is no good reason why Youth Rates should actually create new jobs. More likely, a drop in youth wages will simply create more ‘churn’ in employment/unemployment numbers.

As David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, inadvertently  revealed,

Without an incentive an employer with a choice between an experienced worker and an inexperienced worker will choose experience every time.”

As Lowe admitted – there is no new job for the  younger worker. S/he is merely displacing an older worker.

As it is, figures from Statistics New Zealand’s  Household Labour Force Survey showed that unemployment for young people had already fallen by the March 2013 Quarter – a full two months before Youth Rates came into effect;

In the year to March 2013, there was a large fall in unemployment for people aged 15–24 years (down 10,500). This fall can be largely attributed to a decrease in unemployed 20–24-year-olds (down 11,200). This was an atypical fall in unemployment, as the number of people unemployed for this age group usually increases during March quarters. The unemployment rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 4.1 percentage points to 10.9 percent – the lowest rate since the September 2009 quarter.

The employment rate for 20–24-year-olds rose over the year to March 2013. There was also an increase in the number of people aged 15–24 years not in the labour force over the year. Behind this was a rise in the number of young people outside the labour force who are studying (up 25,000). The number of both 15–19-year-olds and 20–24-year-olds in study rose –  up 16,200 and 8,800 respectively.
NEET rate declines

In seasonally adjusted terms, the NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate for youth (aged 15–24 years) decreased 1.5 percentage points, to 12.5 percent in the March 2013 quarter. This is the lowest youth NEET rate since the September 2011 quarter. The NEET rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 2.4 percentage points to 15.9 percent.

As the global economy continued to improve; the Christchurch re-build moved into high gear; and demand for our exports increased, unemployment was bound to eventually fall.

In which case, paying young workers a lower wage than their older counterparts was nothing more than a “gift” handed to employers.

As such, it has no place in a modern, civilised society. Youth rates are exploitative and demoralising. They also drag adult wages downward, as employers can opt for cheaper labour, as  David Lowe stated above.

In October 2012, Labour’s then-Leader, David Shearer condemned youth rates,

“It’s not going to create jobs by driving down wages.  These people are going to leave and go to Australia.

We need an economy that provides decent, secure jobs and good incomes and where young people have hope and opportunity, not the low-wage vision promoted by National.”

An incoming Labour-led government must repeal this exploitative legislation.

Continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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(* At this point in time, NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters,  has not indicated which bloc – Labour or National – he intends to coalesce with. As such, any involvement by NZ First in a progressive government cannot be counted upon.)

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

To be continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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References

Parliament Legislation: Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A

NZ Herald: Will the 90 Day trial period make a difference?

Beehive:  90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers

Trading Economics: New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Waikato Times: Thousands sacked under 90-day trial period

Radio NZ:  Labour would scrap 90 day trial – Goff

Fairfax media: Calls to end shipping lines’ price fixing

Fairfax media: Jackson pulls back from port comments

Radio NZ: PM defends lower youth pay rate

Scoop media: Starting-out wage will help young people onto job ladder

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: March 2013 quarter

TV1 News: Employers back youth ‘starting wage’

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NZ Truth – Cameron-style

[This blogpost best read to the popular cult-hit, Gangnam-style.]

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The sleaziest blogger in New Zealand, Cameron Slater,  taking up the reins of editing the sleaziest newspaper,  ‘Truth‘ – appropriate. There must be some fundamental law of bio-physics which explains the process how such clumpings take place.

The appointment is ostensibly to give a boost to ‘Truth’s‘  circulation – a Big Ask in this age of internet and freely available news-content. Better newspapers than kitty-tray-liner-’Truth‘ are finding that their circulations are falling, despite attempts and gimmicks to stem the slide.

What Slater has to offer ‘Truth‘ is a bit of a mystery.

More sleaze? Plenty on the internet, with blogs such as the one Cameron edits.

A return to the Page Three Girl, with unfeasibly large mammary glands? How quaint.

Listings of recent divorces, such as the ‘Truth‘ used to publish? Care factor; nil.

Stories of political corruption and incompetance? Plenty of those. But considering that National is in power, I doubt his political handlers on the Ninth Floor will take kindly to their attack-pooch turning on their own. They shan’t be amused.

Or will he launch ongoing attacks on the Parliamentary Opposition? Bashing Labour, the Greens, Mana, NZ First, etc, will be a pointless exercise. Not being part of the government, what would be the point?

Or else Slater can just make up any old sh*t. As TV3′s Duncan Garner took him to task on 15 March, this year, when Slater was caught out fibbing (again),

For the record, claims made by the Beached Whale (Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater) that 3 News secured footage of John Key’s 2008 speech from the PSA are inaccurate.

The footage is held in our library.

It brings into question the credibility and accuracy of all his other blogs, read by dozens of followers.

Big claims from a big man on a small blog site.

It’s a shame he is wrong. Why does Slater make so much of his stuff up?

Source: Whale Oil lies again – opinion

The most stomach turning aspect of this appointment is not that Slater will be ‘Truth’s‘ editor – the two are a perfect match for each other – but his comments today on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘,

It used to be that journalists held the powerful to account. They went out there and they outed people  that basically caused the working man grief.”

Hear: Radio NZ – Blogger takes helm at Truth

Yes, it’s terrible when someone does things that  “caused the working man grief”. Things like this,

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Full story

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Full story

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Slater had nil reservations about posting personal details of a port worker. Perhaps he thought that smearing a man whose wife had died from a terminal disease would not “cause the working man grief “?

Let’s hope Slater is more responsible  in his new, paid role.

What are the chances?

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Citizen A – 21 June 2012 – Online now!

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Citizen A

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- 21 June 2012 -

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-  Efeso Collins & Phoebe Fletcher -

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Issue 1 : The Pacific Island communities marched up queen street last week in protest – what are their concerns and does NZ give the Pacific Island community enough political and cultural voice?

Issue 2: The Ports of Auckland dispute has been settled, but are there still moves to sell and move the Port? Should Local Councils be privatizing their assets?

Issue 3: Len Brown has organized a new task force to look into the drinking culture – what should he be doing?

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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Employment Court Upholds Maritime Union Injunction!

29 March 2012 6 comments

Announced today, the Employment Court has judged in favour of the Maritime Court, seeking an injunction against Ports of Employment Ltd’s  plans to contract out 297 jobs currently held by union workers,

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MARITIME UNION OF NEW ZEALAND INC V PORTS OF AUCKLAND LIMITED

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NZEmpC AK [2012]
NZEmpC 54 [27 March 2012]

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IN THE EMPLOYMENT COURT
AUCKLAND

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[2012] NZEmpC 54
ARC 13/12
ARC 17/12

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IN THE MATTER OF an application for declaration, proceedings removed from Employment Relations Authority
AND IN THE MATTER OF applications for interim injunctions
BETWEEN MARITIME UNION OF NEW ZEALAND INC Plaintiff
AND PORTS OF AUCKLAND LIMITED Defendant

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Hearing: 27 March 2012 (Heard at Auckland)
Counsel: Mr Carruthers QC, Mr Cranney and Mr Mitchell, counsel for plaintiff Mr Haigh QC, Mr McIlraith and Ms Dunn, counsel for defendant
Judgment: 27 March 2012
Reasons: 29 March 2012

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REASONS FOR ORAL INTERLOCUTORY JUDGMENT
OF JUDGE B S TRAVIS

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[1] These are my reasons for issuing interim injunctions on 27 March 2012 in the following terms:

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(i) The defendant will take no further steps to advance or implement the proposal to make the plaintiff’s members redundant.
(ii) The defendant will not dismiss the plaintiff’s members.
(iii) The defendant will not employ or engage Drake New Zealand Ltd or Allied Workforce Ltd or any other person to perform the work of striking or locked-out employees in breach of s 97 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.
(iv) The defendant will instruct Drake New Zealand Ltd and Allied Workforce Ltd and any other contractor employed or engaged by the defendant to cease any form of advertising, training or recruitment or any form of preparation for those activities on behalf of the defendant or otherwise.
(v) The defendant will not make any statement to, or which could, encourage any union member to seek or accept employment with the contractors identified in (iv) above.
(vi) In the event that the defendant intends to employ or engage any other person to perform work covered by the collective agreement in dispute, it will give the plaintiff 48 hours’ notice to enable the plaintiff to apply for relief.
[8] The defendant will not take any further steps in relation to applications for voluntary redundancy until 5pm on Friday 30 March 2012 or further order of the Court.

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[2] The plaintiff union (MUNZ) has made two applications for interim injunctions against the defendant. The first in time was filed on 13 March 2012 and sought interlocutory injunctions, in broad terms, to prevent the defendant, Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL), from proceeding to contract out stevedoring and other work at the ports of Auckland (the contracting out injunctions). The contracting out injunctions were set down for hearing on 22 March. They were then adjourned on the basis of undertakings offered to the Court by the defendant, which were accepted by the plaintiff on 21 March, and are recorded in a minute of 22 March. It was agreed that the interlocutory application for the contracting out injunctions could be brought on at short notice by either party.

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[3] The plaintiff union applied on 23 March to bring on the contracting out injunctions for hearing. This was on the grounds that the undertakings offered to the Court by the defendant and recorded in the minute of 22 March had been breached. The plaintiff sought more effective oversight by the Court of the defendant’s conduct. The injunction application was therefore set down for hearing on Tuesday 27 March.

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[4] At that hearing, the defendant consented to the plaintiff’s application but the Court was required to be satisfied that it had the jurisdiction to issue the interim injunctions and that this was a proper case for the exercise of its discretion. Mr Carruthers, counsel for the plaintiff, provided his written submissions to the Court and the defendant. These contained references to a schedule of documents from the bundles of documents obtained on disclosure and filed in Court by the plaintiff. It was agreed that I should not have regard to those documents until the defendant had had the opportunity to respond to them, which it would do by midday on Thursday 29 March. As I shall indicate, I was satisfied from the balance of Mr Carruthers’s submissions that this was a proper case for the issuance of the interim injunctions as consented to by the defendant.

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[5] The second application for interlocutory injunctions was to restrain what were allegedly unlawful lockouts imposed by the defendant on 22 March (the lockout injunctions). That application was filed on 23 March and agreed to be heard at the same time as the contracting out injunctions. The second application was adjourned by consent until Friday 30 March 2012 on the basis of the defendant’s offer to pay all permanent and P24 union employees (a category covered by the expired collective agreement) who were available for work, for the period from 3pm on Thursday 22 March when the strike notices were lifted, for their guaranteed shifts under the expired collective agreement, until 3pm on Friday 30 March 2012. To determine which union employees were available for work, those union members would need to present themselves at 3pm on Thursday 29 March 2012 at a place within one kilometre of the Port nominated by the defendant, and which was to be advised to the plaintiff by 9am on Wednesday 28 March.

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Factual background

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[6] The factual background which I am about to set out is not, for the most part, in dispute and is based on the current pleadings. It should be noted, however, that although leave may be required to do so, as the substantive matter has been set down, either party may apply to amend its pleadings so the admissions on which I have relied for present purposes only, may not be those on which the substantive proceedings are heard.

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[7] Three classic tests are to be applied to the question of whether an interlocutory injunction should issue. The first is whether the plaintiff has an arguable case. The second test is where the balance of convenience lies between the parties before the substantive matter can be heard and determined. Because the grant of interim relief is discretionary, the third test requires the Court to stand back from the detail of the first two tests and to ask where the overall justice of the case lies at the interlocutory stage.

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[8] The plaintiff is a registered union. The defendant was established under the Port Companies Act 1988 and operates the port at Auckland. The defendant employs approximately 297 of the plaintiff’s members (the union members), of whom approximately 235 are employed as stevedores. Others are engineers and tradespersons. The plaintiff and the defendant are engaged in collective bargaining to settle a new collective agreement to replace the collective agreement which expired on 30 September 2011. The expired agreement continues in force, pursuant to s 53 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (the Act). The bargaining commenced on 6 September 2011.

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[9] One of the issues discussed, but yet to be settled in the bargaining, is a proposal by the plaintiff that work covered by the new collective agreement not be contracted out during the term of the agreement. The expired collective agreement contains a clause which deals with contracting out but there is a dispute as to whether it has been properly complied with by the defendant.

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[10] On 9 January 2012, it is alleged that the defendant issued a public press statement and advised the plaintiff that the defendant proposed the introduction of a contracting out model which might lead to the redundancy of the union members (the contracting out proposal). All subsequent dates refer to events in 2012.

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[11] On 7 March, the defendant informed the plaintiff that it had decided to implement the contracting out proposal and stated that this would result in the termination of the union members’ employment and their reengagement with new employers (the contractors) from whom proposals were being sought by the defendant. The defendant referred to a six week period of consultation prior to the
defendant issuing notices of termination. The defendant alleges that stevedores employed by it, including the union’s members, have the opportunity to apply for employment with the selected contractors, that it has consulted with the union on these matters and alleges that the union has refused to engage on these issues. These matters are in dispute.

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[12] On 9 March, it is alleged that the plaintiff received a media release from the defendant which stated that it had signed contracts with Drake New Zealand Limited (Drake) and Allied Workforce Limited (AWF) following its decision “to introduce competitive stevedoring at its Fergusson and Bledisloe Container Terminal operations” and that a further press release naming the third company that would be working with the defendant was expected shortly.

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[13] The affidavits filed in support of the interim injunction stated that the union has received no information as to the terms of the contracts between the defendant and the selected contractors. The affidavits also deposed that the union understands that its members are going to be encouraged to make applications for positions with the new contractors. In support of those allegations, references were made to statements made by the chairman of the defendant, Richard Pearson, in the media in which he was alleged to have said that the union members needed to apply for jobs with the new contractors.

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[14] Affidavits from three union members have deposed that they are permanent stevedores who have been employed by the defendant for up to 15 years, have economic commitments to their family and are torn between wanting a collective agreement between their union and the defendant and their concerns that they might have no option but to apply for employment with the contractors. The affidavit of Russell Mayn, the secretary/treasurer of the Auckland branch of the plaintiff union, has expressed the view that the union membership will be torn between the need to keep working even with contractors and their wish to be employed under a collective agreement and that since the announcement of 9 January, the collective bargaining has been undermined by the threat of the contracting out proposal. Mr Mayn also deposes that the active recruitment of stevedores for the contracting companies would allow such employees to be engaged to perform the work of striking workers
during the strikes which, at the time the affidavits were sworn, were currently in place and were to continue. The strike notices were withdrawn on 22 March.

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[15] On 21 March, the agreement referred to above (at [2]) was reached between the parties which allowed the application for the lockout injunctions to be adjourned sine die to be brought on at short notice, if sought by either party. It also allowed for the substantive hearing, set down to commence on 26 March for five days, to be adjourned sine die on the same basis. This agreement was reached on the basis of the undertakings given by the defendant in the following terms:

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The defendant makes the following undertakings for a period of one month from Thursday 22 March 2012 and thereafter by agreement or further order of the Court:

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(i) The defendant will take no further steps to implement the proposal to make the plaintiff’s members redundant.
(ii) The defendant will not dismiss the plaintiff’s members.
(iii) The defendant will not employ or engage Drake Personnel Limited or Allied Workforce Limited, or any other person to perform the work of striking employees in breach of s 97 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 and will take steps to instruct Drake Personnel Limited, Allied Workforce Limited and any other potential contractor not to undertake any recruitment or training related to the contracting out of work at Ports of Auckland.
(iv) In the event that the defendant intends to employ or engage any other person to perform work covered by the collective agreement in dispute, it will give the plaintiff 48 hours’ notice to enable the plaintiff to apply for relief.

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[16] The plaintiff’s affidavits set out statements allegedly made by Mr Pearson on 22 March in radio and television interviews to the effect that there had been “no U-turn. You could call it a route deviation if you have to”. He also allegedly stated on television on 22 March that the defendant was:
… encouraging our staff that’s on strike still to come and apply for jobs with the contractors. So there’s no change there. The board, we’ve made no change in our view, of the benefits of contracting and it’s the right decision for the Port.

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[17] Other examples are given, including an interview allegedly given at 7.16am on 22 March on Newstalk ZB Auckland during the Mike Hosking Breakfast programme, in answer to a question as to whether there had been a U-turn, Mr Pearson stated:
… we are encouraging our staff that are actually still on strike, if they want to apply for jobs at the Port, come and apply, there’s no change to that process at all.

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[18] The plaintiff also provided an affidavit which detailed enquiries allegedly made of Drake and AWF which suggested that the staff of those companies, responding to enquiries on 21 and 22 March, were unaware of any instruction from the defendant to cease recruitment of staff for work at the defendant’s premises. I note that Mr Haigh, counsel for the defendant, gave an undertaking in open Court on 27 March confirming that the defendant had instructed both Drake and AWF to cease any form of advertising, training or recruitment or any form of preparation for those activities on behalf of the defendant, as it had undertaken so to do. I unhesitatingly accepted Mr Haigh’s undertaking, as did Mr Carruthers.

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[19] At around midday on 22 March, the members of the union voted to end their strike currently in place, which was to end on 23 March, and voted to end the two week strike that would have commenced on 23 March and have concluded on 6 April 2012. The union immediately wrote to the defendant advising it that the strikes ended immediately and that it was the union’s expectation “that members will be rostered from second shift today commencing at 3pm.”

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[20] Mr Mayn deposes that the union members had an expectation that some members would be able to return to work at the commencement of the second shift at 3pm on 22 March. He also deposes that since that time, members of the union have not been allowed to return to work and that the defendant invited the plaintiff to attend a meeting to discuss the issue on 23 March. He also deposes that at around midday on 22 March, the defendant served a lockout notice on the plaintiff advising of a complete and continuous discontinuance of employment from 12.01 am on 6 April until its demands were complied with.

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[21] The issues relating to the lockout notice and the defendant’s alleged refusal to allow the union employees to return to work on 22 March will be dealt with in the hearing on 30 March.

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Arguable case

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[22] Counsel for the defendant has advised the Court that, whilst the defendant does not accept that it has breached any of the undertakings recorded in the Court minute of 22 March, it nevertheless consented to the orders sought by the plaintiff in the contracting out injunctions.

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[23] The plaintiff has indicated that it intended to amend its application, in relation to the contracting out injunction, to seek a further order that the defendant not progress any voluntary redundancies. This is based on a letter allegedly sent to members of the union on 23 March by Mr Gibson (Chief Executive of POAL), which refers to the handling of enquiries from employees seeking voluntary severance. Without objection, the plaintiff has been granted leave to amend its contracting out injunctions application to include reference to the allegations about voluntary severance and this matter will be dealt with on 30 March. In the meantime the situation will be covered by the last interim injunction set out in [1] above.

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[24] I find that there is a seriously arguable case that the actions of the defendant in allegedly threatening to and then deciding to contract out the work on which the union employees were engaged under the expired collective agreement whilst collective bargaining was on foot for a new collective agreement was likely to undermine and arguably has undermined the bargaining. It will also, arguably, undermine the bargaining in the future. It is therefore seriously arguable that those actions have breached s 32(1)(d)(iii) of the Act. This section provides that the duty of good faith in s 4 of the Act requires a union and an employer bargaining for a collective agreement to do a number of things. These include the requirement in subsection (d)(iii) that the union and the employer:
must not undermine or do anything that is likely to undermine the bargaining or the authority of the other in the bargaining.

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[25] It is contended by the plaintiff that the proposal and the decision to contract out have caused a fear of dismissals among union members and has created pressure on their families and thereby undermined the bargaining for the new collective. There is evidence in the affidavits before the Court which makes this arguable.
[26] Mr Carruthers’s submissions noted that the issue of mass dismissals of the workforce during bargaining has been addressed only briefly in the s 32(1)(d)(iii) context and was left open by Chief Judge Colgan in Eastern Bay Independent Industrial Workers Union 1995 Inc v Norske Skog Tasman Ltd.1 It was not raised in New Zealand Amalgamated Engineering Printing & Manufacturing Union Inc v Carter Holt Harvey Ltd2 and he submitted that the restructuring in that case was allowed to continue in parallel with bargaining because contracting out was, unlike the present case, not an issue in the bargaining.

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[27] Mr Carruthers submitted that, even under the Employment Contracts Act 1991, mass dismissals for bargaining purposes had been found to be unlawful in McCulloch v New Zealand Fire Service Commission3 and New Zealand Seafarers’ Union Inc v Silver Fern Shipping Ltd (No 2).4

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[28] Next, it has been contended that the dismissal proposals constituted an unlawful lockout. I consider that this is less seriously arguable because there appears to be a lack of the demands which are required to bring the defendant’s alleged actions within the definition of “lock out” in s 82(1)(b)(ii) of the Act.

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[29] It is also contended that the dismissal proposals are contrary to the obligation imposed by s 4(1A)(b) of the Act which requires the defendant to be active and constructive in maintaining a productive employment relationship with the union members of the plaintiff. It is contended that the decision to initiate mass dismissals of the entire bargaining unit was contrary to that duty. There is also an allegation that the defendant has failed to provide information concerning the contracting out proposals in breach of s 4(1A) before any decision was made.

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1 [2010] NZEmpC 165 at [11].
2 [2002] 1 ERNZ 597.
3 [1998] 3 ERNZ 378.
4 [1998] 3 ERNZ 786.

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[30] Finally, there is an issue that by progressing the dismissal proposal and engaging the contractors, their employees will be performing the work of striking employees in breach of s 97 of the Act. That will be equally arguable, even though the strike has ceased, if the dismissal proposals are pursued while the threatened lockouts apply. I find that all these issues are arguable and they will be dealt with in the substantive hearing commencing on 16 May.

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[31] As to the balance of convenience, if the dismissal proposals were allowed to proceed before the issues can be substantively resolved, this arguably would have irretrievable consequences for those dismissed employees. The injunctions sought apply until the substantive hearing and may delay the defendant exercising its contractual rights (which are also in issue). However, to permit the exercise of those rights, which are in dispute in the interim because of statutory requirements, could cause irreversible damage to the plaintiff’s members. I note, in this regard, that the substantive issues would have been addressed in the week commencing 26 March but for the undertakings which arguably have been breached. The Court could have provided an earlier fixture in the week commencing 23 April, but counsel for the defendant advised that the defendant was not available. The date finally allocated was suitable for the parties. In all the circumstances, I was satisfied that the balance of convenience favoured the granting of the injunctive relief sought, in the form to which the defendant consented.

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[32] Standing back from the detail, I was also persuaded that the overall justice of the case required that the defendant be prevented from exercising its dismissal proposals until its right to be able to do so, in light of the statutory requirements, is dealt with by the substantive hearing.

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B S Travis
Judge

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Judgment signed at 11.00am on 29 March 2012

Source

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Clearly, Judge Travis is thouroughly unimpressed with the behaviour of POAL and has issured his judgement accordingly.

It is reassuring that the Employment Relations Act works in favour of workers and employers cannot ride roughshod over their employees.

Long may this continue.

Nek step: sack the board and CEO of POAL. Their incompetance has cost Auckland millions in lost income.  The Auckland Council must address this vital issue, or themselves be accused of gross dereliction of duty.

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Acknowledgement

Helen Kelly

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Gerry Brownlee – “In the public interest”

24 March 2012 3 comments

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Full Story

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Are we being treated as children by National’s Gerry Brownlee?

It certainly appears so, when he refuses to release information relating to the Ports of Auckland dispute. It appears that any information Brownlee is witholding is being done because it would be embarressing to National.

Let’s be upfront here; National leaks information when it suits their agenda.

The Nick Smith/Bronwyn Pullar situation is one example. Who leaked Pullar’s name and details to the media?

Who leaked Michelle Boag’s email, that had been sent to ACC Minister Judith Collins (and subsequentlyt forwarded to ACC)?

It could only have been one of two ‘players’ in this politi-drama; ACC or a Minister of the Crown. My money is on the latter.

And now, in the last 24 hours, we have the leaking of pay and conditions of MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs &  Trade) staff to the media. Again, judging by the detailed nature of the information leaked, it could only have emanted from a Ministerial desk.

And in July 2009, we had the open release of  Natasha Fuller and   Jennifer Johnston’s WINZ details to the media, by Welfare Minister, Paula Bennet.

The condemnation of Bennett’s unethical behaviour led to complaints to the Privacy Commissioner (still awaiting resolution).

I suspect that the odium laid upon Bennett’s head over her abuse of Ministerial power served as a warning to other National ministers. Now, instead of releasing information openly, they now do it through  clandestine means, employing third parties such as feral bloggers.

It is obvious that Brownlee has something to hide – that is the only interpretation of his outright refusal to release information to the public. (Information, by the way, which we taxpayers have paid for.)  Brownlee is hiding information that is most like embarressing and could shed some light on the machinations of POAL management, Board, and ministerial involvement.

After all, if the information wasn’t potentially damaging to Brownlee and National – wouldn’t it  have served their purposes to have released it by now?

In fact, wouldn’t they have leaked it already?

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Related Blogposts

Gerry Brownlee – Diplomat

Finland, some thoughts

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Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#rima)

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Last night…

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Source

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In the NZ Herald,  Port chairman Richard Pearson said,

Judge Travis had encouraged the company to return to mediation and it would do so in good faith. The only thing that has changed is that the judge has encouraged the parties to have one more crack at mediation. That is it.”

One could practically hear a collective sigh of relief from the citizens of Auckland; port workers would be back at work; and POAL would return to mediation.

Brilliant!

Common sense prevails!

People were practically dancing in the streets!!

But then, by this morning,  an industrial “atomic bomb” was detonated,

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Full Story

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It should be noted that, as in the case of a Union required by law to give two weeks notice of  a strike, an employer must also give two weeks notice of any intention to lock-out workers. No ifs, no buts, no maybes; that’s the law.

It is one thing for POAL to issue a two weeks notice to port workers. That is lawful (though not terribly wise).

It is also another thing for an employer to lock-out workers immediatly, as seems to be happening. That is illegal. It is just as illegal as a strike without notice, as happened recently in Wellington.

It is also hardly a sign of good faith bargaining, as Labour Party employment issues spokeswoman Darien Fenton said today,

Any good faith bargaining was impossible with a lockout notice looming. That action is in defiance of an agreement reached just yesterday with the Employment Court that good faith negotiations would resume with the Maritime Union.”

On this issue, it appears that POAL management have mis-calculated. The Union has every right to seek legal remedies through the Courts, and indications are, that the Maritime Union will do so.

This incident should give considerable cause for concern to the Auckland Council. It has been more and more apparent recently that POAL management are practically out of control, and are pursuing an agenda of their own.

That agenda became more apparent with the shock revelations uncovered by the NZ Herald that a POAL manager is also  a director of another company – and has been recruiting non-union contract-labour to work on the ports,

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Full Story

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This is no longer an industrial dispute – this has the odour of conflict of interests at best, or corruption at worst.

The Auckland Council has every right to be concerned.

Someone may be planning to personally profit from the dispute and de-unionisation of Ports of Auckland.

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The Green Party’s media statement on this issue sums matters up perfectly,

Auckland Mayor Len Brown must step into the ports dispute now that workers have been locked out, the Green Party says.

The Maritime Union says Ports of Auckland has illegally issued striking workers a lockout notice, a day after the parties were convinced by a judge to head back to mediation.

“The Ports of Auckland’s decision to lock out the union workers is in direct defiance of the settlement reached between Ports of Auckland and the Maritime Union in the Employment Court,” Greens industrial relations spokeswoman Denise Roche said.

This lockout notice is yet another example of the bad faith bargaining by the Ports of Auckland management.”” – Source

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The Employment Relations Act 2000 is quite specific in stating that an employer cannot replace striking workers,

” 97. Performance of duties of striking or locked out employees
  • (1) This section applies if there is a lockout or lawful strike.

    (2) An employer may employ or engage another person to perform the work of a striking or locked out employee only in accordance with subsection (3) or subsection (4).

    (3) An employer may employ another person to perform the work of a striking or locked out employee if the person—

    • (a) is already employed by the employer at the time the strike or lockout commences; and

    • (b) is not employed principally for the purpose of performing the work of a striking or locked out employee; and

    • (c) agrees to perform the work.

    (4) An employer may employ or engage another person to perform the work of a striking or locked out employee if—

    • (a) there are reasonable grounds for believing it is necessary for the work to be performed for reasons of safety or health; and

    • (b) the person is employed or engaged to perform the work only to the extent necessary for reasons of safety or health.

    (5) A person who performs the work of a striking or locked out employee in accordance with subsection (3) or subsection (4) must not perform that work for any longer than the duration of the strike or lockout.

    (6) An employer who fails to comply with this section is liable to a penalty imposed by the Authority under this Act in respect of each person who performs the work concerned.”

It would appear that by hiring new port workers, the POAL are clearly breaking the law. It remains to be seen if management can flout the law with impunity. If so, why shouldn’t Unions?

Perhaps  the previous Labour Government did not go far enough, when they enacted the Employment Relations Act to replace the odious and largely discredited Employment Contracts Act.

Perhaps it it time to remove the law preventing other Unions from supporting those who are on strike.

After all, the right to strike – to withdraw one’s labour -  is a fundamental human right. The West openly supported the Polish Solidarity Free Trade Union movement in the 1980s – especially the right to strike.

If employers such as AFFCO, POAL, et al, are prepared to lock-out workers in a methodical agenda to smash unionisation of their workers – then obviously the law is ineffectual.

When a new Labour-led government takes office, this blogger will be making representations on the following issues;

  • That the Employment Relations Act be strengthened,
  • That Unions be free to give industrial support to fellow striking Unions,
  • That representatives from the Labour Department and other Third Parties  be permitted to attend industrial negotiations, as impartial observers,
  • And that City Councils and other local bodies are given more direct control over Council Controlled Organisations CCOs) than they do at present

This will be a matter of urgency for a new incoming Labour-led Government. Union-busting cannot be allowed in this country.

Anyone in doubt as to POAL’s duplicity may wish to listen to this interview earlier today,

Radio NZ: Listen to more from Richard Pearson on Checkpoint

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Additional

Ports negotiator alleged to have sought workers

Other Blog Posts

Chris Trotter: Only People Power Can Save Our Ports

Tumeke: PoA u-turn over manufactured crisis

No Right Turn:  Psychopathic management in action

Socialist Aotearoa: There is Blood in the water

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Ports of Auckland Ltd – THAT magic 12% figure!

14 March 2012 4 comments

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Much has been made of Port of Auckland Ltd being required to make a 12% return to it’s shareholder and owner, the Auckland City Council.

As recently as last Sunday (11 March), Len Brown confirmed the figure (albeit in a roundabout way), in an interview with Paul Holmes,

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LEN  And by that, I mean that we are the 1.5 million Aucklanders, we own the shares, and as a consequence of that, I’m looking after their interests.  I want that port to be successful.  I certainly want a greater return on our investment-
 
PAUL Let’s talk about that shortly, but I wondered about your position because you have said and I quote you, ‘We deserve a port that’s competitive, a decent return for ratepayers and a settlement that is sustainable.’  That sounds like the port’s position, Mr Mayor.
 
LEN  No, it sounds like our position – our position, the council’s position and the position of any Aucklanders.  Look, my commitment during the campaign was not selling the ports; we will hold the port shares.  Secondly, we wanted the ports to be more commercial and present a much better return for ratepayers.

PAUL And that return, of course, the figure that you’ve come up with is you want an increase from 6.3% I think it is at the moment.

LEN  Yeah.
 
PAUL After tax.

LEN  12% over five years in terms of return on investment.
 
PAUL Where did you get the 12% from?  Pluck it out of the air?
 
LEN  No-

PAUL There’s not a port in Australasia, Mr Brown, making 12%.

LEN  So our view was, though, that the port was not performing as well as it was.  Now, you’ve heard Mr Pearson say it’s an aspirational target.  What we’re saying to the port is this is our view.  We believe as a consequence of the assessments that we’ve done within the  council-
 
PAUL Well, how firm are you on this?  Have you laid down the law on the 12%?

LEN  We have given it to them in our statement of corporate intent.  Right at the start of the year, I went down to the port, met all the workers and the employees and the company directors down there and said, ‘Right, this is what we’re expecting from the port.’  And we had an hour’s Q & A-
 
PAUL This is what we’re expecting.  Is this-?  I mean, were you laying the law about the return you want in five years – 12%?
 
LEN  We were laying down the law in terms of what we expected from the port in terms of its return and in terms of its performance generally.

PAUL Where did you get the 12%?

LEN  So, the 12% was an estimate, a view that certainly I’ve been working on for right through the last sort of 18 months, two years.  It was view that was discussed our own table with the officers, with our own council-
 
PAUL So it’s a guess?  It’s a good guess?

LEN  No, it’s an estimate.
 
PAUL (laughs)
 
LEN  This is what we think we should be aiming to achieve.  And so we went back to the company and said, ‘Okay, this where we think you should be.  What is your advice back to us?’  Their advice was, ‘Give us five years and we believe that we can receive that.’

PAUL Well, excuse me, look at this.  Okay, 12%, that’s your estimate – guesstimate.  Tauranga returns 6.8%, Lyttelton 8.6%, Sydney 6.7%, Melbourne 3.1%, Auckland 6% — 6.3% after tax.

LEN  So not just about return either-
 
PAUL Where’s the 12% being made anywhere?

LEN  It’s about competitiveness against other ports.  So we are losing share against Tauranga.  We are competing flat out against Brisbane, in particular, and Sydney.  It was our desire that we wanted the port to be much much stronger in terms of its-
 
PAUL Do you endorse what Mr Pearson was saying about he cannot believe the waste of resource at the Ports of Auckland?
 
LEN  Look, there’s a whole lots of things that we cannot believe about the performance of the Ports of Auckland, so it just was not about-

PAUL Can I just say to you again-?

LEN  a stronger return on investment.

Source: TVNZ Q+A

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Yet,  at a meeting of the CCO Strategy Review Subcommittee, held on 21 April last year, a motion was passed to the effect;

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PRESENT
Chairperson Mayor Len Brown, JP
Deputy Chairperson Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse
Councillors Cr Ann Hartley, JP
Mr Tony Kake
Cr Richard Northey, ONZM
Cr Sir John Walker, KNZM, CBE
Cr Penny Webster
ALSO PRESENT
Councillors Dr C Casey
C Fletcher
D Morrison
C Penrose
S Stewart  [until 11.25pm, part item 11]
W Walker

12  Shareholder Comments on the draft 2011-2014 Statements of Intent/Statement of
Corporate Intent of Substantive Council Controlled Organisations/Watercare Services
Limited

CCOS/2011/4
MOVED by Mayor Brown, seconded Cr Hulse:

b)

Auckland Council Investments Limited

ii) Replace the proposed shareholder comment on page 135 “Add a series of
performance measures/targets to measure port productivity and profitability.
This should include lifting the rate of return investment (from 6%-12% over
three years)” with
“Immediately following completion of the long-term strategy for POAL add to
ACIL’s statement of intent, a series of performance measures and stretch
targets to measure port productivity and profitability. The targets should
require a significant improvement in the performance of POAL, including the
rate of return on investment.”

CARRIED

Source: Council  Sub-Committee Minutes

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So it seems evident that Auckland City Council no longer demands an outrageously high rate of return from Ports of Auckland. The target now requires  “a significant improvement in the performance of POAL, including the
rate of return on investment” – which could be anything; 7%, 8%, 9%, etc.

I believe that there is evidence (more in a moment on that) that what we’re seeing here is Auckland City Council/Ports of Auckland in a war of competition with other local ports – Tauranga to be specific.  Since corporatisation of New Zealand ports,   there has been a steady drive to increasing profits; returns to shareholders; and “efficiency”.  This involves aggressively attracting new clients to use port facilities.

Considering that there is only a limited number of shipping coming to New Zealand at any given moment, ports can only increase business at the expense of other ports. In essence, they are “cannibalising” each other.

A New Zealand Institute of  Economic Research (NZIER) report entitled “Port Performance and Ownership
An assessment of the evidence Report to the Local Government  Forum 9 August 2010” makes the following observations,

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On the other hand, Maersk undoubtedly extracted significant discounts from Auckland to secure its business. Its standard business practice is to play off competing ports aggressively against one another in terms of price and the facilities they provide, such as fixed berth slots and equipment for loading and unloading. It cannot be criticised for its approach; it is operating in a very competitive market and needs to have as cost competitive a port service as it can find and negotiate. As Figure 8 shows, Port of Tauranga’s net profit after tax for continuing activities has been significantly better than Ports of Auckland’s since the Maersk decision in 2006.”

“…there is some evidence that Ports of Auckland, and possibly Lyttelton Port Company, have in recent times succumbed to local pressures to retain and grow the volume of trade through their port by agreeing to provide international shipping lines with levels of service at charges such that the services may not make a full economic return.”

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This seems to be born out by data, such as presented by the (NZIER),

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The graphs above show that despite having a higher a higher container volumes at Auckland than  Tauranga (1995 to 2009), Port of Auckland’s net profit after tax still dropped.

As NZIER stated,

It is extremely unlikely, therefore, that the commercial realities of the Maersk decision supported any change in the relative values of Tauranga and Auckland to the significant favour of Auckland. Indeed, the evidence suggests the impact was probably exactly opposite to this.”

With this in mind, the ongoing competition between NZ ports to attract business from shipping companies such as Maersk appears to be a self-defeating process; a race to the bottom.

In which case, POAL’s agenda for “greater productivity”  (ie; more profits) is now impacting on port worker’s incomes.  Driving down wages and casualising the workforce has the natural consequence of reducing the wages bill for the company.

This is what it’s all about; aggressive competition between ports.

And Maersk benefits.

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* * *

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Other Blogsites Views

No Right Turn: Ports and transparency

Bowalley Road: Only People Power Can Save Our Ports

Bowalley Road: A Study In Mauve

Pundit: Solving the Ports of Auckland dispute

Related Issues

Bryan Gould: Our workers being squeezed by the bottom line

Acknowledgement

Cathy Casey, Auckland City Councillor

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Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Wha)

13 March 2012 2 comments

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POAL management met with maritime workers and their union reps in Len Brown’s office yesterday, with the mayor mediating. The meeting  lasted supposedly for three hours – after which the protagonists emerged.

POAL announced no change in their position; the  sackings of 292 port workers would not be rescinded and casualisation and contracting out would proceed as planned.

POAL Board  chairman,  Pearson stated emphatically,

The collective negotiations are over. We’re now into implementing the decision. The contractors have already been engaged and they are recruiting.

“Where I feel the mayor could help in the mediation is to try and get the staff that are out on strike to apply for jobs with the contractors because we understand that there’s a sinister element in the union that’s preventing the individual employees to make that decision.” – Radio NZ

Pearson’s melodramatic reference to “a sinister element in the union ” would be laughable, if 292 families were not impacted by POAL’s intransigence,

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POAL management’s intransigence could be egoism at work from Broad Chairman Richard Pearson and CEO Tony Gibson – except there is much more to it than that.

POAL have consistantly stated that the casualisation and contracting out of their workforce was predicated on the port performing badly and needing to improve it’s comopetiveness. As  port CEO Tony Gibson said,

We’ve weighed up all the options and we believe this is the best decision for the future of the Port. Auckland enjoys significant natural advantages, including its proximity to New Zealand’s largest market, where 60% of exports, and 70% of import business takes place. Until now we have been constrained by practices which have reduced the Port’s competitiveness, and in recent months industrial action, which has lost us significant business.”

POAL Board chairman Richard Pearson said on TVNZ’s Q+A,

Well, from my perspective, Paul, I came into this situation, and I’ve been 37 years in the container port business and ports all around the world. I have never seen such a waste of resource going on here. I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift. You know, that’s like aeroplanes flying around waiting for-

Paul, Australasia’s not the benchmark for good container-port operations around the world, with all due respect, okay? As I’ve said to you, I have never seen such a potential asset like we’ve got at Auckland that could actually run better... [abridged] ” – Ibid

Paul, we’ve got them going. They’re working. 25 years Tauranga’s been working on this model, and it’s been working well. And during that time, we’ve lost 12% of our market to Tauranga. We can’t wait. We have to make this change now, and we have to make it quickly. ” – Ibid

POAL’s webpage, “Questions & Answers: Changes at Ports of Auckland“,  puts great emphasis on increased productivity and competitiveness.

Gibson and Pearson seem to be alarmed – almost in panic – at POAL’s  ‘lack of productivity’.

Which is curious.

Because recent official government reports paint a completely different picture,

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ministry of transport container pruductivity at nz ports october 2011

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The report states, in part,

New Zealand ports had differing results in 2009 and 2010, reflecting the differing situations for each
port. Tauranga performed well for crane, ship and vessel rates, while Auckland and Otago had vessel
rates comparable with Tauranga. The trends over the last two calendar years show that crane rates at
New Zealand ports on average have been static, but ship and vessel rates on average have grown
about four percent per annum. The container productivity of New Zealand ports appears at least
comparable with, and in some cases better than, Australian and other international ports.”

Auckland and Otago’s vessel rates are relatively higher than their crane rates. Container
terminal productivity tends to be higher when a ship loads and unloads more containers.
These ports have had regular calls from larger container ships (that is, ships with capacity for
4,100 containers). Consequently, these ports tend to use relatively more crane time4 than
other ports to load and unload containers from ships.”

Comparisons with Australian ports

Table 3 below compares New Zealand and Australian ports in 2010. Table 4 below compares
trends over 2009 and 2010 for national-average crane, ship and vessel rates. Some
conclusions are as follows.
• The national-average crane rate for New Zealand ports is slightly behind the nationalaverage
for Australian ports.
• The national-average ship and vessel rates for New Zealand ports are ahead of the
national-average for Australian ports.
• Crane rates in both countries are largely unchanged over the period.
• Ship and vessel rates in both countries are increasing (average growth rates in both
countries are about four percent per annum). The growth appears to be due to ports
using relatively more crane time than in previous years. This may be related to the
average size of container ships increasing in recent years.
• Comparing across all these ports, there is no apparent evidence that productivity
increases with larger total volumes of containers at ports (‘economies of scale’).”

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Conclusions

There is a mixture of container productivity results for New Zealand’s six main container ports,
reflecting the differing situations for each port. Overall, the top three container operations
appear to be Auckland, Tauranga and Otago. The trend over the last two years is for national average
crane productivity to be static, but national-average ship and vessel productivity to
grow about four percent per annum. This growth seems to be due to ports using relatively
more crane time than in previous years, which may be related to an increasing average size
of container ships.”

Just to emphasise the point; “Overall, the top three container operations

Which – yet again – shows up POAL management to be  somewhat ‘loose‘ with the truth.

One cannot but help come to the conclusion that Ports of Auckland is a reasonably efficient operation.

Profit-wise, it is also performing well, judging by NBR reports,

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Imports drive Ports of Auckland profit higher

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Increased traffic at Ports of Auckland

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Ports of Auckland profits hold steady

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Instead, it appears that the agenda to destroy the union and impose casualisation is a deliberate plan to drive down wages.  It seems to be a response to Auckland City Council’s demand to increase their rate of return from 6% to 12%. As Len Brown said on TVNZ’s Q+A on 11 March,

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PAUL Well, how firm are you on this?  Have you laid down the law on the 12%?

LEN  We have given it to them in our statement of corporate intent.  Right at the start of the year, I went down to the port, met all the workers and the employees and the company directors down there and said, ‘Right, this is what we’re expecting from the port.’  And we had an hour’s Q & A-
 
PAUL This is what we’re expecting.  Is this-?  I mean, were you laying the law about the return you want in five years – 12%?
 
LEN  We were laying down the law in terms of what we expected from the port in terms of its return and in terms of its performance generally.

PAUL Where did you get the 12%?

LEN  So, the 12% was an estimate, a view that certainly I’ve been working on for right through the last sort of 18 months, two years.  It was view that was discussed our own table with the officers, with our own council-
 
PAUL So it’s a guess?  It’s a good guess?

LEN  No, it’s an estimate.
 
PAUL (laughs)
 
LEN  This is what we think we should be aiming to achieve.  And so we went back to the company and said, ‘Okay, this where we think you should be.  What is your advice back to us?’  Their advice was, ‘Give us five years and we believe that we can receive that.’

PAUL Well, excuse me, look at this.  Okay, 12%, that’s your estimate – guesstimate.  Tauranga returns 6.8%, Lyttelton 8.6%, Sydney 6.7%, Melbourne 3.1%, Auckland 6% — 6.3% after tax.

LEN  So not just about return either-
 
PAUL Where’s the 12% being made anywhere?

LEN  It’s about competitiveness against other ports.  So we are losing share against Tauranga.  We are competing flat out against Brisbane, in particular, and Sydney.  It was our desire that we wanted the port to be much much stronger in terms of its- ” 

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So there we have it. The drive for greater profit.

Paid for out of the wages of ordinary workers.

Does this seem remotely fair to anyone? (ACT supporters need not respond to this question.)

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On the social networking ‘battlefront’,  supporters of  POAL have set up their own Facebook page,

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ports of auckland facebook page

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Meanwhile,  POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd)  continues to waste ratepayers’ money on full-page and half-page ads in our daily newspapers.

This propaganda piece appeared in the Business Section of the NZ Herald today,

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By “sheer coincidence” the ad was placed opposite an advertisement appealing to  port workers to abandon the picket line and contact either of the  two recruiting companies.

This is not just a gross mis-use of company funds – it is an abuse of economic power. This is a clear example of why trade unions are still very much  a necessity.

With trade unions to monitor workers’ rights and conditions, companies are able to  wield considerable power in any dispute.

(Acknowledgement to Cathy Casey.)

Interestingly, POAL states on their website that “We do not have any vacancies at the Ports of Auckland at this stage“,

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292 port workers would be happy to hear that.

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*** Update ***

Union seeks injunction to halt wharfie dismissals

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Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Toru)

12 March 2012 5 comments

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"Collective contract? You'll take what you're given, sonny-jim, or I'll plug ya full'o'neoliberal lead!"

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With the recent propagandising undertaken by Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) , using ratepayer’s money, I thought it might be timely to actually put some earnings into perspective.

The following figures are all taken  from various sources, and collated for your perusal and consideration.

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Incomes for Various

(All figures gross)

WHO?

HOW MUCH PER YEAR

HOW MUCH PER HOUR

NOTES
Graeme Hart, NZ’s richest man

?

?

Current worth: NZ$7 billion
Paul Reynolds, Telecom CEO

$1,750,000

$841.35

* To year ending June 2009* Not including $5,303,000 in bonuses, allowances, & perks
Prime Minister John Key

$411,510

$197.84

Not including perks & allowances
Cabinet Ministers

$257,800

$123.94

Not including perks & allowances
Members of Parliament

$141,800

$68.17

Not including perks & allowances
POAL CEO Tony Gibson

$750,000

$360.58

Not including perks & allowances
POAL Board Directors

$70,833 (ea.)

$34.05

Total fees; $425,000 p.a. divided by 6 Directors. (Part time positions)
POAL Stevedores

$56,700

$27.26

* Not including allowances
Australian Stevedores

Grade1: NZ$40,414 (A$31,429)

Grade6: NZ$60,528 (A$47,070)

Grade1: NZ$19.43 (A$15.11)

Grade6: NZ$29.10 (A$22.63)

* Figures in NZ dollars (Australian dollars) Oanda Currency Converter Rate A1:NZ1.286

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All figures based on sources below.

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Sources

NZ Herald:  NZ’s richest man rises up Forbes Rich List

NBR:  How Paul Reynolds’ pay stacks up against the competition

NZ Herald:  Two men and a port in a storm

Members of Parliament Salaries payable under section 16 of Civil List Act 1979

Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) 2010-2011 Financial Report (p18)

Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) The Facts

Australian Stevedoring Industry Award 2010

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Previous Blogposts

Workers lose their jobs – Day of Shame!

A media release I would love to see from Len Brown

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Rua)

10 March – Today was a True Labour Day!

Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

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Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

12 March 2012 1 comment

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POAL playing monopoly with lives

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This morning, Auckland Mayor Len Brown; Maritime Union National President, Gary Parsloe; and Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson were interviewed (separately) on TV1′s Q+A.  The following are transcripts of those interviews,

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Q+A: Transcript of Paul Holmes interviews Gary Parsloe and Richard Pearson

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PAUL This week the long-running labour dispute on the Auckland wharves came to a head with the Ports of Auckland making almost 300 workers, mostly stevedores, redundant. The Ports of Auckland claims it has to increase productivity to be competitive and deliver the required returns; only contractors can help them do that and provide exporters and importers with reliable service in an increasingly difficult world. The workers say Auckland’s already a profitable port, for heaven’s sake, and the contract on offer would have meant no guaranteed work each week and no ability to plan family time. And they even made an ad featuring workers’ families to ram the message home. So with me in the studio this morning are the Maritime Union head Gary Parsloe and the Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson. Now, both men will speak separately. So to you first, Mr Parsloe, what is this- at fundamental bottom, what is this dispute about?

GARY PARSLOE – Maritime Union

The dispute is about we just want a collective employment agreement that covers our members, one with some form of security so that people know when they go to work, when they don’t go to work, know what family time they’ve got.

PAUL Or is it about the amount of wages paid for downtime that the Ports of Auckland are worried about? They say it’s unsustainable; they don’t want to pay people when they’re not working.

GARY Well, they offered us 10% wages, and we declined it for 2.5%, and I don’t think it’s about money. We’ve never claimed money.

PAUL No, but, you see, they say there’s too much downtime and you’re still being paid. They want to pay you for when you work. What is wrong with that, Garry?

GARY Well, we’re quite willing to go through those things. In the mediation, we addressed those things. We gave up 18 points at the last mediation, that were going to address the flexibility, the downtime, we would continue. 18 points were put at the mediation, that’s right.

PAUL Look, I know, I mean, I was studying what the Ports of Auckland have come at you with over the last six months. They do not seem to have been madly ungenerous. I wonder if the strikes were an intelligent strategy. Even Mike Lee says going on strike was a grave error; that the Ports would turn on you, which is what they’ve done, of course.

GARY Well, of course, workers don’t have a lot of things in their power. The only time we can take strike action is in pursuit of a collective, and we waited to do that because we want a collective that covers our members. It gives them some form of job security.

PAUL But you were going to get a collective.

GARY Oh, I don’t know about that.

PAUL Come on, September 7 and 6 last year they came to you. The very first offer they were going to roll over the collective agreement was the 2.5% pay increase every year for three years. Now, why did you reject that?

GARY Because there was the fish hooks in the collective they wanted us to sign – the new one they gave us that took away all of our conditions, our security and was all the flexible hours-

PAUL Took away you having the right to roster, is that right?

GARY No, they took away a lot of things. Took away many many things. And, I mean, at that time you want to talk that they wanted a collective, well, I don’t believe they ever did. We got their strategy paper-

PAUL Why would they offer you a collective if they didn’t want a collective?

GARY We got a strategy paper last August, and in that strategy paper, they had $9 million of people’s money of Auckland. It’s on our website to get rid of the unions and get rid of them.

PAUL So go back to that September 6 and 7 offer – that they were going to roll over the collective agreement, 2.5% increase for three years every year. What were you going to lose exactly?

GARY Would have lost- There was nothing in there that defined times when people would go to work and not go to work and you couldn’t take the kid to the beach, couldn’t take your wife shopping, you had to sit by the phone all day wondering when you were next going to go to work.

PAUL Meaning they were going to do the roster, not the union?

GARY They were going to do the roster. They still do the rostering today. For goodness sake, they ring us up when to come to work.

PAUL Then you’ve been offered 10% wage- Then they came at you with a 10% wage offer, 20% productivity bonus offer, guaranteed 160 hours a month with the rosters sent out two months ahead. What in God’s name is wrong with that?

GARY Well, we tried to get some definitive about the rosters. We said, ‘What would they be? Would you do 160 in one week and get nothing for the next week, next week and next week?’ We wanted some form across the board where people knew what they were doing.

PAUL 160 hours a month. They’re not going to get you to do 160 in a week.

GARY Of course, but they’re packed up into whatever at one time.

PAUL But fours into 160 goes 40.

GARY Yeah, but you don’t get 40. Other ports work like that. You don’t get 40. They work you when they want you, and they leave you want they don’t want you.

PAUL In the end, also the union objects to the company contracting out. This has been a big sore point for the union, right?

GARY Yes.

PAUL I don’t understand this, because in the collective agreement you’ve had for the past few years, the Ports of Auckland can contract out, and they do so. Why are you so adamant they should be denied that?

GARY They can contract out, but the clause in the document doesn’t say they can contract out. The clause in the document talks about what happens when they contract out. It’s all about contingent liability, how they pay out people their redundancy payments and their payments. It’s formula for how it happens if it happens.

PAUL Do you believe this whole thing is about trying to reduce the amount of wages paid to the workers on the Ports of Auckland?

GARY Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure what they’re after. It’s very hard to know what they’re after.

PAUL Well, for six months you might have found out, mightn’t you?

GARY Well, we’ve been in mediation for all that time trying to find out. And while we’ve been in mediation, they’ve been advertising our jobs in Australia. While we’ve been in mediation, they’re now making our people redundant-

PAUL You’ve been on 12 strikes.

GARY I wouldn’t call that good-faith bargaining.

PAUL Well, Gary, nor perhaps would people call 12 strikes good-faith bargaining either.

GARY The 12 strikes were because we’ve got to protect our members, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

PAUL Okay, but they weren’t going to lay anyone off; they’re just changing the conditions, weren’t they?

GARY Yes, they were changing the conditions for employment.

PAUL You want the mayor- I think you said yesterday you want the mayor of Auckland to get off his jacksie and do a bit more.

GARY Yeah, I would like that.

PAUL Do you think he’s being remiss?

GARY I think, well, the people of Auckland own the port, and the mayor is the mayor looking after the interests of the people of Auckland, and we believe he should do a little bit more than he’s doing. We believe there’s still a deal there, and maybe if people step and be a bit more helpful, there is a deal.

PAUL Thank you, Mr Parsloe. Now, I shall put that to the mayor when he comes along. Now, very quickly, are you expecting is this the- is this all over?

GARY No, this is only the start of it. We had- you said 3000, but there’s about 5000 of the community marching down Queen Street.

PAUL Do you expect international action, international support?

GARY The international have this under the microscope. They most certainly have. And those 5000 people don’t like the way that the people, that the workers of Auckland are being bashed around, and there’s a message in that. Because there’s only 300 of us, and yet 5000 people took to the streets yesterday.

PAUL Mm. Gary Parsloe, president of the Maritime Union of New Zealand, thank you very much for your time. Richard Pearson, you are the chairman of Ports of Auckland. Have you been bashing up the workers?

RICHARD PEARSON – Ports of Auckland Ltd

Absolutely not, Paul.

PAUL Why have you failed to reach an agreement after six months of this?

RICHARD Paul, it’s longer than six months. We started this process at the beginning of last year – all the consultation, all the negotiations that were going on. The collective came to its end in September. We started negotiating the collective in August. We’ve been through a hundred hours plus of negotiation, mediation, and we’ve got absolutely nowhere. The problem is-

PAUL But isn’t-?

RICHARD We just were not delivered the changes that we required, Paul.

PAUL Isn’t it a truism, in a way, of industrial relations that if you’re nowhere in a negotiation after six months, it’s a plague on both your houses?

RICHARD Well, from my perspective, Paul, I came into this situation, and I’ve been 37 years in the container port business and ports all around the world. I have never seen such a waste of resource going on here. I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift. You know, that’s like aeroplanes flying around waiting for-

PAUL That average-26-hours business – have you had that audited?

RICHARD Absolutely.

PAUL By who?

RICHARD Ernest & Young.

PAUL Right, Ernst & Young. Do you want that union off the port? Was that the game all along?

RICHARD Not at all. We like unions. We’ve got unions already working on the port. In the outsourced model that we have with the stevedore contractors, they will have unions working for them.

PAUL So can you sit here this morning and say to us that you’ve negotiated in good faith?

RICHARD Absolutely, and I’ll give you good evidence of that-

PAUL Well, Mr Parsloe said you had fish hooks everywhere.

RICHARD No, if we had- if we were not negotiating in good faith, Paul, we would’ve actually introduced the whole outsourcing stevedoring subcontracting model before the end of the collective. During that time, the union would not have been able to strike. In good faith, we waited until the end of the discussions to give them a good chance to, and unfortunately it went over the time of the expiry of the collective. That gave them the right to strike, so I stand absolutely firm when I say to you we have abided by all rules, regulations and fairness.

PAUL Mr Pearson, how do you know that if you contract your stevedoring that’s going to improve productivity? You see, Auckland does no worse than any of the other ports in Australasia. Nowhere is madly more productive than Auckland.

RICHARD Pau l-

PAUL The Australian ports are all contracted out.

RICHARDPaul -

PAUL Melbourne does 3.1% return on equity.

RICHARD Paul, Australasia’s not the benchmark for good container-port operations around the world, with all due respect, okay? As I’ve said to you, I have never seen such a potential asset like we’ve got at Auckland that could actually run better. You know, today we’re running- Now, that port, without the MUNZ union, we’re were the IEAs, which unfortunately people are calling scabs, which I find derogatory – that port is now running at 25% faster than it was before. We have made no other change other than having people that come to work who want to work with the right attitude. That’s what I think people in Auckland want to see.

PAUL And the perception of people in Auckland might be that contracted-out stevedoring could mean worse pay and conditions for the wharfies.

RICHARD Again-

PAUL Otherwise, why would you do it, Mr Pearson?

RICHARD Paul, we’ve got them going. They’re working. 25 years Tauranga’s been working on this model, and it’s been working well. And during that time, we’ve lost 12% of our market to Tauranga. We can’t wait. We have to make this change now, and we have to make it quickly.

PAUL Now, the council wants that 12% return off the ports in five years, yes?

RICHARD That’s correct.

PAUL Is that what’s driving this?

RICHARD Not at all. That is an aspirational target, and you’ve mentioned the fact that it will be over 12 years, and it will be-

PAUL No, five years.

RICHARD Five, yes, correct, and it will be. It’s not a dividend return; it’s an equity return.

PAUL That’s right. Can you do it? Can you do 12%?

RICHARD Yes, we can.

PAUL Right. The unions call you anti-family. Have you had second thoughts about this?

RICHARD Paul, that is absolute nonsense. People talk about waiting by the phone, etc. Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead. It is absolute nonsense to say that, and all I could also say is talk to the people at Tauranga. They’re quite happy. Everything works well.

PAUL Right, a couple of quickies. Is it all over bar the shouting?

RICHARD It is all over. We’ve made the decision. We’re now into implementation. We’ve appointed the contractor, and my wish would be this: get our workers, please, workers that are on strike, come and apply for job. Don’t wait. Don’t let the people that are stopping you, and there’s a sinister little group of people down there – that’s a subject for another Q A at another time – that have been stopping these people applying for jobs. I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s unfair.

PAUL All right, just very quickly – are you worried about the ship in Sydney that the wharfies over there aren’t handling?

RICHARD No, that’ll all be covered by law.

PAUL Mr Richard Pearson, chairman of Ports of Auckland, I thank you. Gary Parsloe, I thank you again.

RICHARD Thank you very much.

Source: TVNZ Q+A

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Analysis?

Firstly, not having seen/heard the actual interview this morning, I can only go by the transcripts.  The interview between Paul Holmes and Gary Parsloe seems to have been held in a completely different manner to that between Holmes and Richard Pearson.

1. In his opening introduction, Holmes starts of with,  “So with me in the studio this morning are the Maritime Union head Gary Parsloe and the Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson“. Note that Holmes refers to Richard Pearson as the “Ports of Auckland Chairman” – Pearson’s correct title.

2. He does not offer the same courtesy to  Gary Parsloe, and refers to him as “the Maritime Union head” – instead of Parsloe’s correct title; National President. The stage is set for an imbalanced encounter.

3. Interviewing Gary Parsloe involved in-depth questions and numerous follow-up questions, which probed Parsloe’s responses.

4. Interviewing Richard Pearson involved questions such as;

Why have you failed to reach an agreement after six months of this?”

Pearson responds. No follow-up probing.

Isn’t it a truism, in a way, of industrial relations that if you’re nowhere in a negotiation after six months, it’s a plague on both your houses?

Pearson responds. Again, no follow up probing.

That average-26-hours business – have you had that audited?”

Pearson responds with one word; “Absolutely”.

Holmes askes a follow-up question; “By who?”

Pearson answeers, simply, “Ernest & Young

Holmes’ response; “Right, Ernst & Young.

Pardon? Holmes accepts the response with an affirmation, as if Pearson answered a quizz problem correctly? (The only thing missing was a “Well done, old chap!”!!

Then, next question, “Right, Ernst & Young. Do you want that union off the port? Was that the game all along? “

Pearson responds with an astonishing, “Not at all. We like unions. We’ve got unions already working on the port. In the outsourced model that we have with the stevedore contractors, they will have unions working for them. “

Pearson “likes unions”?!  At this stage, Holmes should have followed up with a question seeking clarification as to how Pearson can “like” unions when his Board has failed to come to a negotiated settlement;  sacked 300 workers; and paid tens of thousands of dollars in full-page newspaper advertising.

But Pearson major slip was, “…we have with the stevedore contractors, they will have unions working for them. ” Unions do not “work for” companies or contractors – unions work for their members.

The following exchange also seemed to be little more than “patsy” questions,

PAUL So can you sit here this morning and say to us that you’ve negotiated in good faith?

RICHARD Absolutely, and I’ll give you good evidence of that-

PAUL Well, Mr Parsloe said you had fish hooks everywhere.

Pearson replied with a glib answer stating that “we have abided by all rules, regulations and fairness”.

Again, no follow up question.

At this point, Holmes should have questioned Pearson about the leaked memo from POAL which outlined, months in advance,  POAL’s agenda to oust Union presence on Auckland’s wharves.  Holmes made no reference to that damning document, and instead went off on a tangeant about productivity levels on other ports.

Towards the end of the “interview”,  Pearson again slips up, when he states,

Paul, that is absolute nonsense. People talk about waiting by the phone, etc. Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead. It is absolute nonsense to say that, and all I could also say is talk to the people at Tauranga. They’re quite happy. Everything works well. “

That statement is a flat-out contradiction of Pearson’s earlier assertion, at the beginning of the interview, where he makes the claim that,

Well, from my perspective, Paul, I came into this situation, and I’ve been 37 years in the container port business and ports all around the world. I have never seen such a waste of resource going on here. I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift. You know, that’s like aeroplanes flying around waiting for- “

On the one hand, Pearson claims that “I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift” – and then goes on to contradict that claim by stating that “Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead“.

5. I think we know where Holmes’ allegiance lies.

Then we had the interview with Auckland Mayor, Len Brown, which seemed to ask more probing questions than with Pearson, and delved deeply into the Mayor’s motivations. Which is ironic really, as Pearson would have had more to do with, and deeper  insights into, the dispute than Brown would have.

Holmes was asking the wrong person the hard questions…

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Q+A: Transcript of Paul Holmes interview with Len Brown

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Auckland Mayor Len Brown

PAUL How much responsibility for these redundancies at the Ports of Auckland lies with the mayor and

the council?  Ports of Auckland is owned by the council via its investment company, Auckland Council Investments Ltd, and the council’s told the port to double its dividend from 6% to 12% over the next five years.  The Maritime Union says the mayor should step in as mediator.  You heard Gary Parsloe say that.  Labour, Mana and the Greens have also called on the mayor to take a stand.  Len Brown, the mayor of Auckland, is with us this morning.  Good morning.

LEN BROWN – Auckland Mayor

Morning, Paul.

PAUL Is it your fault 300 men have been made redundant?

LEN  No, but I certainly can’t be accused of not making a stand.  Over the last eight months, I’ve been working within the framework that I can.  I won’t run the port out of my office, but I have been dealing with both parties during the course of this discussion.

PAUL Well, can I say the perception is you’ve been doing nothing?

LEN  Well, you know, as I say, there are some things that I can do and I will not run the port out of my office.  I will say to you, though, for the last eight months, I have been giving direction, giving my view in terms of where they should be, and I wanted to see the resolution out of a collective.  They have not got there.  I’m not happy with that outcome.  What I am here to say is that-
 
PAUL I heard you say to me- Did you say-?  Could the union have settled earlier, do you believe?
 
LEN  Of course.

PAUL Yeah.

LEN Absolutely.  They could’ve settled on the first offer.

PAUL Yes. 

LEN  And that’s past in history.  What is now possible is my view is I am happy to continue to be in the position of providing mediation if both parties agree.
 
PAUL Well, it hasn’t worked so far, has it?
 
LEN  No, but-

PAUL Why hasn’t it?

LEN  But that offer-
 
PAUL Why hasn’t it?

LEN  Because-
 
PAUL Why hasn’t mediation worked?
 
LEN  Every time they sat down, their view to me- both parties’ view is we’re really close.  In fact, Gary was saying to me, ‘On Thursday we think that we are going to deal with this and finish it.’  So every step of the way, the indication had been was that they were going to resolve.

PAUL Whose side are you on?

LEN  I’m on Auckland’s side.
 
PAUL Yes, but-

LEN  And by that, I mean that we are the 1.5 million Aucklanders, we own the shares, and as a consequence of that, I’m looking after their interests.  I want that port to be successful.  I certainly want a greater return on our investment-
 
PAUL Let’s talk about that shortly, but I wondered about your position because you have said and I quote you, ‘We deserve a port that’s competitive, a decent return for ratepayers and a settlement that is sustainable.’  That sounds like the port’s position, Mr Mayor.
 
LEN  No, it sounds like our position – our position, the council’s position and the position of any Aucklanders.  Look, my commitment during the campaign was not selling the ports; we will hold the port shares.  Secondly, we wanted the ports to be more commercial and present a much better return for ratepayers.

PAUL And that return, of course, the figure that you’ve come up with is you want an increase from 6.3% I think it is at the moment.

LEN  Yeah.
 
PAUL After tax.

LEN  12% over five years in terms of return on investment.
 
PAUL Where did you get the 12% from?  Pluck it out of the air?
 
LEN  No-

PAUL There’s not a port in Australasia, Mr Brown, making 12%.

LEN  So our view was, though, that the port was not performing as well as it was.  Now, you’ve heard Mr Pearson say it’s an aspirational target.  What we’re saying to the port is this is our view.  We believe as a consequence of the assessments that we’ve done within the  council-
 
PAUL Well, how firm are you on this?  Have you laid down the law on the 12%?

LEN  We have given it to them in our statement of corporate intent.  Right at the start of the year, I went down to the port, met all the workers and the employees and the company directors down there and said, ‘Right, this is what we’re expecting from the port.’  And we had an hour’s Q & A-
 
PAUL This is what we’re expecting.  Is this-?  I mean, were you laying the law about the return you want in five years – 12%?
 
LEN  We were laying down the law in terms of what we expected from the port in terms of its return and in terms of its performance generally.

PAUL Where did you get the 12%?

LEN  So, the 12% was an estimate, a view that certainly I’ve been working on for right through the last sort of 18 months, two years.  It was view that was discussed our own table with the officers, with our own council-
 
PAUL So it’s a guess?  It’s a good guess?

LEN  No, it’s an estimate.
 
PAUL (laughs)
 
LEN  This is what we think we should be aiming to achieve.  And so we went back to the company and said, ‘Okay, this where we think you should be.  What is your advice back to us?’  Their advice was, ‘Give us five years and we believe that we can receive that.’

PAUL Well, excuse me, look at this.  Okay, 12%, that’s your estimate – guesstimate.  Tauranga returns 6.8%, Lyttelton 8.6%, Sydney 6.7%, Melbourne 3.1%, Auckland 6% — 6.3% after tax.

LEN  So not just about return either-
 
PAUL Where’s the 12% being made anywhere?

LEN  It’s about competitiveness against other ports.  So we are losing share against Tauranga.  We are competing flat out against Brisbane, in particular, and Sydney.  It was our desire that we wanted the port to be much much stronger in terms of its-
 
PAUL Do you endorse what Mr Pearson was saying about he cannot believe the waste of resource at the Ports of Auckland?
 
LEN  Look, there’s a whole lots of things that we cannot believe about the performance of the Ports of Auckland, so it just was not about-

PAUL Can I just say to you again-?

LEN  a stronger return on investment.
 
PAUL Can I just say to you again there is a perception that you’ve abnegated leadership, that you’ve been a do-nothing mayor?  For God’s sake, you are the mayor of Auckland, Ports of Auckland is owned by the people of Auckland, you are the boss.  Harry Truman – you might remember the story – had a little thing on his desk that said ‘the buck stops here’.  Why don’t it stop with you?

LEN  The buck does stop here, but I’m also the mayor of the city.  I’m not the prime minister.  I don’t have sovereign power, so I’m operating within a statutory framework, and I’m doing the very best that I can within that statutory framework.
 
PAUL And very quick, Mr Mayor, is it all over bar the shouting?
 
LEN  No.  What I’ve said to you today is that my offer today is that I’m happy to sit with both parties in agreement in a mediator process if they are prepared to continue to meet and deal with the-

PAUL He says it’s all over bar the shouting – Mr Pearson.

LEN  Mr Pearson is the chair of the board; this is my offer right here in front of you.
 
PAUL Mr Len Brown, mayor of Auckland, thank you very much for your time.

LEN  A pleasure speaking to you today.

Source: TVNZ Q+A

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The Maritime Union has welcomed Len Brown’s offer of mediation, as stated on ‘Scoop‘,

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The Maritime Union has warmly welcomed an offer of mediation from the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown, and the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, made publicly over the last two days.

Today on current affairs programme Q+A the Mayor said he wanted to step in to the dispute between the parties to find a solution.

“The Mayor’s offer in particular is extremely important as the Council is the owner of the Ports, and we believe it is now being wrecked by the Ports board,” said Garry Parsloe, Maritime Union of New Zealand National President.

“We will meet any time any day with any decent offer to get this issue resolved”.

On Friday Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Auckland offered their leadership in a spirit of reconciliation to help resolve the dispute.

The bishops said they were concerned for the welfare of workers and their families, and for the future of the waterfront industry, and that they were willing also to work with city leaders to find a solution.

Garry Parsloe said the bishops’ offer was a generous one.

“We’ll warmly welcome the help of the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops,” he said.

“They have demonstrated they understand that at its core, this dispute is about people and their lives.”

“Our deep concern during these negotiations has been the impact the proposed changes from Ports management would have on our members’ job security and their ability to prioritise time with their families and other commitments outside work.”

“It is in the interests of everyone in Auckland to resolve this dispute in a way that protects secure jobs and ensures a sustainable and successful Ports of Auckland.”

“We hope Ports management will take kindly to the offer also, and respect the role of the Council as the owners of the Ports and the importance of the offer from the Mayor,” Garry Parsloe said.

Source: Scoop.co.nz

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Unfortunately, the Board of POAL – which now seems to be a rogue entity and a power unto itself, has flat out rejected Brown’s offer of mediation,

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But Ports of Auckland chairperson Richard Pearson says it is too late for that.

He says the decision to outsource the stevedoring contractors has already been made and implemented.

“They are already appointed and we cannot go back on that, that is irrevocable”, he says.

Mr Pearson says he would like the mayor instead to persuade the workers to apply for the new roles.

Source: Radio NZ

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WTF?!?! What did we just hear???

Did Richard Pearson just tell his boss, Len Brown, “No, I’m not doing it”?!

This in a bizarre state of affairs; the Chairman of the Board of POAL has just told the Mayor of Auckland – which owns POAL – to naff off !!!

As I have maintained in previous blogposts, POAL is out of control.

I think we now have the proof we need.

Auckland City Council must take firm action at an upcoming meeting on Thursday,  which I am informed by someone closely connected to events – will have a decisive outcome to events.

Crunchtime: 15 March.

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Additional

Ports of Auckland Labour Strategy (leaked memo)

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= fs =

10 March – Today was a True Labour Day!

11 March 2012 7 comments

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Yesterday, thousands of ordinary folk -  many from overseas – marched through the streets of Auckland in protest at unfair treatment, and in support of maritime workers. The numbers ranged from 2,000 to  3,000  to 5,000 to simply  ‘thousands‘ – but regardless how many took to the streets, it was a grand effort,

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Workers, families and supporters of Auckland's port workers who are currently striking over working conditions, make their way along the waterfront in protest at being made redundant by the company.

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The March was a testament to the sense of fairplay and support for the underdog, that many New Zealanders hold dear and cherish as a value.

And it will continue to grow.  When citizens discover the raw power that they wield, they use it to stunning effect. Just ask any dictator in the Middle East , or former leaders from Soviet-era Eastern Europe.

This industrial bonfire has been sparked by a Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) Board and CEO, Tony Gibson, who have engaged in dishonest tactics; unprofessional behaviour; a sham negotiation process; and are now wasting tens of thousands of ratepayers’ dollars on full page ads in the Herald  (which are nothing more than one-sided propaganda).

But it’s hardly surprising really, that Gibson is trying to destroy the Maritime Union and de-unionise the port. A de-unionised workforce is cheaper and more readily exploited for port companies and shipping lines – shipping lines like Maersk, which have been playing off Auckland and Tauranga Ports against each other.

Maersk – the shipping company  Tony Gibson used to work for,

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Source

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No divided loyalities or conflict of interest there, I hope, Mr Gibson?

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* * *

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Meanwhile, true loyalties were expressed when local Auckland councillors, Community Board members, Members of Parliament, and  unionists came from around the world to support port workers and their families.

Photos courtesy of various good people who were fortunate to attend the March (I am so incredibly envious!!!) and presented in no particular sequential order,

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Greg Presland, Denise Yates, chair of the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Patricia M Reade, Julie Fairey, Michael Wood and Leau Peter Skelton. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Labour Party; Moira Coatsworth, Darien Fenton, Phil Twyford, David Cunliffe, Sua William Sio, Moana Mackey, Charles Chauvel, and Megan Woods. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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10 March - Aucklanders support port workers. (No acknowledgement details available)

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Denise Roche, David Shearer, Sally Wilson, Moira Coatsworth, Darien Fenton, Phil Twyford, David Cunliffe, Sua William Sio, Jacinda Ardern, Moana Mackey, Andrew Little, Charles Chauvel, Megan Woods and Louisa Wall Labour Manurewa. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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David Shearer, Labour Leader, speaking on the mound. In front of him, a crowd of thousands gathers to support MUNZ workers. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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CTU President, Helen Kelly (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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The tide has turned and it is sad - Michael Wood and Enzo Giordani. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Mana Party's flag (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Garry Parsloe, President of MUNZ. We're in this for the long haul- oh yes we are. With Carol Beaumont, Helen Kelly, David Shearer, Moira Coatsworth, and Darien Fenton. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Thousands march!(Acknowledgement for photo: save our ports.com)

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Labour's Sunny Kaushal, Charles Chauvel, David Cunliffe and Carmel Sepuloni. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Really happy to be supporting MUNZ workers. Really upset at the Mayor I campaigned for. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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The Workers' Haka! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Helen Kelly, President of the Council of Trade Unions, makes her point. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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An Auckland Citizen making her feelings known! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Nga Ringa Tota - Len Richards and Jill Ovens. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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With Anahila Lose Suisuiki and Josephine Bartley. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Somewhat to the point, I believe. A call from the people that their leader should lead! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Kate Sutton and Richard Hills at 10 March rally for workers. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Meat Workers do the Haka. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Fighting for our children - this is what it's all about! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Kymberley Inu at the march. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Is it me.. or does David Cunliffe look like that bloke from "Gladiator"? Quick, someone give him a sword, shield, and Union Agreement and send him into POAL's Boardroom! There - sorted!! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Supporting Auckland port workers - 10 March (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Solidarity with Port Workers! David Cunliffe second from right. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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"mum and dad" New Zealanders who demand better treatment for our fellow workers - before everyone buggers off to Australia! (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Speakers at the March to support Auckland Port workers - Denise Roach in green. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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ACT's representation on the March! (No acknowledgement details available)

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With Tele'a Andrews at the march. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Community Board representatives, Leau Peter Skelton and Tafafuna'i Tasi Lauese; Labour MP Louisa Wall (at back); and Labour MP, Sua William Sio. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Anahila Lose Suisuiki, Josephine Bartley, Moana Mackey, Megan Woods and Richard Hills. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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With Green Party MP, Denise Roche and Ray Familathe, International Transport Workers Federation representative. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Labour MPs Ross Robertson, Louisa Wall Labour Manurewa and Sua William Sio. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Megan Woods and Moana Mackey. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Folks are p----d off, and they ain't going to take it no more! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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New Zealanders who've had a gutsful at the way we treat our fellow workers. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Those at the center of this dispute; workers and their families. (Acknowledgement for photo: Save Our Port.Com)

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- Roll Call of Honour -

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Members of Parliament

Jacinda Ardern, MP, Labour

Charles Chauvel, MP, Labour

David Cunliffe, MP, Labour

Darien Fenton,  MP, Labour

Hone Harawira, MP, Mana Party leader

Parekura Horomia, MP, Labour

Andrew Little, MP, Labour

Moana Mackey, MP, Labour

Nanaia Mahuta, MP, Labour

Sue Moroney, MP, Labour

Ross Robertson, MP, Labour

Denise Roche, MP, Green Party

David Shearer, MP, Labour leader

Sua William Sio, MP, Labour

Rino Tirakatene, MP, Labour

Phil Twyford, MP, Labour

Louisa Wall, MP, Labour

Megan Woods, MP, Labour

Auckland City Councillors

Cathy Casey

Sandra Coney

Mike Lee

Community Board Members

Josephine Bartley, Tamaki Subdivision of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board

Leila Boyle, Tamaki Subdivision of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board

Shale Chambers, Waitemata Local Board

Christopher Dempsey, Waitemata Local Board

Julie Fairey,  Puketapapa Local Board

Graeme Easte, Albert-Eden Local Board

Catherine Farmer, Whau Local Board

Grant Gillon, Kaipatiki Local Board

Peter Haynes,  Albert-Eden Local Board

Richard Hills, Kaipatiki Local Board

Vivienne Keohane, Kaipatiki Local Board

Tafafuna’i Tasi Lauese, Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board

Simon Mitchell, Albert-Eden Local Board

Greg Presland, Waitakere Ranges Local Board

Patricia M Reade, Waitemata Local Board

Leau Peter Skelton, Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board

Lydia Sosene,  Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board

Michael Wood,  Puketapapa Local Board

Denise Yates, chair of the Waitakere Ranges Local Board

International Trade Unionists

Ray Familathe, International Transport Workers Federation representative

Mauro Viera, Sydney stevedore

& many others!

Young Activist Heroes!

NZ First Youth

And last, and most important,

The People of Auckland who Marched!

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* * *

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Additional

Fairfax: Thousands march in support of port workers

TV3:  John Campbell interviews Auckland Mayor Len Brown

TV3: Unions band together against ‘vicious employers’

TV3:  Mana, Greens, Labour join ports rally

TVNZ: Thousands rally for sacked Ports workers

TVNZ: Port dispute ‘causing ripples’ overseas

TVNZ: Port’s growth target questioned

TVNZ: Q+A: Transcript of Paul Holmes interview with Len Brown

Metro: Every Storm in the Port

Matt McCarten/NZ Herald: Mayor’s leadership feeling the strain

Brian Rudman/NZ Herald: Mayor’s paralysis in port dispute leaves role of leader vacant

Auckland Now:  Shipping firm quits port amid protest

NZ Herald:  Auckland, Tauranga ports ‘cutting each other’s throats’ – Mike Lee

NZ Herald: Noisy march gives heart to wharfies

NZ Herald:  C-words that don’t help anyone except bosses

 

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Other Blog Reports

Dimpost: Destroying the village to make it more efficient

Dimpost:  ‘We’re going on a journey . . .’

The Jackalman: Richard Pearson – Asshole of the Week

Tumeke:  In defense (and immediate criticism) of Mayor Scab Brown

Tumeke:  What was said on the protest march

Bowalley Road: Frightening The Government

Waitakere News: Len Brown and POAL – Its your time Len

Waitakere News: Is Auckland’s Port’s labour costs cheaper than Tauranga’s?

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A Slave By Any Other Name (#Rua)

10 March 2012 1 comment

Further from my Analysis of Farrar’s opinion piece on abuse of Indonesian seamen on Foreign Chartered Vessels;  A Slave By Any Other Name,

#1

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Exploitation of workers: bad

Safeguards for workers: good

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#2

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Exploitation of workers: ok

Safeguards for workers: meh

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Just clearing up Mr Farrar’s position on workers rights;  job security;  decent conditions; and fair pay.

Ok, carry on.

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Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Rua)

10 March 2012 1 comment

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Full Page advertisement in NZ Herald – three days in a row!

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If anyone remains in doubt that there is a Class War against Auckland port workers, by Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL), then doubt-no-more.

For three days in a row, POAL has purchased full page advertisements in the NZ Herald – one one of the most expensive forms of newspaper advertising in the country.

This is on top of their factually dodgy “Fact Sheet” which contains at least one outright lie; Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports.

One wonder how the Board and CEO (Tony Gibson) can get away spending tens of thousands of dollars of company money on these adverts? This is revenue from POAL that should either have been used to upgrade the company; pay the workers’ salaries; or paid to Auckland City Council as a dividend.

Is this legal?

Is it acceptable use of company money?

And what does Auckland City Council and Len Brown have to say about POAL money being used in this manner?

I’ve stated this before, and will repeat it again; POAL CEO Tony Gibson and Board, are out of control.

Auckland City Council must reign in this rogue management – or sack them and appoint a new Board of Directors, and new CEO.

And if Auckland City Council and Len Brown decide that the Board and CEO must be relieved of their duties – then no ‘golden parachute‘!

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1.  Sack the Board and CEO of Ports of Auckland Ltd!

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2.  Appoint a new Board and CEO of Ports of Auckland Ltd!

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3.  Reinstate the sacked maritime workers!

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4.  Engage in meaningful negotiations!

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5.  Len Brown: End this farce now!

 

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* * *

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Additional

Ports of Auckland protest action reaches Sydney

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Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Tahi)

10 March 2012 1 comment

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In the battle for hearts and minds of Aucklanders and other New Zealanders; to win support for their respective cause; both the Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) and port workers through their Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ), have published on-line web-pages of fact sheets.

The POAL “fact Sheet” demands a measure of scrutiny. The details are reprinted here in full,

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1. What action has the Port announced it will be taking?

Ports of Auckland has decided to move to a competitive stevedoring model for the provision of all stevedoring services at the Port. This follows an in-depth consultation process and evaluation of options for materially increased productivity at the Port.

2. Will this be the first time that the Port has contracted in stevedoring?

No. The Port has used externally employed stevedores in several areas of its operation in the past (cargo/container marshalling, cruise ship operations and multi-cargo). Those services have proven to be safe, secure, productive and commercially attractive.

3. What will change as a result of the action being taken?

Ports of Auckland will now continue consultation with employees and unions about the implementation of this decision. It is likely that stevedores who work as Port employees will be offered redundancy from their existing positions. However, they will have the opportunity to apply for new positions with the stevedoring companies.

4. What makes competitive stevedoring superior to the way the Port has been working in the past?

Competitive stevedoring has been used at the best performing ports for many years. It is a proven strategy to achieve much needed flexibility and higher levels of labour utilisation vital to providing business continuity, improved customer service and a successful long-term operation.

As the Productivity Commission (see http://www.productivity.govt.nz) noted in its recent report, most New Zealand ports are facing similar challenges with a need to lift productivity and labour flexibility.

5. Who are the contractors?

We are unable to disclose the parties we are negotiating with for commercial reasons. We are continuing to negotiate with several parties, with a view to appointing three competing stevedoring companies on, or about the 9 March.

6. What benefits will competitive stevedoring deliver?

Companies with a key focus on stevedoring will operate at the Port. This will guarantee access to a flexible, innovative and competitive workforce and will mean the Port can significantly reduce unsustainable labour cost inefficiencies through materially higher labour utilisation rates.

This in turn allows the Port to move forward with its aspirations to deliver a better service to its customers, become a best-performing port in the Asia-Pacific region, and much improved returns to Aucklanders on their investment in the Port.

7. How soon can competitive stevedoring begin to be implemented?

The Port will appoint contractor companies shortly which will be responsible for supplying all of the stevedoring labour needed.

The Port expects that with a continuous improvement programme in place it will become a best-practice port in the Asia-Pacific region over the next two years.

With the significant productivity improvements seen from non-Union staff at the Port in recent weeks the Port is confident this aspirational goal can be achieved.

8. So what productivity gains have you been able to achieve with a flexible roster?

At present, due to the strike by MUNZ members, the terminal stevedoring work is being completed by non-Union staff. These stevedores are all employed on a more flexible basis than that set out in the current collective agreement with MUNZ. Due to the increased flexibility and utilisation rate, these stevedores are breaking productivity records previously achieved at the Port.

9. How will the competitive stevedoring work in practice?

We anticipate that the Port will allocate schedules of work for up to four weeks in advance to each of the stevedoring companies. Each company will then be individually responsible for managing their respective workforce to carry out that work in line with stringent operational standards including health and safety.

10. How long will it take for competitive stevedoring to deliver improved productivity benefits?

Once implemented the Port confidently expects competitive stevedoring will deliver significantly improved productivity benefits within a 12-month period. With the significant productivity improvements seen from staff at the Port during the current strike the Port is confident this aspirational goal can be achieved.

11. How many staff will be affected by this decision?

Up to 292 employees, mainly stevedores, will be immediately affected by the decision. Although stevedoring staff will have the opportunity to apply for new positions with the stevedoring companies.

12. Why has the decision-making process taken this amount of time?

In January the Port announced it would consult with staff, the Union and prospective stevedoring companies, while at the same time continuing its negotiations with MUNZ on the Collective Agreement. As the proposal involves a significant restructuring at the Port, the company wanted to ensure it was considering all points of view before making such an important decision. It is required by employment legislation and legal precedent to undertake a rigorous and lengthy process of consultation and evaluation before making any decision.

13. Is the competitive stevedoring model being introduced for Auckland the same as the one at Port of Tauranga?

Yes, it is substantially the same.

14. So, is greater health and safety risk a problem under this model?

No. Competing stevedoring companies in Auckland will be required to adhere to Ports of Auckland’s rigorous health and safety protocols; and will also have their own policies and procedures, which will result in better health and safety procedures.

15. Isn’t this the decision you were planning to make all along?

No, we’ve made it clear all along that our intention was to work collaboratively with our staff and the Union to find performance improvements which would address productivity issues at the Port.

The Port has a right to introduce competing stevedores under the expired Collective Agreement with MUNZ. If we had thought we would be unable to reach a satisfactory solution through collective bargaining, we could have made the decision before the current agreement expired.

16. Why has this not happened earlier?

At one level, the new governance structure in Auckland has resulted in a greater commercial focus on the Port’s performance, and a recognition of the Port’s significant role in the regional economy. At another level, the global financial crisis has resulted in changes in the structure and expectations of the global shipping industry, which has highlighted issues with the Port’s efficiency and service delivery. This was confirmed by the loss of the Maersk Southern Star service in December 2011. A step change is needed for the Port to remain competitive.

17. Will competitive stevedoring result in ‘casualisation’?

No. By definition casualisation only occurs when employment shifts the balance of full-time, part-time and casual positions. We anticipate that stevedoring companies’ labour requirements will continue to be for mostly full-time permanent roles as at present.

18. Is this about privatisation?

No. This decision is focussed solely on securing Ports of Auckland’s future, to delivering an appropriate return to Aucklanders on their current investment, and ensuring the Port continues to make a positive contribution to the Auckland economy well into the future.

The Mayor has made it clear publicly the Port is not for sale. Any major decision like this would be up to Auckland Council to decide.

19. Does this mean the Port will proceed with the expansion plans people are talking about?

Under the Auckland Planning process the Port has only been looking to preserve its existing development envelope, nothing more. The Port is comfortable with the proposed wording for the Auckland Plan and the Council’s decision to conduct a review of the Port’s role.

In fact lifting current labour productivity by a conservative 20% would give us the equivalent of two new berths, allowing the Port to accommodate five extra ship calls each week.

Improving labour utilisation is only one of the priority changes we intend to make. Implementation of new technologies, and better co-ordination across upper North Island ports will support greatly improved competitiveness and performance across the supply chain.

20. How was the union informed about the proposal for this new way of working?

The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) received a letter from Ports of Auckland about the proposal on 9 January 2012 and our first consultation meeting to present details about the proposal to MUNZ was on 20 January. The purpose of that meeting – as stated in a Ports of Auckland media release at the time – was to enable MUNZ to facilitate meaningful consultation with its members on the potential impacts of the proposal. Ports of Auckland and MUNZ have subsequently met on several occasions as part of this process.

21. Was detailed information about the proposal provided to the union?

Yes. During direct consultation with union representatives a range of documents were provided to allow the union to fully inform its members.

22. Will implementation of this change have an impact on other staff at the Port?

Yes. Over the coming months we will complete a full organisation review to ensure we realise substantial and lasting changes in operating and financial efficiencies. That review will also impact a large number of staff working in corporate, administration and operational areas at the Port. They too might find jobs in the new structure.

23. So how will the process work from here?

The competing stevedore companies will be confirmed on, or about 9 March, with a likelihood of commencing operations in late April.

We will begin a process of consultation on redundancies with affected staff from 9 March. This will focus on the finer details, including who is affected, what their options will be, and the support we will provide them through the process.

Affected staff will have the opportunity to apply for new positions with the stevedoring companies, and the Port will be doing what it can to facilitate staff applying for new positions, and provide employee assistance and support through the process.

Source

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Two glaring points stand out immediatly from the above “Fact Sheet”,

One:

3. What will change as a result of the action being taken?

Ports of Auckland will now continue consultation with employees and unions about the implementation of this decision. It is likely that stevedores who work as Port employees will be offered redundancy from their existing positions. However, they will have the opportunity to apply for new positions with the stevedoring companies.

Specifically;  “It is likely that stevedores who work as Port employees will be offered redundancy from their existing positions“.

The wording of that statement is nothing less than an outright lie. Port workers were not “offered redundancy” – POAL forced redundancy upon nearly 300 workers,

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Full Story

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As the Herald story details, port workers were not “offered” redundancy – with Ports of Auckland Chairman Richard Pearson saying,

This decision has not been made lightly, but we believe it is vital to ensuring a successful and sustainable future for the Port, including protecting jobs over the long term.”

One wonders how ‘factual’ the rest of their ‘Fact’ Sheet actually is. It certainly damages POAL’s credibility to present their version of the  ‘truth’  to the public.

Which begs the question; what is POAL telling their shareholder, the Auckland City Council?

Two:

POAL released previous “factsheets”  claiming that maritime workers were being paid $91,000 p.a.

Yet, POAL’s own figures (see table “Hourly Rates” above) clearly states that the hourly rate for a stevedore is $27.26 an hour.

This translate to,

$27.26 x 40 hours = $1,090.40 per week (before tax).

$1,090.40 per week  x 52 weeks = $56,700.80 p.a. (before tax).

With overtime, meal allowances, shift allowances, port workers can certainly earn more. Then again, unloading a ship at 3am in the morning, in the middle of winter, with a cold southerly blasting across the country – whilst the rest of us are snugged up in bed with the electric blanket on full throttle, kind of puts things into perspective.

By contrast, Statistics NZ states,

Between the June 2010 and June 2011 quarters:

Median weekly income for those receiving income from wages and salaries was $800 (up 4.0 percent)

It is interesting that the salaries of Board members and CEO Tony Gibson is  not disclosed in the above table of Hourly Rates. In fact, Gibson is paid $750,000 p.a. for his job. That’s $14,423.08 per week (gross), or, $360 an hour.

Gibson responds,

Frankly, I don’t do this for the money. I do it because I’m very passionate about the organisation and change, and I think we can really make a difference.”

If Gibson doesn’t ‘do this for the money‘, he must be doing it for pure enjoyment?

Making nearly 300 workers redundant and contracting their jobs out to scab labour – yeah, that’s worth a belly-laugh. You’re a regular comedian,  Tony.

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Previous Blogposts

A job! A job! My kingdom for a job!

A media release I would love to see from Len Brown

A Slave By Any Other Name

Workers lose their jobs – Day of Shame!

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Workers lose their jobs – Day of Shame!

7 March 2012 5 comments

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This is a day of shame for New Zealand.

When workers can be sacked and their jobs replaced with “contractors”, it means that workers have lost all rights to job security; fairness in negotiations; and basic concepts of justice.

New Zealand has become a quasi-fascist country. I hope to god that international trade unions slap a total shipping boycott on this country. Just as our trade unions supported workers’ rights in other countries such as South Africa and Chile, we now require the support of free trade unions from around the world.

New Zealand must be isolated until the Ports of Auckland Board and CEO Tony Gibson are sacked.

This is nothing less than an attack on workers – as happened in Poland in December 1981, under their communist regime.

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The time for negotiations has long passed. Employers – whether AFFCO or PoAL – have no intention to negotiate.

If employers can treat “Good faith bargaining” as a sham then workers need to fight fire-with-fire. The time for reasonable negotiations has finished; employers aren’t interested, so why should we play their ‘game’?

It’s time to play hard-ball;

1. Ignore Court orders to return to work.
2. A return to wild-cat strikes as a tactic.
3. Send an urgent request for international assistance.

If workers lose this one, it will be the 1980s/90s all over again.

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Addendum

Message posted on John Key’s Facebook page,

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I’m sure Dear Leader would welcome your comments, as well.

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And messages for Len Brown can be left here, on his Facebook page,

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* * * Update! * * *

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Blogger makes Appeal to Solidarnosc for Support!

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Additional

Firefighters to join port protest rally

Firefighters could be next for union action


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Why did the Kiwi cross The Ditch?

6 March 2012 3 comments

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During the Cold War, Eastern Europeans used to “vote with their feet” and escape to the West. Often that migration was done at great personal risk to themselves and their families.

The Poles, Hungarians, Czecks, East Germans, et al, who crossed from the Eastern European Zone did so in search of freedom – political, economic, and social. For them, the repression in their home nations was sufficient motivation to up-root and leave behind family and friends, in search of something better.

Whilst the risk isn’t quite the same for us (no armed border guards; semi-rabid guard dogs; sentry towers with searchlights and machine-gun posts), New Zealanders are still voting with their feet,
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Full Story

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Unlike their Eastern European cuzzies, New Zealanders are not leaving simply to improve their financial lot (though that certainly plays a major part).

I believe there is much more involved in the psychology behind this migration.

Since the Rogernomics New Right “reforms” of the late 1980s, New Zealand  has been socially re-engineered. New, neo-liberalistic values of obeisance for wealth; state sector “efficiency”; low taxes; minimal government;  user pays in many, previously free social services; and a quasi-religious intolerance of those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale who are left behind in the mad scramble for money and status.

A new creed of Personal Good trumps Social Needs, and Individual Rights/Needs trumps Community Well-being.

It is a New Right puritanism that demands solo-mothers (but not solo-fathers) “go out to work” -  blind to the concept of raising a family as being a vital form of work.

It is the demand for Individual Rights to have 24/7 access to alcohol – irrespective of harm caused to society (see BERL report) and the eventual cost to tax-payers.

It is the craven reverance shown to 150 Rich Listers who increased their wealth by a massive 20% in 2010 – whilst condemning working men and women who are struggling to keep their wages and conditions in the face of an onslaught by employers, emboldened by a right wing government. (Eg; AFFCO, Maritime Workers, ANZCO-CMP Rangitikei)

It is a nasty streak of crass, moralistic judgementalism that blames the poor for being poor; invalids for being born with a disability or suffering a crippling accident; solo-mums (but not solo-fathers) for daring to be responsible enough to raise a family; and the unemployed for being in the wrong Place/Time when the global banking crisis metastasized into a full-blown worldwide Recession, turning them from wage earning tax-payers – to one of crony capitalism’s “collateral damage”.

In all this, having a sense of community; of belonging to a wider society; and of being a New Zealander  – has been sublimated. Except for ANZAC Day; a national disaster; and when the All Blacks are thrashing the Wallabies, we show very little sense of nationalistic pride or social cohesion.

Indeed, I recall some years ago being in a 24/7 convenience store in downtown Wellington, on ANZAC Day. It was not yet 1pm, so by law alcohol could not be sold.

I noticed a customer in the store selecting a bottle of wine from the chiller and taking it to the checkout, to purchase. As per liquor laws, the checkout operator could not legally sell that bottle of wine, until after 1pm.

The operator explained that it was the law; it was ANZAC Day; and it was a mark of respect (most shops weren’t even open before 1pm).

The customer, a  fashionably-dressed young(-ish) man remonstrated with the checkout operator and said in a voice loud enough for everyone in the shop to hear; “I don’t give a shit about ANZAC Day. I just want to buy this wine.”

And that, I believe sums up our present society. That young man simply didn’t care. He  wanted something and he couldn’t believe it was being denied to him.

To him (and others like him, who usually vote ACT and/or National), all he knew was that he WANTED a THING and his right to have it, if he could pay for it, was paramount.

What does that say about a society?

Firstly, what it says is, to some folk,  a society is little more than a flimsy, abstract concept – and not much more – with ‘Society’ being subservient to the demands of the Individual.

Secondly, if Society is nothing more than an abstract concept – as one person recently wrote to me on Facebook – then there is no way whatsoever that an individual can feel a sense of “belonging”.

“Belong” to what? A geographic place on a map that happens to have a different name and colouring to another geographic place adjacent to it?

If people who happened to be born in a Geographic Area; designated “New Zealand”; coloured pale-green on the map; decide that they can earn more money in another Geographic Area; designated “Australia”; coloured ochre on the map – then moving from “A” to “B” is nothing more than a logistical exercise. Kinda like shifting house from one street to another.

When we have no concept of “society” – then people will “vote with their feet”. They simply have nothing else to consider when making a decision except solely on material factors.

An expat New Zealander, living in a Geographic Area across the Tasman Sea, told the “Dominion Post“,

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“A Victorian-based Kiwi with a student loan debt, who did not want to be named because he did not want to be found by the Government, said he did not intend to pay back any of his student loan.

The 37-year-old’s loan was about $18,000 when he left New Zealand in 1997. He expected it was now in the order of $50,000. The man was not worried about being caught as the Government did not have his details and he did not want to return to New Zealand.

“I would never live there anyway, I feel just like my whole generation were basically sold down the river by the government. I don’t feel connected at all, I don’t even care if the All Blacks win.

“I just realised it was futile living [in New Zealand] trying to pay student loans and not having any life, so I left. My missus had a student loan and she had quite a good degree and she had paid 99c off the principal of her loan after working three years.”Source

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If we extrapolate this situation to it’s logical outcome, it becomes obvious that New Zealand’s future is to become a vast training ground for the global economy, with thousand of polytechs, Universities, and other training institutions churning out hundreds of thousands of trained workers for the global economy.

Our children will be born; raised; schooled; educated; and then despatched to  another Geographic Area. It gives a whole new meaning to Kiwis “leaving the nest”.

When Finance Minister Bill English  told Radio New Zealand,
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We know roughly what the recipe is, policies that support business that want to employ and create opportunities, that provide people with skills and reward those skills.

“We are getting those in place, despite the fact that we’ve had a substantial recession. We believe we can make considerable progress over the next four to five years.” – Source

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… he was quite correct – though not quite in the way he was intending. New Zealand will “provide people with skills and reward those skills” – just not for this country.

National leader John Key, once again, was of in la-la land as usual when he said,
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Over the last three years I believe we’ve made some progress, so much that we have been closing that after-tax wage gap, we are building an economy that is now growing at a faster rate than Australia, but it will take us some time to turn that around.” – Source

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Dear Leader really should stop smoking that wacky baccy. It’s all utter rubbish of course. The economy is not “growing at a faster rate than Australia” (except in Key’s fantasies) and rather than “closing that after-tax wage gap” – it’s actually been widening.

Worse than that, employers – with support from National  – are actively engaged in a “class war” against their own employees to lower wages and to destroy workers’ rights to bargain collectively through a  Union.

The lockout of AFFCO workers  and threat by Ports of Auckland Ltd to casualise and contract out their workforce is nothing more or less than a campaign to reduce wages and increase profits for shareholders.

So much for Key’s bizarre claim “we have been closing that after-tax wage gap“. (No wonder we trust politicians at the same level as used-car salesmen.)

Not a very pretty picture… and yet that is the future we seem to be creating for ourselves.

How do we go about undoing the last 27 years of free-market, monetarist obsession?

Do New Zealanders even want to?

We should care – quite a bit, in fact.

The more skilled (and semi-skilled) people we lose to another Geographic Area, the fewer taxpayers we have remaining here.  Those taxpayers would be the ones who would be paying for our retirement; our  pension; and caring for us in Retirement Homes up and down the country.

Which means, amongst other things, that we’d better start paying Rest Home workers a more generous wage rather than a paltry $13.61 an hour  -  or else we’ll be wiping our own drool from our mouths and sitting for hours on end in damp, cold, incontinence pads. Even semi-skilled workers contribute more to our society than we realise.

If we want to instill a sense of society in our children – instead of simply living in an “economy” or Geographic Area – then we had better start re-assessing our priorities and values.

We can start with simple things.

Like; children. What is more important; a tax-cut, or providing free health-care and nutritious meals at schools for all children?

(If your answer is “Tax cut” because feeding children is an Individual and not a  Social need, then you haven’t been paying attention.)

Children who are all well-fed and healthy tend to do better at school. They learn better. They succeed. And they go on to succeed in life.

But more importantly, if society as a whole looks after all children – irrespective of whether they were lucky enough to be born into a good family,  or unlucky to be born into a stressed family of poverty and despair – then those children may, in turn look after us in decades to come.

If we want our children to feel a part of a society – our society – then we have to instill that sense of society in them at an early age.

Who knows – instilling a sense of society in all our children may achieve other desirable goals; lower crime; lower imprisonment rates; an urge to contribute more to the community;  less family stress and divorce; stronger families; less community fragmentation and alienation…

We’ve tried everything else these past three decades – and things aren’t getting better.

The focus on materialism and Individualism has not delivered a better society, higher wages, or other beneficial social and economic outcomes. Instead, many of our fellow New Zealanders are turning away and going elsewhere for a better life.

Quite simply, if people are Voting with their feet, then this is a Vote of No Confidence in our country.

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Propaganda as an industrial dispute weapon?

27 February 2012 14 comments

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Whilst the Labour Party is taking great pains to keep an impartial, neutral position on the port dispute in Auckland – the PoAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) shows no such inclination toward restrained behaviour.

According to a recent report by Fairfax Media, PoAL has taken another step to ratcheting up the dispute with a new (and somewhat bizarre) propaganda tactic,

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Full Story

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A casual check of two right wing blogs – one with strong National Party connections – yielded the following result,

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Source

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Source

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Sending out a Press Release on the progress of negotiations is one thing.

But for a company such as PoAL to send information specifically to right wing blogs, that publish material from employers on a no-questions-asked basis,  is something relatively new to our industrial scene.

This is obviously a propaganda campaign – though one wonders what might be the purpose of such a campaign. Considering that probably 99% of Auckland ratepayers have never heard of “Kiwiblog”, and even fewer  “Cactus Kate” – feeding those two bloggers might appear to be somewhat of a pointless exercise.

Unless, of course, they are expecting David Farrar to parrot that information on his column in the NZ Herald? (And what would “Cactus Kate” do with her “Ports of Auckland Fact Sheet”?)

This should give cause for concern for PoAL’s shareholders – in this case the Auckland City Council (through it’s holding company, Auckland Council Investments Limited).

Whatever actions taken by the PoAL Board and especially it’s CEO, Tony Gibson, will ultimately reflect on the Auckland City Council, and it’s mayor, Len Brown.

At this point, I am wondering what Auckland councillors and mayor are thinking, knowing that their company is engaging in some weird propaganda exercise with two right-wing bloggers? Actually, do they even know?!

Is this professional behaviour from a Chief Executive who commands a $750,000 annual salary (+ perks) – eight times the figure allegedly paid to maritime workers?

PoAL’s behaviour suggests that there is not a shred of “goodwill” on their part to resolve the port dispute with it’s workers. Any such suggestion would be laughable. Instead, the propaganda campaign marks nothing less than open warfare designed to undermine their Union, and by default, the entire employer-employee negotiations.

Not exactly the best way to engender good relations, loyalty, or productivity from staff?!

Whilst David Shearer and Len Brown have adopted a “hands-off” stance, to allow both parties to come to a resolution, it appears that PoAL have no hesitation in “getting down and dirty” in this fight. Which means that whilst the port workers are effectively on their own – the Right are mounting a more and more agressive campaign, and bringing in every ally they can muster.

Some might say this is “class war”. And to be honest, it appears more and more that way every passing day.

This is not resolution – this is escalation.

Who will PoAL call upon next?

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Sent to Mayor Len Brown

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from:    Frank Macskasy
to:    Len Brown <len.brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>
date:    Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM
subject:    Port Dispute – Escalation?

Sir,

As you may or may not be aware, Ports of Auckland Ltd have taken to sending information to right wing blogs – namely “Kiwiblog” and “Cactus Kate” – regarding an alleged Ernst & Young “audit” of PoAL employees salaries.

This audit was released only to right wing bloggers (as far as I am aware), and not to the media.

Questions arising from PoAL’s actions,

1. Were you and Council members aware that PoAL was engaging in the release of such an inflammatory report to selected recipients?

2. Is it policy from Auckland Council that ratepayer-owned businesses engage in such provocative and unprofessional behaviour, in the midst of an industrial dispute?

3. Do you, and Council, believe that such provocative behaviour is indicative of “goodwill bargaining” by employers?

4. Does Auckland Council endorse these tactics from PoAL?

5. What was the purpose of PoAL releasing this “audit” to right-wing bloggers?

6. After this release of information, do you and Council still have confidence in PoAL chief Excecutive, Tony Gibson, who appears to be engaging in escalation rather than negotiation?

In case you have not see the material I am referring to, the relevant information is here: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/propaganda-as-an-industrial-dispute-weapon/

It is my assessment that Mr Gibson’s position of PoAL chief executive has become untenable, as he has alienated his workforce and resorted to tactics that are inflammatory. His actions in sending material to rightwing bloggers cannot be considered anything except highly provocative. One must question Mr Gibson’s  judgement in engaging in such unprofessional behaviour.

As mayor and leader of Auckland, responsibility for resolving this confrontation devolves to you, Mr Brown. Mr Gibson seems unable (or unwilling, for reasons known only to himself) to resolve this dispute.

It is time, sir, for you to take immediate and decisive action.

It is time for Mr Gibson to step down as CEO of Ports of Auckland Ltd.

It is time for a new CEO to be appointed – one who can engage with maritime workers and act constructively to resolve this dispute.

Regards,
- Frank Macskasy
Blogger
Frankly Speaking

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from:    Mayor Len Brown Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
to:    Frank Macskasy
date:    Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM
subject:    Thank you for contacting Mayor Len Brown

On behalf of Mayor Len Brown, thank you for your email.

The Mayor receives a large volume of correspondence and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

Kind regards,
Office of the Mayor
Auckland Council – Te Kaunihera O Tamāki Makaurau

http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
Follow Len Brown on Facebook & Twitter

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After a month, the following reply is received from Mayor Brown’s office,

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from:    Mayor Len Brown Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
to:    Frank Macskasy
date:    Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM
subject:    RE: Port Dispute – Escalation?
    

Dear Frank,

Thank you for contacting Mayor Len Brown regarding the current dispute at the Ports of Auckland. I am responding on his behalf and please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding to you.

Mayor Brown’s position is to continue to encourage both sides of the dispute to return to the negotiating table and bargain in good faith on the collective agreement.

Both sides are aware of the need for a sustainable settlement because the Port is essential to the Auckland economy and delivers ratepayers a return on their investment. The two sides need to find a solution and this cannot be imposed on them from outside.

Mayor Brown supports retaining the port in public ownership and not privatising it, which means it is important that the port work as efficiently and effectively as possible for the people of Auckland.

Ports of Auckland Ltd is an independent company that is run and managed by its own board. It is not appropriate for Mayor Brown to step in on every industrial dispute as it is the two sides that need to come to agreement.

However, Mayor Brown remains concerned about the ongoing impact of the dispute on the Auckland economy, the return to Auckland Council and the working relationships on the wharves. He will continue to encourage both sides to enter mediation and resolve the dispute in a sustainable manner.

Kind Regards,
Donna Lovejoy | Mayoral Correspondence
Office of the Mayor, Auckland Council
Level 1, Town Hall, Queen Street, Auckland
Visit our website:  http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

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It is disappointing that Len Brown’s response addressed none of the points I raised and answered none of the questions.

If Len Brown believes that he is safe by sitting on the fence,  he should consider Humpty Dumpty’s fate. Deserting your constituents who voted for you is not a particularly smart thing to do.

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Additional

Chris Trotter: The Auckland Ports Dispute – An Open Letter To David Shearer

Chris Trotter: Equal and Opposite

Matt McCarten: It’s time to step up, Mr Mayor

Maritime Union: Ports of Auckland management “fact sheet” short on facts

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Why wharfies are striking – in their own words (+ photos)

- Simon Oosterman

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Articles and photos by Simon Oosterman. Hi-res photos are available here. Please feel free to distribute.

The media have given plenty of space to Ports of Auckland management, but nobody has canvassed the opinions of those most affected by the company’s decisions, the workers. Here we get behind the news to the men, their wives and the children affected by the Ports of Auckland actions and proposals.

For the background to the dispute read the Maritime Union of New Zealand and Council of Trade Union fact sheet and the Port of Auckland’s industrial dispute updates.

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The Thorton family: “They want drones when we are actually parents”

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FAIR ROSTERING: From the left – Max Thorton (5), Shaun (43), Nina (4), Amy (5), Leah (37) and Ben (9). Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Shaun Thorton, 43, drives a straddle at the Ports of Auckland where he has worked for 18 years. He met his wife Leah at the port where she worked before becoming a fulltime mum looking after their four kids: Ben (9), twins Max and Amy (5) and Nina (4).

“We want predictability so we can have a family life,” he says. “We only get one weekend off every third weekend meaning I work 35 weekends in the year. I’m striking for the kids.”

Leah interrupts: “and for the marriage”.

“Shaun’s work is a nightmare for me and the kids,” she says. “Dad only went to two soccer games last year and couldn’t come to the preschool Christmas party. We’ve learnt to live with it but it’s far from perfect.”

“It’s clear from the ports casualisation plan that they want drones, when we are actually parents. You can’t sustain a family as a casual and deal with the everyday stuff parents have to put up with. One of our kids has a chronic illness and another is getting progressively deaf in one ear. I should be able to count on partner to help out with hospital visits and specialist’s visits.

“Everyone complains about irresponsible teenagers going out on town and they wonder where their parents are. They are hereThe Wallace family: “It’s not just husbands affected, it’s our families too” and in other unsociable jobs. The only other option to this work is working on the minimum wage.

“It astounds me that they are trying to increase productivity by ruining our work life balance – do they want people sleeping on the job?” she says. “Can I complain to the company about not having annual leave or sick days?”

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The Wallace family: “It’s not just husbands affected, it’s our families too”

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FAMILY TIME: From centre left – Mark Wallace, Ashley (9), Rebecca (7) and Katrina. Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Mark Wallace is a stevedore at the Ports of Auckland. He worked his way up from a casual to a permanent crane driver over 18 years. Mark and wife Katrina have two children, Ashley (9) and Rebecca (7).

“I’m trying to protect my family life,” he says. “The company wants the right to tell me at midnight, eight hours before a shift, that I don’t have the shift anymore. How can I plan a family life around that?”

“The company goes on about caring for its employees, but they treat us like shit. We’ve given them the best container rates ever. If they really cared about us, we’d be inside working. We had to strike at Christmas just to get time off with our kids.”

Katrina, is a self-employed dress-maker who works from home.

“I brought the kids down to the picket show solidarity with my husband,” she says. “But it’s not just husbands affected, it’s our families too. The company’s proposed changes would be hard for me and the kids. I couldn’t take on huge jobs because I wouldn’t know day-to-day what Mark would be doing. I wouldn’t even be able to count on him to pick up the kids from school.”

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The Witehira family: “Keeping family time is more important than a pay rise”

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POWER TO THE FAMILY: Jermaine Witehira (31), Jayda (1), Karine (2), Gabrielle (5) and Destiny. Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Jermaine Witehira, 31, got his first ever job at the Ports of Auckland where he has been working as a stevedore for 14 years. Jermaine and wife Destiny have three children, Gabrielle (5), Karine (2) and Jayda (1)

“I’m doing this for my family and my mates,” he says. “A 10% pay rise isn’t worth the new casual roster system – family time is more important than a pay rise.

“The company says we earn $91k a year – I‘ve never earned that in the 14 years I’ve been here. I get around $64k but I have to work 24 hours overtime and that costs my family.”

Destiny says Jermaine doesn’t see his kids because he leaves for work at 5:30am and gets back at 11:30pm.

“Being a young family is hard enough, but with his hours it feels like I’m a solo mum,” she says. “If the company gets what it wants I’ll have to put my kids in day care and get a job. The thing is that the job would probably only just cover day care costs and I’d have to find a job that worked around casual hours.”

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Brandon Cherrington

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FAMILY PICKET: Brandon Cherrington and his 1 1/2 year old daughter. Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Brandon Cherrington, 38, has worked at the Ports of Auckland for 1½ years. He is a permanent part-timer and is only guaranteed 24 hours a week. Brandon has a 1½ year old daughter.

“This strike is all about our families,” he says. “We are here supporting the boys to keep and improve our conditions. With the company’s [proposed] new flexibility, they want us to be on call and I won’t be able to plan activities with my daughter anymore.”

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Shaun Osbourne

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JOB SECURITY: Casual worker Shaun Osbourne on the picket line. Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Shaun Osbourne works at the Ports of Auckland. Because he is a casual employee, he hasn’t had a single guaranteed hour in the eight years he has worked there.

“My shifts are allocated the day before I go to work,’ he says. “I could get anywhere between eight and 48 hours a week which could be in the morning, afternoon or graveyard or a combination of the shifts. I won’t be crossing over. We’ve got to make sure permanent workers don’t end up like us casuals.”

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Wayne Wolfe

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FACTS: Wayne Wolfe has done his research. Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Wayne Wolfe, 58, works as a stevedore at the Ports of Auckland. He has worked on the ports for 35 years. Wayne has three adult children and two grandchildren, including a two-week old baby. Wayne is an executive member of Local 13 of the Maritime Union.

“Many of these young fellas are casuals and have had busted up marriages because of their casualised hours,” he says. “When I first joined, conditions were brilliant and I am doing my best to leave it that way.”

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Ron Bell

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PICKET: Local 13 member Ron Bell (53). Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Ron Bell, 53, is a stevedore at the Ports of Auckland. He will have worked on the waterfront for 31 years this coming April and has been union since he was 17. He has four daughters Jac (20), Katherine (18) and twins Samantha and Amanda (15). He is an executive member of Local 13 of the Maritime Union.

“I just want our guys to keep their jobs on decent hours and not get shat on waiting by the phone 24 hours a day,” he says. “People before us made our conditions what they are today and they should stay that way.”

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Ken Ziegler

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STAUNCH: Ken Ziegler standing tall. Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Ken Ziegler, 49, has worked as a stevedore at the Ports of Auckland for 12 years. Ken is the main provider for his son Carlos (10). He is an executive member of Local 13 of the Maritime Union.

“It’s really simple,” he says. “The company is trying to casualise the entire workforce to keep labour costs down.”

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Napo Kuru

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SOLIDARITY: Casual Napo Kuru stands with permanent workers. Photo: Simon Oosterman

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Napo Kuru, 27, has worked as a casual lasher at the Ports of Auckland for four years.

“I’m on $16 an hour as a casual and can get anywhere between 16 and 30 hours a week,” he says. “We have the same fight as the permanent boys. They want everyone to be cheap which will drive down everyone’s pay.”

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We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

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Additional photos

Simon Oosterman

Related blog items

At gunpoint, maybe?

Harbour battles & casual fear

Support workers & their families

Facebook: Support Ports of Auckland Workers

The Standard:  Meet the wharfies and their families

Facebook: Maritime Union of New Zealand

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Harbour battles & casual fear

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Why is newbie National MP, Jamie Lee-Ross, getting involved in pay negotiations that don’t concern him personally?

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Full Story
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Ports of Auckland is not a state Owned enterprise. Therefore, Mr Lee-Ross has as much to do with that company and it’s employer-employee negotiations as he might with any other company in the country.

Is he intending to comment on the next wages-negotiation between Fulton Hogan and it’s staff? Fletcher construction and it’s employees? Perhaps he might feel inclined to comment on Wattie-Heinz negotiations with their workers?

While we’re about it; Mr Lee-Ross has a very generous tax-payer funded salary; with free travel perks; and a gold-plated superannuation fund that tax-payers (again) subsidise.

His  salary comes to $141,800 – quite generous for these recessionary times. In fact, on 17 November last year, it was increased from $134,800, and back-dated to 1 July 2011.

In which case, so what if maritime union workers are well remunerated? They do a hard, dangerous, dirty job – one that most of us would think twice before doing. Being highly paid is also National Party policy, as John Key outlined in 2008;

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We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

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Perhaps Mr Lee-Ross is unaware that the Maritime Union appears to be fulfilling National Party policy?

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With a full-blown propaganda war now in effect between the Ports of Auckland management; right wing politicians; and various reactionary groupies on one side, and the Union, workers, their families,  and  supporters on the other – the first casualty has indeed been truth.

Specifically, the amount earned by maritime union members. First of all, I would point out that the wages paid to maritime workers is actually irrelevant.

It’s really no one’s business what Port of Auckland’s employees are paid. That is a matter between bosses and workers.

After all, how many other New Zealanders would really welcome the glare of public scrutiny on their incomes? (Especially self-employed – many of whom have a tradition of doing “cashies”, which they fail to declare to the IRD.)

The spotlight on maritime workers’ incomes seems to have emanated from the Ports of Auckland, CEO, Tony Gibson, who said,
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“…the average wage for a stevedore is more than $90,000 a year and the lowest rate is $17.12 an hour.” – Source

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Catherine Etheredge, Port of Auckland’s Senior Manager Communications, posted this statement on The Standard,

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I can confirm that the average remuneration for a full time stevedore, in the year ended June 30, 2011, was $91,480. The average remuneration for a part time stevedore (guaranteed at least 24 hours work a week) was $65,518.

53% of full time stevedores (123 individuals) earned over $80,000. 28% (43 individuals) earned over $100,000 with the highest earner making $122,000.

The averages were calculated by POAL’s payroll team based on actual payments, including for leave days, medical insurance and superannuation contributions. (For employees covered by the collective agreement, POAL matches their superannuation contributions up to a maximum of 7%.) We excluded those who had worked for less than the full 12 months e.g. had left part way through the year.

Employees are also entitled to 15 days sick leave per annum, accruing up to 45 days. All shift workers are entitled to five weeks annual leave. Training for all stevedoring tasks (crane driving, straddle driving and lashing) is undertaken in house and is paid for by the company.

One question that has been asked is how many hours you have to work to earn that $91,000. Stevedores who earned the average $91,000 in the 2010/11 financial year were paid for an average of 43 hours per week, excluding leave days. If you factor leave days in, that increases to 49 hours per week.

This leads to the key issue for the company – the high amount of paid downtime – an average of 35% of total hours paid. An employee getting paid for a 43 hour week is only working around 28 hours; for a 40 hour week, 26 hours. In a busy week, employees get paid for 66.5 hours but can only work for a maximum of 44.5.

On Monday 9 January, to give a recent example, we paid 26 staff a total of $5,484,80 for downtime, because they were entitled to be paid until the end of their set eight hour shift even though the ship had finished & they had gone home. In another example employees worked two hours of an overtime shift but were paid for the full eight hours.

This is not a cost-efficient nor sustainable labour model, especially when the company is not covering its cost of capital, cannot therefore justify further investment in order to grow, and its closest competitor has a labour utilisation rate in excess of 80%. (At Port of Tauranga stevedores start and finish work when a ship arrives and departs).

The company has offered an upfront 10% increase to hourly rates along with the retention of existing terms and conditions in return for more flexible rosters which would significantly reduce the amount of paid downtime. Employees would have the opportunity to plan their roster a month in advance. This proposal would result in a people being remunerated for fewer overall hours at a higher rate than they would currently get for the same paid hours. To be fair, until such time as container volumes recover/improve, the 10% increase to hourly rates would not (as some commentators have suggested) push average remuneration over $100K.” – Source
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Yet, at least one blog-poster at “The Standard”  noticed a discrepancy in Ms Etheredge’s statement, and questioned her figures,

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I’m not sure this bit adds up – would appreciate someone to check my math :) .

For 123 workers to be 53% of the workforce, that gives a work population of 232. But for 43 individuals to be 28% of the workforce, the population is 153. I assume there’s a typo in there somewhere. If 43 workers are indeed on more than $100k out of a population of 232, then that means an actual top-echelon level of 18% of the workforce.

And I’m not familiar with the organisational structure on the port – does this average include only personnel with no personnel that report to them, or does is include the shift leaders or even a tier above small-team supervision?” – Source

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It is further worth noting that Ms Etheredge states,

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This is not a cost-efficient nor sustainable labour model, especially when the company is not covering its cost of capital…

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“Not covering its cost of capital“? Yet, according to the National Business Review, Ports of Auckland posted a $24.9 million profit in  the year to June – up 2.1% on the previous year.

And in October 2010, Managing director Jens Madsen said that “overall container volumes in the three months to September 30 were up nearly 8% on the same period last year“.

The Maritime Union states,

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A stevedores guarantee for 40 hours per week is $1,090.40 = $56,700.80 per annum @ 260 shifts per year.  To earn the money being quoted by Mr Gibson, stevedores would have to complete an extra 1,377 hours.  Stevedores are required to work days or nights, weekends, public holidays – basically any shifts 24/7 often 16 hour shifts.” – Source

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Helen Kelly, from the CTU says on the same blog-page,

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The first position was that Port workers earn an average of $91,000 for a 26 hour week. This was widely publicised and is now being so seriously challenged they have been flushed out to provide the correct information.

Now it appears the $91,000 is for a 49 hour week and this includes superannuation, medical insurance etc. Assuming the superannuation is 7% then $6,370 of this is a super subsidy, leaving an avearage annual salary of $84,000. Given these “average” workers are working 22.5% more hours than a “normal working week” of 40 hours, then $20,475 of this salary can be considered payment for the extra working hours.

This leaves an avearage wage of $64,155 which includes medical insurance.

The union says a stevedores guarantee for 40 hours per week is $1,090.40 = $56,700.80 per annum @ 260 shifts per year. Regardless, the position has changed dramatically since the Ports first shots rasing questions about the other information they are using to disguise the agenda to make permanent workers into casuals.

It would be great if the Port could provide the avearage salary of the 20% of casuals workers they employ at the port by hours worked?” – Source
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The figures quoted by the Ports of Auckland appear to have been somewhat “massaged” – ie, presented in such a way as to present the best possible “message” for management. Of course, it is difficult to verify what the workers are paid without sighting payslips.

But the wording of Ms Etheredges statement and her reference to “average”, indicates that there is more to this matter than we’ve been told.

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But this isn’t even about a wage-increase – that is a mis-representation by the Ports of Auckland – as the 10% wage-increase was an offer from MANAGEMENT to the Union, in return for casualising the work-force. As the Maritime Union stated,

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The union position is clear. It does not want the 10%; it wants secure, ordered and transparent rosters for its members.”  – Source

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Casualisation would mean that instead of having a 40-hour job (which most New Zealanders aspire to), it  would be part-time, and on-call. Workers would be  sitting at home, waiting for a phone call to come to work.

No one can raise a family; put food on the table; and pay a mortgage with a “McDonalds”-style casual-job.

Jamie Lee-Ross states,

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Every Aucklander has a stake in the Ports of Auckland. It is not a privately owned company. Nor is it listed on any stock exchange. Each and every share in the company is owned by the Auckland Council on behalf of 1.4 million Auckland residents and ratepayers. The destruction in value in one of our city’s largest public assets is alarming and has to be of concern to us all. ” – Source

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Three points:

1. Whilst ratepayers most certainly do own the Ports of Auckland, there is no risk to them, nor the shareholding Auckland City Council.

Ports of Auckland posted a $24.9 million profit in  the year to June 2011. So it is a self-funding operation, and quite a profitable one at that.

2. It is disturbing that Jamie Lee-Ross is not as concerned about the “destruction in value” of jobs. Maritime workers face losing their full-time jobs, and instead turned into casual workers.

How can a workers raise their family when they don’t know what they’ll be earning from day to day; week to week?

3. It’s nice to see a National MP recognising the fact that Ports of Auckland is owned by the people of Auckland. Hopefully, Mr Lee-Ross will remember this when his government colleagues vote to sell the first state owned enterprise, Mighty River Power – which is also owned by the people.

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Despite John Key’s pledge in 2008, it seems clear that National and their business fellow-travellers are content to see wages cut.

Bill English stated as much on “Q+A”, on  10 April 2011, when he seemed to express satisfaction that New Zealand’s wages were more “competitive”, by around 30%, to Australia’s,

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BILL Well, it’s a way of competing, isn’t it?  I mean, if we want to grow this economy, we need the capital – more capital per worker – and we’re competing for people as well.

GUYON So it’s part of our strategy to have wages 30% below Australia?

BILL Well, they are, and we need to get on with competing for Australia.  So if you take an area like tourism, we are competing with Australia.  We’re trying to get Australians here instead of spending their tourist dollar in Australia.

GUYON But is it a good thing?

BILL Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?

BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact.  We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing.  This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia.  That’s lifting the standard.  They’re closing up the gap.

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

BILL Well, at the moment, if I go to Australia and talk to Australians, I want to put to them a positive case for investment in New Zealand, because while we are saving more, we’re not saving more fast enough to get the capital that we need to close the gap with Australia.  So Australia already has 40 billion of investment in New Zealand.  If we could attract more Australian companies, activities here, that would help us create the jobs and lift incomes.

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Bill English seems to want it both ways; lift wages – but yet keep wages “competitive” with Australia. I guess one day he might make up his mind.

De-unionisation is currently proceeding throughout the country. Another industrial dispute is at CMP Rangitikei where contract negotiations between the ANZCO-owned plant and the NZ Meat Workers Union has resulted in one hundred and eleven  workers locked out at their  plant when they resisted pay cuts of up to 20% and reductions in conditions.
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There is a silent war going on in this country. It is a war to destroy any and all  remaining unionised-protection for workers and to increase “flexibility” and “competitiveness”. Such moves will have the consequences of driving down wages even further, and which will increase business profits, and dividends for shareholders. Tough luck, I guess, if it’s done at the expense of staff.

Businesspeople and shareholders: two of National’s core constituents.

Little wonder that employment confidence has taken a steep nose-dive,
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One thing should be perfectly clear to every worker in this country; if a strongly unionised workforce such as Ports of Auckland workers, and ANZCO freezing workers,  can have their employment conditions arbitrarily changed, and casualised against their wishes – the question on everyone’s mind must be, “Who is next in line? Is it me?”

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As well as attempting to drive down labour costs by destroying the Maritime Union, there appears to be another, lesser-known agenda at work in the backrooms of various “movers and shakers” – privatisation.

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Full Story

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Note that the above article came out on the same day as the NBR published a report, “Imports drive Ports of Auckland profit higher“.

It would appear that this is not just a battle for the control of worker’s pay and conditions – but for the  Ports of Auckland itself.

As the National Business Review reports  stated, the Ports of Auckland is a growing, highly-profitable business.

The attack on Maritime port workers by PoA management is, I believe, designed to achieve a single goal, exploiting several methods,

  • Attack workers’ rights and conditions; create chaos on the waterfront; paint the Union as “lazy greedies”; and stir up Auckland ratepayers’ anger, until they’ve had enough and want the Ports of Auckland sold off. Result: easy privatisation of a very valuable asset.
  • Change the current, permanent, workforce into a casualised workforce. Result: reduce wage costs for new, private owners.
  • Drive the Maritime Union of the Ports of Auckland. Result: greater casualisation if the workforce; lower wages even further; eliminate all workers’ protection.

This, I believe is the real agenda.

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Previous blog story

At gunpoint, maybe?

Sources

Scoop: Union Biting the hand that feeds

National Party MP: Jami-Lee Ross – Biography

John Key  SPEECH: 2008,  A Fresh Start for New Zealand

TVNZ Q+A: Guyon Espiner interviews Bill English (transcript)

Wanganui Chronicle: Overseas labour concerns union

NZ Herald:  Sentiment on work prospects gloomy

NBR:  Imports drive Ports of Auckland profit higher

NBR: Plea for ratepayers to give up port control

NBR: Increased traffic at Ports of Auckland

NBR:  Ports of Auckland profits hold steady

Additional

Scoop: POAL documents show senior management running own agenda

Chris Trotter:  The Auckland Ports Dispute: An Injury To All

Chris Trotter:  Port bosses sensitive to show of union power

Tumeke: The Manufactured Crisis at Ports of Auckland and why did Len Brown walk into it?

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At gunpoint, maybe?

6 January 2012 4 comments

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I recall the rise and rise of the Solidarity Free Trade Union movement in Poland in 1980, when Polish workers rose up against their communist government Overlords and said “enough!”. Workers wanted their own, independent,  trade unions – not the puppet organisations run by, and for, the Polish communist party.

It gained strength and became not just the first truly independent worker’s union in a communist state – but practically a grass-roots de facto Opposition to Poland’s one-party government.

In 1981,   the New Zealand Polish Association in Wellington; various local trade unions; and an organisation that I belonged to, organised one of the largest street marches – estimated to number up to ten thousand – in support of Solidarity.

Solidarity was hailed around the world.

Leaders in the West hailed Solidarity as peoples’ desire to be free and belong to whatever associations they wanted. The subtext, of course, was pointing out the irony that workers were protesting against their own supposedly workers-party, in a supposedly workers’ “socialist paradise”.

No wonder Western leaders of the likes of Reagan,  Thatcher, et al, supported the Solidarity movement – it was a “poke in the eye” for the Soviet Union and it’s Eastern European satellite  client-states. (Though I doubt that Western leaders had suddenly become over-night champions of workers’ rights.)

It seems therefore somewhat duplicitous that some folk now condemn free trade unions and want their activities curtailed, using  “whatever action they need to take to resolve this matter“,

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Really? Ex-National MP and mayoral aspirant, Christine Fletcher has called for the strike to be “resolved”, using “whatever action they need to take to resolve this matter“?!

Them is powerful words; “whatever action they need to take“.

I am reminded that the communist regime in Poland also attempted to employ “whatever action they needed” to crush the Solidarity Trade Union.

The communists – led by General Jaruzelski – declared martial law on December 13, 1981, which lasted until July 1983. Under cover of martial law, thousands of Polish activists (we would call them freedom fighters) were imprisoned. Up to 100 innocent people may have been killed in the crack-down, that was ruthless even by communist standards.

So when Ms Fletcher calls for the Auckland Port strike to be “resolved” using “whatever action they need to take to resolve this matter” – that statement makes me uneasy. She obviously has no real understanding what it takes to smash a  trade union.

Does Ms Fletcher want the Maritime Union disbanded? It’s bank account(s) frozen? It’s assets seized? It’s organisers arrested and thrown into prison?

I’m under no illusion that there are quasi-sociopathic extremists in this country – as around the world in every other society – who  would welcome living in a repressive, autocratic regime that would imprison trade unionists. (And possibly journalists, left-wing commentators and bloggers, judges, and anyone else who doesn’t tow the Party line. It’s called fascism.)

But I’m disappointed and saddened that Christine Fletcher is so mis-guided as to be espousing what amounts to a state crackdown on perfectly legal organisations, and their members exercising their democratic rights.

The same democratic rights, I might add, that eventually brought down the Polish government and started the domino-collapse of communism and the Soviet Empire.

I am even further saddened when I recall – and remind readers – that Ms Fletcher was  a principled politician who resigned as Minister in  September 1997, because she objected to the sale of  publicly-owned assets of the ARST (Auckland Regional Services Trust)  by the then, Bolger-led National government.

Whether or not Ms Fletcher supports the action of the Martime Union and the Ports of Auckland Board should be set aside. Democracy is, by necessity, a messy process.

Would we want it any other way?

Especially cosidering the alternatives? Perhaps we should ask the people of Syria.

When Ms Fletcher demands “whatever action they need to take to resolve this matter“, what, precisely, is she hinting but not actually putting into words?

At gunpoint, maybe?

Interestingly, the Maritime Union is asking for actually less than the Ports of Auckland Board is offering; 2.5% as opposed to the company’s 10%,

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The “sticking point” is the companies plan to casualise the workforce.

As commentator and blogger, Kjt said on The Standard,

Among other things, POAL want the advantages of a casual on call work force without having to pay for it. Not many people would want to be on 8 hours call 365 days of the year with only a certain number of hours guaranteed and no pay for being available. In Tauranga and Nelson casuals are free to take other work without penalty.”

No wonder the workers are fighting back  by strike action. Their jobs are on the line.

Now, is that an unreasonable thing to fight for?

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Messages of support for striking workers can be left on these Facebook pages

Facebook: Ports of Auckland

Facebook: Maritime Union

Additional

Wikipedia: Christine Fletcher

Wikipedia: Solidarnosc

Wikipedia: Martial Law in Poland

Facebook: NZ Maritime Union

Port bosses sensitive to show of union power

Matt McCarten: ‘Greedy wharfies’ tale hides ambitions for port

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