Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Tahi)

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Tahi)

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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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  1. Deborah Kean
    11 March 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I have heard they have a new full page advert out today, (I won’t see it, I won’t buy Sunday papers, they’re all shite). It gives the $91,000 a year lie, which Radio NZ are stating as the truth…
    How many Joe and Joanne Everidge people will shake their heads sagely and say “I knew it”?

  1. 9 April 2015 at 8:01 am

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