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Archive for March, 2012

The Lie Clock…

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A man died and went to heaven.  As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.

He asked, “What are all those clocks?”

St. Peter answered, “Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move.”

“Oh,” said the man, “whose clock is that?”

“That’s Mother Teresa’s. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie.”

“Incredible,” said the man. “And whose clock is that one?” St. Peter responded, “That’s Abraham Lincoln’s clock.

The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life.”

“Where’s John Keys clock?” asked the man.

” John’s clock is in Jesus’ office. He’s using it as a ceiling fan.”

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Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags: ,

History Lesson – Toru – Jobs

20 March 2012 4 comments

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Another look back into our recent history. Just to remind ourselves, that what is past, is prologue…

Firstly, too many of our simple-minded fellow New Zealanders still cling to the bigotted fantasy that those on welfare benefits are there “by choice”.  Currently, our unemployment stands at 150,000 – or 6.3% of the workforce.

But was it always so…?

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6 June 2002

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14 September 2002

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New Zealand’s growth rate in the early to mid 2000s was between 4% and 6%, and the skilled labour shortage reflected an economy that was doing well,

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Tony Alexander, the BNZ’s chief economist, was reported to have said that “businesses are also going to have to consider helping with basic education. They are going to have to take on less  skilled people and train them up in reading, writing, and arithmetic“,

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24 October 2002

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Unemployment dropped to a record low of  3.8%  by December 2007. Interestingly, as the recession impacted on our economy, unemployment soared. It is no secret that unemployment and recessionary periods are closely intertwined,

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28 October 2002

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Our GDP (per capita, adjusted by purchasing power parity) rose steadily in the 2000s, levelling of post-2008,  as the global banking crisis hit New Zealand, creating into a full-blown recession,

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The result of leaving everything up to the free market – a skills shortage. It became readily apparent that businesses demanded well-educated, trained, experienced workers – but were not prepared to pay for that upskilling. That was the role of the State. So much for the State staying out of  the Market – when the Market could not/would not, invest in skills training as required,

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20 November 2002

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As the economy boomed, the government post surplus after surplus. (So much for the mischief-making  from certain National/ACT agitprops who scurrilously spread the lie that the previous Labour Government mis-managed the economy.) The actual data is  on record for all to see,

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Which, in turn, allowed Labour’s finance minister, Michael Cullen to pay down our sovereign debt,

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As always, the building industry was affected. Which is in marked contrast to builders who, in the last couple of years were finding work hard to come by. But in 2002, it was a completely different world,

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25 November 2002

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Even though the economy was growing and unemployment was dropping, it was evident that people’s skills (or lack of) did not match the demands of employers for their businesses. This failure of the Market to upskill workers, to meet the needs of business, is  yet more clear evidence that without State assistance and intervention, economic growth is stifled.

If the self-regulating “Invisible Hand” of the Marketplace acted as per theory, then unskilled unemployed should be upskilled by businesses as required.  This did not happen,

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2 December 2002

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The point of this history lesson is that a poorly performing economy will not maximise the use of available human labour. Or to put it more plainly, if the economy is in recession – expect high unemployment.

That is fairly simple to understand.

Those politicians, and their groupies, who talk about a “welfare lifestyle” or “welfare dependancy” are being deliberately disingenuous. These  politicians are well-educated, sophisticated men and women who have a clear understanding of economic forces and their consequences.

Politicians understand that very few people are on welfare as a “lifestyle”. And “dependancy” should actually mean being dependant on state assistance – or the alternative being to starve. Those who are unemployed are as “welfare dependent” as an astronaut in space is “spacesuit dependent”.

In truth, when the likes of John Key, Paula Bennett, et al, talk of  “welfare lifestyle” and/or “welfare dependancy” – they are using ‘code’ to paint welfare recipients as being the architects of their misfortune.

Because, dear fellow New Zealanders, as we all know, the unemployed here in New Zealand were sitting in the Boardrooms of  Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bank of Scotland, General Motors, Lehmann Bros, etc, etc, etc, and were responsible for the chaos and misery of the 2008 Recession.

When a politician attempts to paint a welfare beneficiary as “welfare lifestyle” and/or  “welfare dependancy” – they are shifting responsibility from themselves – the people with power – onto welfare reciepients – the most powerless in society- for the pitiful state of the economy here in New Zealand, and  throughout the world.

I wonder if welfare beneficiaries know that they crippled the revered demi-god of Western Capitalism, and brought Wall St and City of London, to it’s knees?

Damn crafty, these benes, eh?

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National – The End is Nigh

19 March 2012 6 comments

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This recent Roy Morgan poll in the ‘Dominion Post‘ caught my eye,

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Source

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At first glance, the Fairfax report sounds like good news for National and terribly bad news for Labour.

On closer analysis, nothing could be further from the truth. The story is mostly ‘spin’ – a somewhat disingenous attempt to paint the poll results in a good light. National’s own Party strategists will be viewing that poll with considerable dismay.

Here’s why…

A corresponding poll by Roy Morgan in March last year, had National on 52.5% and Labour on 32.5%,

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Comparing March 2011 with March 2012, we see the following results:

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2011 Poll Result

2012 Poll Result

+/-

National

52.5%

48.5%

– 4%

Labour

32.5%

30%

– 2.5%

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Both parties have actually dropped – not risen – as the Fairfax story claims.

Then we compare the Roy Morgan results with last year’s  election results, and the figures become even more interesting,

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March 2011 Poll Result

November Election

March 2012 Poll Result

National

52.5%

47.31%

48.5%

Labour

32.5%

27.48%

30%

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Now let’s factor in the pre-election polling results from Roy Morgan, in the week prior to the November 26 general election,

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March 2011 Poll Result

Pre-Election 2011 Morgan Poll

November 2011 Election

March 2012 Poll Result

National

52.5%

49.5%

47.31%

48.5%

Labour

32.5%

23.5 %

27.48%

30%

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Now a clearer picture emerges and nothing could be further from the truth with regards to the Fairfax report. As the polling – and the General Election results – amply illustrates, National is heading down, steadying currently at 47-48%. (And expect further falls.)

Conversely, Labour dipped from a March 2011 high of 32.5% to 23.5%, and is now climbing again.

More importantly – and this is the point that will be unsettling for National’s party strategists – a year ago,  National went into the 2011 general election from a high of 52.5%. (Other polls had National even higher at 55%-plus.) From that high, as campaigning by other parties offered alternatives to voters,  National shed some support, and their final end-result was 47.1% – a drop of of 5.19%.

If – as is likely – polling patterns are the same in the next couple of years,    a change of government in 2014 is inevitable.

My advice to David Shearer;

  • Get your party policy sorted, asap.
  • Get your party restructuring sorted, asap.
  • Treat other Opposition parties as your coalition partners and with respect. Form a broad Front. This will be the new reality, and if you can show that opposition parties can work together, the public will take notice.
  • Get a (new?)  speech writer – someone who has a flair with words, ideas,  and understands what is required to spark the public’s imagination. Yes, people want policy. But more than that, they want hope and a vision. JFK had it by the truckload.
  • Lastly, and most important;  act as the Prime Minister-in-Waiting that you are. Treat National as an Opposition-In-Waiting, and dismiss their policies accordingly. In fact, don’t be shy in stating boldlly that National’s policies are temporary; have a Use-By date; and Labour will review them.

This is what National has to look forward to in the next couple of years,

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Labour is now a government-in-waiting.

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A music moment

 

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Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags:

An Expensive Lesson?

18 March 2012 5 comments

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Full Story

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Once upon a time, New Zealand had free education. (Including free university education as well.)

Then, madness set upon us in the 1980s and 1990s.

We welcomed bribes from successive centrist or right wing governments who gave us seven tax cuts from 1986.  As a society, we were warned by the like of Jane Kelsey, Jim Anderton, and many others that this would not end well; that tax cuts demanded corresponding cuts in social services and more and more User Pays.

As Jim Anderton often said at public meetings,

User pays means that if you can’t pay for it, you can’t use it!”

Students and their families  are discovering that truism the hard way.

User pays;

Free medical prescriptions (remember those?) went out the door.

Free University education – now not free. We have a massive mountain of student debt, with 834,000 students having borrowed $13.9 billion since 1992.

In 2005, Otago Polytechnic Student’s Association President, Rachel Dibble said,

This debt will have an outrageous effect on the country. There will be a flow on cost to services supplied by graduates, and drive the cost of living higher. The current brain drain overseas will worsen.

School fees – once voluntary, to pay for “extras”, are now chased up by schools using debt collectors.  No longer used for “extras”  like trips away, they are now a critical part of school operations.  Fees  buy toilet paper and chalk.

A recent media report stated,

Family First NZ says that parents have paid over $1 billion in school donations over the past four years to prop up state school budgets – and low income families in low decile schools are also paying significant amounts.

According to information gained under the Official Information Act, the total amount of school voluntary donations/fees actually paid by families in the last four years has been $234m (2007), $247m (2008), $272m (2009), and $266m (2010) – totaling $1.02b.” – Source

The latest news in our ongoing  saga of education’s self-destruction in this country is that now NZQA is denying thousands of students from being awarded NCEA credits that they have achieved through their studies.

This is not just unfair; it is a lunatic policy enabled by an insular right wing National government that is so far out of touch with mainstream New Zealand, that it was last sighted by the Hubble telescope passing the orbit of Pluto, and heading further out into Deep Space.

But metaphors aside, New Zealanders need to take stock and ask themselves: where the hell are we headed? When further barriers are erected in front of disadvantaged families and their childre; to make it harder to take up opportunities to better themselves – just what the hell are we trying to achieve here?!

Earlier today, before I read the article above, I wrote this piece;  What will be her future? The piece was about three possible futures for a young child.

By no means do I blame schools, Universities, or the NZQA. Even successive governments – to a degree – are only doing what they can get away with,  using tax cuts to  chase after our  votes.

No, the responsibility lies with  voters who have permitted this sad state of affairs to happen and to get progressively worse. Too many people have been seduced by the offerings of politicians without questioning some pretty basic issues;

  • If we accept tax cuts – how will we pay for essential social services? Funding for these services do not materialise out of thin air, at the wave of Harry Potter’s magic wand. These services require cold, hard cash – taxes.
  • Is an ever-increasing User Pays in education helping or hindering? How will the disadvantaged cope? Do we even care?
  • If we don’t care about the disadvantaged in our society – why should they care about society itself? And how does a society survive and prosper if the majority care more about what elected politicians can do for them (eg, tax cuts) – rather than what those same politicians should be doing for the country as a whole?

A wise man  (or, his speech writers) once remarked,

“…ask not what your country can do for you — ask what can you do for your country.”

It seems we have forgotten that very simple philosophy.

This current government is rotten. It has no inkling of how to address the critical social problems plaguing our society. It is more concerned with shuffling ministries; cutting the state sector; sacking workers; cutting taxes (for some); and cutting social services. Expect no sensible solutions from them.

If we look at the political alternatives, it is up to each and every New Zealander to tell the leaders of Labour, Greens, NZ First, and Mana what kind of  society we want. And that we are willing to pay for it.

I may be a left-winger, but even I know a simple truth; there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. If we want free education and free healthcare, we better be prepared to pay for it. (And that includes those who have escaped taxation because their wealth is not in the form of taxable income.)

The solution is in our own hands.

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“Please Explain” email sent to Education Minister, Hekia Parata,

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From:      “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To:            hekia.parata@parliament.govt.nz
Date:        Sunday, 18 March, 2012 11:31 PM
Subject:  NCEA fees demanded from students

Kia ora Ms Parata,

I noted a recent media article which stated that “a $76.70 fee is stopping thousands of students from being awarded NCEA credits they have achieved” and that “all high school pupils who sit NCEA must pay the fee to their school and those who don’t will not have their achievements formally awarded, meaning some students have to re-sit assessments in order to complete NCEA levels. In 2010 more than 3000 students did not have their achievements formally awarded”.

Could you please comment on this issue and explain why, when we supposedly have free education in this country, that NZQA is demanding a fee from students in return for awarding their NCEA  Credits?

Is this National policy and does the government stand by this?

Link: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/6593846/NCEA-fee-shuts-out-hard-up-students

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
Frankly Speaking

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Related Blogpost

What will be her future?

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What will be her future?

18 March 2012 4 comments

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I was looking at several images taken from the March 10 rally and the port picket lines, and for some reason, this one stuck in my mind. The more I look at the image of this young Kiwi girl (I hope I haven’t got that wrong!),  it eventually came to me.

In my mind, I was wondering; what will be her future?

Depending very much on what my generation (“Baby Boomers”) and Gen X does now, in the Present, she probably has three likely futures ahead of her…

Future 1

More of the same. Casualisation of jobs; wages driven downward as businesses compete with each other, and overseas providers of goods and services;  few job opportunities except in  low-paid fast food, care-sector, cleaning, and suchlike. A wealth/income gap that has become so vast that even the Middle Class are now designated as the Shrinking Class. Top earners and asset-holders – the Privileged Class – are paying less and less tax; low income earners having to pay more and more; with fewer social services  readily available. More user-pays; more alienation; less engagement with the electoral process.

This young lass cannot escape to Australia as she is either unemployed or under-employed. She is part of a growing Struggling Class that is resented by the Shrinking Class, and viewed with disdain by the Privileged Class, though grudgingly accepted as a useful pool of cheap labour.

The Shrinking Class know in their heart-of-hearts that they are living under a failed economic system that benefits only a few. But they are too frightened to vote for an alternative centre-left Party; they fear the back-lash from an angry under-class only too happy to exact revenge.

Meanwhile, the Baby Boomer generation has hit retirement – but there are few skilled care-workers left in New Zealand. So the government imports migrant workers from Third World countries under a bonded-system (so they cannot, in turn, escape to Australia). Taxation levels are now so low that government subsidies have ceased and  full user-pays is now in effect for Rest homes. Baby boomers are selling up their residences and investment properties; the market is flooded with cheaper and cheaper houses – but with incomes so low, few can afford to buy them. Those that are sold reap less and less capital gains.

Future 2

More of the same, but she has been fortunate enough to be able to find resources and support from whanau over-seas – and she is of to Australia.

In Australia, she finds a relatively good job with decent pay. Her work conditions are protected by a strong Union; she has access to decent social services; and the government assists her and her new partner to build a house. They are both working; earning higher and higher incomes; and contributing to Australia’s economy and tax-base.

In a year or two, she helps other members of her family escape from New Zealand.

They leave behind a no-longer-smiling Prime Minister who is promising to “revitalise the economy” to “entice overseas Kiwis to come back” – then cuts another  1,000 workers from the State Sector and sells the last remaining profitable State Owned Enterprise.

Future 3

New Zealanders’ appetite for New Right, minimalist government, that has produced very few gains or benefits – has come to an end. The Smile & Wave Prime Minister is thrown out at the next election where he retires to his Hawaiian beach house, and is forgotten.

Meanwhile, a new centre-Left government takes stock and adopts a Scandinavian model of governance, taxation, and social services. The new government starts off with a crash programme of building 10,000 new state houses.  Free school meals for breakfast and lunch starts in the first year. Free doctor’s visits and boosting immunisation rates up to 99% follows. New Zealand returns to a system of free education. (Howls of protest from a few remaining New Right supporters are either ignored or ridiculed. Some are offered a free plane flight to a Libertarian-run state of their own choosing – if they can find one.)

Amongst this “radical” social democratic reform, the young girl above is supported by well-resourced local community groups and by strengthened state social services to journey through the education system. A new “Social Contract” requires that all young people will be in education; a job; or serving in a new New Zealand Civic Corp, which involves fair pay for working on major  infra-structure projects and ongoing tertiary/polytech education.

A Capital Gains Tax and Financial Transactions Tax,  is a first step toward capturing heretofore un-taxed wealth and assets. As returns from these taxes kick in, the government makes the first $11,000 of income tax free. As incomes increase, government looks at Gareth Morgan’s “negative tax” system.

The young girl has grown, graduated, and is now working in the community in the children’s health sector. Her education is on-going, as the State encourages workers to undertake further tertiary education. This increases her productivity and value to society, and she is paying more in tax as her income rises. She is a saving some of her pay in an expanded Kiwisaver Account;  spending more; and local businesses are benefitting from her expenditure. She meets a young man who is finishing his Builder’s Certificate through the NZ Civic Corp.

Together, they have a family.  One stays at home to care for the family, the other remains in paid work. The negative taxation system advocated by Gareth Morgan has been implemented and the stay-at-home parent still recieves an income from the State. People are not disincentivised to have children; raise a family;  who then grow up to be the next generation of tax-paying citizens.

With none of the pressures that young families are currently facing, their home is not stressed because of financial pressures and job uncertainty/insecurity, and the children are raised in a stable, relaxed environment. The children’s future ahead of them is reassured; early childhood education; schooling; tertiary education; and finally tax-paying citizens.

In this reformed society, children are number one on the list and will always have first recourse to resources. The Prime Minister is Minister for Children.

In school, civics is part of the curriculum, and young people are taught recent history of our country; the mistakes we have made; and how they can hold politicians to account.

Meanwhile, she has persuaded some of her whanau to return to New Zealand. They like what they see and can feel themselves ready to become a part of a true, inclusive New Zealand Society.

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The best thing about the three futures I’ve described above? The power to choose which one we’ll have is entirely in our hands. No one else can give or take it away from us.

Which is it to be, I wonder?

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Categories: Social Issues Tags:

It’s becoming fairly apparent that…

18 March 2012 1 comment

… whatever John Key says, the opposite will occur.

Just sayin’.

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Port Dispute Updates

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15 March

From Save Our Port.Com,

Ports of Auckland workers will be boosted by several displays of support and solidarity this weekend, the Maritime Union said today.

And  on Saturday, workers will enjoy a very relevant musical show.

Chris Prowse, the musician behind the Trouble on the Waterfront album and show which was used to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Waterfront Dispute, will perform at Teal Park around 11am on Sunday.

On Thursday, Bishop Muru Walters of Wellington visited the Teal Park camp along with members of the Anglican Social Justice Commission.

Earlier this week Bishop Walters had said “I am a bishop from the north. When people in the north hurt, I hurt.   When their security is put under threat, so is mine. I will stand in solidarity with the workers on the picket line. We need to remember that people are the most important thing: the security of families and especially children.”

Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe said Ports workers deeply appreciated the support and solidarity shown by people across Auckland, other parts of New Zealand, and from workers’ unions internationally.”

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Meanwhile,

The Ports of Auckland has agreed not to take any further action over redundancies ahead of a meeting next week.

The port has agreed with the Employment Court not to take further steps in the redundancy process or engage with contractors until after a judicial settlement conference is held on Monday.

The Maritime Union had gone to the court claiming Ports of Auckland had not followed the correct process when deciding to make 292 workers redundant.” – Port agrees to pause redundancies

This is a reasurring position by POAL management. Hopefully cooler, saner heads have prevailed within POAL’s Board and management team.

In reality, I suspect that pressure brought to bear on POAL is having some effect on otherwise intransigent employer. (Little wonder that Board Chairman Richard Pearson has taken over from CEO Tony Gibson, as the “front person” for the company. Notice how all media contacts are now with Pearson? Normally, it is CEOs that front for an organisation – not Board members nor chairpeople.)

The public rally on 10 March,  with an estimated 5,000 attending, must have sent shock waves through POAL  and the Mayor’s office, who suddenly decided to intervene and offer to mediate.  Still uncompromising, POAL was not prepared to do it’s part,  and POAL chairman, Richard Pearson said:

It’s all over. We’ve made the decision.”

Mr Pearson may have spoken too soon.

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On the same day, the port dispute was firmly on Auckland Council’s agenda at an Extraordinary Meeting.  The “hot”  issues were POAL’s decision to sack 292 Port workers, and the mysterious “12%” ROE figure that was being bandied about.

Note: It’s intriguing that even Gary Swift, CEO of Auckland Council Investments Ltd (ACIL) was unable to explain to Cr Richard Northey just precisely where the “12%” figure had originated from.

In a memo to Mr Swift,  dated 20 January, Cr Richard Northey wrote,

What was the origin and the justification for the above KPI [12%]? The Accountability and Performance Committee on 9 November [2011] was assured that this was an appropriate stretch target, but where did it originate from, and what was the basis and evidence for choosing that number?”

Mr Swift replied, in a memo dated 27 January,

I’m not exactly sure where the return on equity [ROE] target of 12% originated. I know that the current rate of return was universally considered to be far too low and I recall discussions with the Mayor  along those lines as well. The current rate of return is about  6% and a suitable stretch target was that it be doubled. I think Doug McKay may have suggested 12% when he met with the POAL Board. The origin is less important than whether it was achievable.  In discussions  with POAL we asked them whether it was possible and what would have to change to achieve it.

Which is not just intriguing – but critical to this issue, as Board members and Management are performance-assessed on “KPIs” – Key Performance Indicators.  How can a Board member or Management be assessed against a ROE (Return on Equity) – if that figure’s provenance or legal standing – cannot be established?!

Stating that “the origin is less important than whether it was achievable” is a nonsense. Of course it is important! It the responsibility of the Auckland Council to set target goals. Council Organisations (CO) and Council Controlled Organisations (CCO) Boards cannot pluck figures out of thin air and implement shonkey numbers as policy!

Sections 90 and 91 of  Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 state fairly clearly the powers of Auckland Council to make policy to “identify or define any strategic assets in relation to each substantive council-controlled organisation and set out any requirements in relation to the organisation’s management of those assets, including the process by which the organisation may approve major transactions in relation to them” (Section 90/2/e) .

Cr Richard Northey also moved, seconded by Cr Casey,  that,

a) That the attached correspondence between the Chairperson of the Accountability and Performance Committee and the Chief Executive of Auckland Council Investments Limited in January 2012 be received.

b) That the Governing Body endorse the attached statement on the Port dispute made by the Chairperson of the Accountability and Performance Committee at its meeting held on 9 February 2012.

c) That the resolutions from the Albert/Eden, Waitemata and Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Boards be received.

d) That the Governing Body express to the Ports of Auckland and to the Maritime Union:

i) its strong desire for an immediate return to good faith bargaining aimed at the achievement of a fair collective agreement that further significantly improves port efficiency, and

ii) its opposition to the redundancy and contracting out of 292 port workforce positions as proposed.

( Cr Northey withdrew parts d) i) and ii) with the agreement of the meeting, following legal advice on the role and powers of the Council.)

Cr Casey amended Cr Northey’s motion with this addition,

That the 12% return on equity from Ports of Auckland be reviewed at the earliest opportunity by the Accountability and Performance Committee, at the latest by its meeting of 4 April 2012.

Even though the  motion had been gutted, and the amendment regarding the “12%”  called only for a “review” – it was defeated by five votes to eleven;

For:

Councillors: Dr Cathy Casey
Alf Filipaina
Mike Lee
Richard Northey
Wayne Walker

Against:

Mayor: Len Brown
Councillors:Cameron Brewer
Hon Chris Fletcher
Ann Hartley
Penny Hulse
Des Morrison
Calum Penrose
Dick Quax
Sharon Stewart
Penny Webster
George Wood

Little wonder that Brian Rudman, writing in the NZ Herald, summed up the decision of the Council thusly,

Rhetoric to one side, you have to agree. Auckland’s rulers surrendered power to the unelected yesterday with hardly a whimper.”

Even more incredible was to follow, when the Mayor then put the original motion again, this time  in two parts:

a) That the attached correspondence between the Chairperson of the Accountability
and Performance Committee and the Chief Executive of Auckland Council
Investments Limited in January 2012 be received.

That was carried.

The next part,

b) That the Governing Body endorse the attached statement on the Port dispute made
by the Chairperson of the Accountability and Performance Committee at its meeting
held on 9 February 2012.

… was defeated, 6 votes to 10.  Having moved the motion, Len Brown then voted against it. Silly buggers or what?!

For:

Councillors: Dr Cathy Casey
Alf Filipaina
Penny Hulse
Mike Lee
Richard Northey
Wayne Walker
Against:

Mayor: Len Brown
Councillors: Cameron Brewer
Hon Chris Fletcher
Ann Hartley
Des Morrison
Calum Penrose
Dick Quax
Sharon Stewart
Penny Webster
George Wood

This bit is important. It relates to a report made bt Cr Richard Northey, from the Accountability and Performance Committee , which he chairs. Specifically, the defeated motion refers to a meeting of his Committee held  on 9 February 2012. See document here on page 15. The report states, in part,

“… The Port Company should make every effort to achieve a good new collective agreement because of the potential damage to the Auckland economy that could well result from acting to contract out the workforce.

[abridged]

… “I support the Port Company seeking to make work practices of the Port more flexible to make an already efficient Port of Auckland more efficient and effective. However, keeping a directly employed and fully engaged workforce is preferred because it materially  contributes to that objective much more than contracting it out. “

The full document is worth reading.

That is the report that 10 councillors (including the mayor) voted against. ‘Dem words in Cr Northey’s report – dey must be powerful ju-ju magic, to have rejected it’.

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16 March

A fund-raising event was held in Wellington on Friday evening. Primarily a social gathering, the 200+ who attended were addressed by CTU Secretary, Peter Conway.

Peter spoke with a calm, but confident voice and thanked people for coming to the fund-raiser. He said events like these, to support striking workers whose jobs were under threat,  was a “time when our values are tested“. He acknowledged that we were living in tough times but fundraisers were critical when faced with a well-resourced, determined, and often quite nasty opposition.

He added that for the most part, “workers are not at war with their employers – like some are” and that whilst this government had increased taxes for workers and beneficiaries – that the taxcuts had benefitted mostly the rich.

Peter referred to the manner in which industrial disputes were being fought, and that there was a “dirty” campaign to smear Helen Kelly and others, through certain internet websites. He added that Gary Parslow from the Maritime Union was working hard on behalf of his union members – and had not had a day of or weekend in three months.

Peter added that the good news was that a $2,000 dollar donation had been made to the Meatworkers Union in their fight against Talleys, and that morale on picket lines was still strong. He said we had to fight this, because casualisation would end up with “hours of work being txt-messaged to you – that’s where it’s heading“.

This blogger contributed to the collection-bucket being passed around – which was being filled generously by those in attendance.

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Nick Kelly, addressing the gathering.

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Delegates from striking Oceania Rest Home workers addressing the gathering. Morale was high, and workers were prepared for strike action on Monday, throughout the country.

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17 March

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And just in case the striking Port workers needed a morale boost, it came in the form of visiting Aussie rugby league players from  the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, who visited Ports of Auckland workers to show their support.

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Bulldogs on ports of auckland picket line.

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They also handed over a cheque for $20,000 to assist the workers’ fighting fund.  As some have remarked, Rugby League is the working man’s (and woman’s!) game!

NZ Maritime Union national president Garry Parsloe said,

It was great. They’re all the way over from Australia and came and stood beside working class people that are getting bashed around by their employer.”

Also on the picket line in Auckland, a couple of familiar faces,

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Bulldogs and actors on Ports of Auckland picket line.

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And yesterday, that tireless champion of New Zealand workers, Helen Kelly, was out and about on St Patrick’s Day! The power of the Irish be with ye, lassie!
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* * *

Upcoming

OCEANIA NATIONWIDE STOPWORKS

BE FAIR TO THOSE WHO CARE!

Hundreds and hundreds of SFWU and NZNO members from over 50 Oceania rest homes held nationwide stopworks on 14 March. In Auckland our members marched on Oceania Head Office.  Members overwhelmingly endorsed further strike action. More strike action is planned for 19 March.

Support our members standing up for fair pay and quality care. Look out for details of how you can support pickets on 19 March.

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* * *

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What You can do to help:

Every little bit mounts up into an irresistable power – People Power!

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Petition

Ports of Auckland workers are under attack from casualization and contracting out. Port workers have a right to secure employment. We want management to return to negotiations with the workers to agree on an outcome providing for secure employment and a productive and successful Port operation that benefits Aucklanders.”

Sign Petition Here

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Donate to the Fighting Fund,

Internet/Bank Depost:

The Maritime Union of New Zealand has established a fund for supporters of the Save Our Port campaign to make donations to. This is a major dispute and any assistance you can give is appreciated.

Bank of New Zealand account 02-0560-0450165-004

Account name MUNZ NATFIGHTINGFUND

Please make a note of your name and/or organization if you wish to when making your deposit.

If you wish to confirm your donation please email us with the details.

Via 0900 Automatic $5 donation (+ 50 cents charge)

0900 6877 678

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Buy a T-Shirt!

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We have a limited number of Save Our Port t-shirts left – Men’s sizes S, M, L and XL, $25 each – email julie.fairey@gmail.com to get yours.

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Stay staunch, folks – justice is on your side!

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= fs =

Al Capone lives again?

16 March 2012 6 comments

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"Hey, mack. Ya gots somethin' I want."

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There’s a old cliche in gangster movies that goes something like this,

Hey, Luigi, I gots an offer ya cain’t refuse!”

[cue machine guns being locked & loaded]

Ya dirty rat-

[rata-tata-tata-tata…]

It seems that our Chinese cuzzies have been watching a few too many gangster movies,

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Source

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Mr Cheng Li, the “political counsellor” at the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, has threatened warned ‘suggested’ that Chinese investment in NZ may be at risk if the Shanghai Pengxin deal to buy the 16 Crafar farms is not permitted to proceed.

Someone should tell Mr Li that,

  1. We are not a canton of China nor an occupied state like Tibet,
  2. New Zealanders don’t take kindly to being “leaned on”. We didn’t like it in 1984 and ’85  when  our American cuzzies   tried to pressure the Lange Government to abandon our nuclear-free policy – and we certainly don’t like it when someone  “heavys” us to make a deal we don’t want.
  3. This does not enamour New Zealanders to welcome overseas investment in our country.

It’s interesting that the OIO (Overseas Investment Office) stated that Shanghai Pengxin is a good corporate citizen. That may  certainly be, and the owners of that company are probably  Honourable Men.

The same, unfortunately cannot be said of the Chinese Government. “Monstering” us to sell, is simply  not a good look.

Go back to spying on Tibetan activists and Falun Gong members, Mr Li.

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= fs =

It’s official: the media honeymoon is over (#Rua)

15 March 2012 3 comments

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Oops!

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As I predicted over the last few months, John Key’s ‘honeymoon’ with the media is well and truly over.

The ridiculous saga of the ‘Teapot Tape’;  calling in Police; raiding media offices – these were the actions of a petty dictator from some Latin American banana republic,* who got peeved because someone didn’t salute his 30m statue in the city plaza fast enough and had the hapless citizen and his family chucked in jail…

Tonight, TV3 “found” a film-clip of John Key giving a speech (to a very unenthusiastic-looking PSA gathering).  Key’s comments probably left most TV3’s viewers  flabbergasted, spluttering into their early-evening milos, and quite bemused,

3 News has dug out never before seen footage of Mr Key promising “no job cuts” to the Public Service Association Conference back in 2008.

Since then 2,500 jobs have gone and hundreds more are being shed at Foreign Affairs, Defence and in the wider public sector.

In the same speech Mr Key also says selling assets like Mighty River Power will not make the economy better or the “boat go faster”.” – TV3 News

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The TV3 story, with video embedded…

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The highlights…

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Highlights from Key’s 2008 ‘no job cuts’ speech

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That, folks, was the all-too-rare sight of a politician caught with his pants down around his ankles.

Kudos to TV3 for this insightful, and revealing,  story on our current Prime Minister.

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* * *

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Previous “Minty Moments”…

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John’s Key’s promise NOT to raise GST,

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On 1 October 2010, Key’s government raised GST from 12.5 to 15%.

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John Key trying to explain away an email from a “mysterious friend” who claimed that Standard & Poors would have down-graded New Zealand’s credit-rating had Labour been in office,

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Standard & Poors quickly denied making any such comments.

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Additional

TV3: Economy on skids, cuts to come – Duncan Garner’s blog

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(* No offence intended to banana republic tinpot dictators – I actually like bananas quite a bit.)

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= fs =

David Parker has nailed it 100%

14 March 2012 1 comment

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This media report is worth reprinting in it’s entirety. Because, quite simply, David Parker is 100% on the nail on this issue,

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National’s neglectful attitude to lifting our savings rate is something New Zealand can ill afford, Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker says.

“Bill English might believe Kiwis have been ‘scared’ into saving by the global recession and won’t return to borrowing as the economy grows, but he’s obviously got blinkers on.

“The economic settings that led to excessive borrowing are still in place – speculation in housing and farmland for capital gain still attracts a tax advantage and National’s policies have made Kiwisaver less attractive,” David Parker said.

“Unless real policy changes are made New Zealand will just go back to borrowing too much and saving too little when the economy eventually recovers.

“The Australians, who already have a universal workplace savings scheme, are increasing the savings rate to 12 per cent, up from nine per cen. The government there knows that once the recession is over behaviour will return to type unless it makes the changes that are needed.

“Treasury forecasts show Mr English’s blind faith is misguided. It projects that every year, under National’s policies, the country will run a current account deficit and increase its international debt.

“By 2016, New Zealand will owe nearly $200 billion in net overseas debt, up $50 billion from today.

“And the main driver of that debt spiral is a lack of domestic savings, with banks and businesses borrowing from offshore or selling assets to foreign investors.

“This leads to some $10 billion a year flowing offshore in profits, the main contributor to our current account deficit, which is then funded by further borrowing and asset sales.

“The government needs to break the cycle with policies that ensure New Zealand permanently lifts its savings level. By not doing so it shows once again its unwillingness to deal with the structural problems in the economy,” David Parker said.

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Our Aussie cuzzies have approximately A$1.31 trillion saved in their compulsory super fund.,

Industry Overview

Total estimated superannuation assets increased to $1.31 trillion in the December 2011 quarter. Over the 12 months to December 2011 there was a 1.2 per cent increase in total estimated superannuation assets.” – Source

The clever buggers realised back in 1992 that a nation cannot be sovereign and self-sufficient if it has no savings, and has to rely on overseas borrowings.

We had our opportunity for a compulsory super fund in the 1970s, with a programme that was introduced by the Norman Kirk-led Labour government.

Unfortunately, Rob Muldoon promised to can the Fund and return the money to each contributor – if we voted for National in 1975. Well, we took the bait; voted National; Muldoon fulfilled his “promise”; and now New Zealand’s  “private-sector debt at 30 June 2010 was $315 billion and 166% of GDP“.

New Zealand First and Labour’s policy of a compulsory super fund makes good economic and social common-sense.

Unfortunately,  New Zealanders aren’t terribly good at making good economic and social common-sense decisions.

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* * *

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Additional

Key: Private sector debt NZ’s biggest concern

Government debt rises to $71.6 billion

Treasury:  Private-sector debt and factors affecting it

Who says the Govt doesn’t have a plan?

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= fs =


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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= fs =

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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= fs =

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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= fs =

Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

12 March 2012 2 comments

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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 anaffirmation, 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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10 March – Today was a True Labour Day!

11 March 2012 8 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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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 2 comments

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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 2 comments

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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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From the Magnificent – to the Malevolent; Human Nature at it’s best/worst.

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In  the 3 December 2007 edition of  ‘Time’, Jeffrey Kluger, made this observation,

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We’re a species that is capable of almost dumbfounding kindness. We nurse one another, romance one another, weep for one another. Ever since science taught us how, we willingly tear the very organs from our bodies and give them to one another. And at the same time, we slaughter one another. The past 15 years of human history are the temporal equivalent of those subatomic particles that are created in accelerators and vanish in a trillionth of a second, but in that fleeting instant, we’ve visited untold horrors on ourselves—in Mogadishu, Rwanda, Chechnya, Darfur, Beslan, Baghdad, Pakistan, London, Madrid, Lebanon, Israel, New York City, Abu Ghraib, Oklahoma City, an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania—all of the crimes committed by the highest, wisest, most principled species the planet has produced. That we’re also the lowest, cruelest, most blood-drenched species is our shame—and our paradox.”

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As most of us acknowledge, Kluger is quite right. Human beings are capable of the most heart-rending cruelty – and the most compassionate acts of love and selflessness. It’s hard to credit that we all belong to the same species, Homo Sapiens-Sapiens.

Today, I found two perfect examples of the incredible human capacity for cruelty and caring – not to ourselves – but to other species that co-habit this little blue-green planet.

Firstly, the Malevolent.

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“A man has been banned from owning an animal for 10 years for keeping an elderly dog in such poor condition it died within minutes of SPCA intervention.

It is one of two cases of Aucklanders being brought to justice for abusing pets this week.

Harley Love appeared in the Waitakere District Court yesterday charged with keeping an “animal alive when it is in such a condition that it is suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress”.

The 21-year-old was charged after an SPCA Auckland inspector was called to his Glen Eden home in January and found a 17-year-old German shepherd-type dog collapsed on the back deck.

The SPCA said the dog, named “Troy”, was very thin, covered in patches of live fleas and maggots and was lying in its own excrement.” 

Full Story

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And then this, the Magnificent,

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“The video shows dolphins appearing out of nowhere and suddenly beaching en masse on the Rio de Janeiro state coastline. They were apparently caught in a strong ocean current.

Stunned beachgoers in swimming trunks at first look on as the dolphins high-pitched squeals are heard. But within seconds, people quickly race into the surf to help the dolphins.

Dozens of people are seen swimming into the ocean and dragging the mammals by their tails in an effort to get them back into deeper waters.

And the effort this past Monday was successful. After all the dolphins were rescued, the crowd of dolphin-savers and onlookers broke into cheers.”

Source

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But perhaps the most significant event of heroism was this story, back in 1982. I first heard it thirty years ago, and the thought of the man in the river has stayed with me ever since,

On 13 January, 1982, an Air Florida Boeing 727 plunges into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., killing 78 people. The crash, caused by bad weather, took place only two miles from the White House.

The Air Florida flight took off from Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, with 74 passengers and 5 crew members on board. The plane had flown into Washington from Miami in the early afternoon and was supposed to return to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, after a short stop. However, snow in Washington temporarily closed the airport. When it reopened, the plane was de-iced with chemical anti-freeze, but the plane still had difficulty moving away from the gate due to the ice. When it eventually made it to the airport’s only usable runway, it was forced to wait 45 minutes for clearance to take off.

Not wanting to further delay the flight, the pilot, Larry Wheaton, did not return for more de-icing, and worse, failed to turn on the plane’s own de-icing system. In fact, the pilot and co-pilot discussed the situation, and the co-pilot said “It’s a losing battle trying to de-ice these things. It gives you a false sense of security, that’s all it does.” During the delay, however, ice was accumulating on the wings, and by the time the plane reached the end of the runway, it was able to achieve only a few hundred feet of altitude.

Thirty seconds later, the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River, less than a mile away from the runway. Seven vehicles traveling on the bridge were struck by the 727 and the plane fell into the freezing water. It was later determined that 73 of the people on board the plane died from the impact, leaving only six survivors in the river. In addition, four motorists died in the crash.

Terrible traffic in Washington that day made it difficult for rescue workers to reach the scene. Witnesses didn’t know what to do to assist the survivors who were stuck in the freezing river. Finally, a police helicopter arrived and began assisting the survivors in a very risky operation.

Two people in particular emerged as heroes during the rescue: Arland Williams and Lenny Skutnik. Known as the “sixth passenger,” Williams survived the crash, and passed lifelines on to others rather than take one for himself. He ended up being the only plane passenger to die from drowning. When one of the survivors to whom Williams had passed a lifeline was unable to hold on to it, Skutnik, who was watching the unfolding tragedy, jumped into the water and swam to rescue her. Both Skutnik and Williams (along with bystander Roger Olian) received the Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal. The bridge was later renamed the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge.”

Source

Human beings… with  our minds and hearts,  we are capable of such magnificent acts of goodness.

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A media release I would love to see from Len Brown…

9 March 2012 1 comment

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A press release I would love to see issued by Len Brown,

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I today issued shareholder instructions to the Board of Ports of Auckland Ltd to retract the redundancy notices issued to 300 striking Port workers. I have further instructed the Board representatives to return to mediation, and to begin negotiation anew, in good faith.

I will also be issuing a new directive to the Board that Auckland City Council’s expectations for a rate of return is not to exceed 6%.

I offer my sincere apoligies to the workers and their families for the length of time it has taken. Obviously my hands-off approach has not achieved the desired outcome, and instead I will be making my office available for ongoing negotiation and mediation between all parties.

Let me make this clear; I expect no one to lose their jobs in this dispute.

I do, however, expect a good outcome that benefits workers; their families; as well as the Port. But people will always come first under my administration.

That  is not negotiable.”

If Len Brown uses that, it will be free-of-charge on my part. I’d be happy to help.

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Categories: Social Issues Tags:

“We must depoliticize children’s issues…”

9 March 2012 3 comments

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An OECD comparitive table on international tax rates (OECD average income tax, %,  single person at 100% of average earnings, no child). Australian, Swedish, and New Zealand comparisons highlighted in red,

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OECD average income tax (%) single person at 100% of average earnings , no child sweden australia new zealand

Source

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As the table clearly shows,

  • New Zealand’s tax rate (single person at 100% of average earnings, no child) is lower than Australia,
  • New Zealand’s tax rate (single person at 100% of average earnings, no child) is marginally lower than Sweden,
  • The OECD average is dragged down by countries such as Mexico, Korea, and Greece,
  • During the Clark-led Labour Government (2000-08), New Zealand’s tax rate was consistantly lower than Australia.

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Comparing taxation with social outcomes for our children and families, we find the following. The table shows, with grim clarity, that we are lagging behind. Australian, Swedish, and New Zealand comparisons highlighted in red.,

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OECD child wellbeing sweden australia new zealand

Source

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Meanwhile, from “Inside Child Poverty New Zealand’s” Facebook page…

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” 63 people voted in this week’s Friday Poll on National’s Welfare reforms. 55 don’t like them, 5 do like them and 3 don’t know.

Me? I think yet again here are policies which do not think through what impact the economic policy will have on the current and future well being of the child.

All the long term research tells us that if we do not get the first 6 years of a child’s life right in terms of meaning health, social and emotional needs – we risk spending huge amounts of money in crisis management is the child grows into an adult with health problems and anti-social attitudes and quite possibly emotional scarring from having to live with strangers for the better part of each day from year 1.

Opting for short term populist solutions instead of long terms planning and ring fencing our children from the storms of politics is not statesmanship, it’s salesmanship .

The legacy of the 1991 mother of all budgets was a dramatic increase in the all the diseases of poverty that affect poor children most. What part of that do the current architects of welfare reform not understand?

We must depoliticize children’s issues, come to a common cross party agreement about the appropriate level of community responsibility for ALL our children, work out the most cost effect method of meeting those needs and then ring fence it so no future governments can mess with it. This is the Swedish system. It is why they are No2 in the OECD for child well being and we are No 28 with only Turkey and Mexico below us.”

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Bryan Bruce is 100% correct. The OECD stats paint a grim picture of Sweden achieving much superior outcomes for their children than we do. (The link to the relevant report is given below, under “Resources” – it’s worth having a look.)

This is one table, showing data on “Comparative policy-focused child well-being in 30 OECD countries”. New Zealand and Swedish comparitive rankings are underlined in red,

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Comparative policy-focused child well-being in 30 OECD countries Australia New Zealand Sweden

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And a similar table, this time compiled from UNICEF data. Whilst New Zealand and Australia are not represented on this graph, it is interesting to note that the Scandinavian social-democracies rate consistantly better for children than the market-led, more capitalist-oriented nations of America and Britrain (both of which have considerable problems with poverty and other social problems),

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Only the de-politicisation of child poverty can achieve practical, serious, and long-lasting solutions to this growing problem. National and Labour must work together if this is to be achieved.

Both parties have achieved cross-Party concensus on issues such as superannuation and our Nuclear Free policy. We need to be asking the question; why can’t the same be done for child poverty?

If Sweden and the other Scandinavian social-democracies can achieve a measure of success in this area – we need to be asking ourselves; why can’t we?

This issue is not beyond our means, abilities, and wealth to address. We have all that.

What’s missing is one thing to resolve this problem; the will to do it.

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Additional

Food parcel families made ‘poor choices’, says John Key

No track kept of ‘lost’ kids

New Cabinet must get busy working for children

Fear of dangerous rift from wealth gap

Children absent from new welfare policy

Resources

OECD Report: Comparative Child Well-being across the OECD

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A Slave By Any Other Name…

9 March 2012 5 comments

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slavery

slav·er·y

[sley-vuh-ree, sleyv-ree]
noun
1. the condition of a slave;  bondage.
2. the keeping of slaves  as a practice or institution.
3. a state of subjection like that of a slave: He was kept in slavery by drugs.
4. severe toil; drudgery.
Origin:
1545–55; slave  + -ery

Related forms
pre·slav·er·y, adjective, noun

Synonyms
1.  thralldom, enthrallment. Slavery, bondage, servitude  refer to involuntary subjection to another or others. Slavery  emphasizes the idea of complete ownership and control by a master: to be sold into slavery. Bondage  indicates a state of subjugation or captivity often involving burdensome and degrading labor: in bondage to a cruel master. Servitude  is compulsory service, often such as is required by a legal penalty: penal servitude. 4.  moil, labor.

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doublethink

dou·ble·think

[duhb-uhl-thingk]
noun
the acceptance of two contradictory ideas or beliefs at the same time.
Origin:
double  + think;  coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984  (1949)

– n    
deliberate, perverse, or unconscious acceptance or promulgation of conflicting facts, principles, etc

Dictionary.com

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Last week, right-wing blogger; pollster; and National Party activist, David Farrar wrote this eye-opening piece for the NZ Herald,

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Full Story

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The story revolves around abuse, violence,  and exploitation of foreign seamen on Foreign Charter Vessels, as this Department of Labour media statement outlined on 5 March,

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Department of Labour takes tough action against Foreign Charter Vessel

The Department of Labour has found that there was major non-compliance with the Code of Practice on Foreign Fishing Crew and the Approval in Principle (AIP) to employ foreign crew by the New Zealand charterers of the ship, the Shin Ji.

The Department started its investigation into the Shin Ji after crew walked off the ship in protest at the conditions they were facing last June.

The Code of Practice requires payment of the minimum wage plus $2 per hour for actual hours worked, but in no case less than 42 hours per week over the course of the engagement. Deductions may not take wages below the minimum wage for all hours worked.

The New Zealand Charter Party is required to keep accurate records and make these records available to the Department on request, but insufficient documents were provided to make a full financial assessment on crew remuneration. As a result the Department was unable to verify whether the crew of the Shin Ji had been paid their minimum requirements or whether AIP and Code of Practice conditions were met.

In addition, there were allegations of mistreatment made by several crew that present a prima facie case that the provisions of the Code of Practice in relation to fishers’ welfare were not met. A final conclusion could not be made in this area as the New Zealand Charter Party Administrator, Tu’ere Fishing, failed to respond to these allegations.

The Department has now decided that all work visas under the most recent AIP will be cancelled.

The acting head of Immigration New Zealand, Steve Stuart, says the sanctions imposed by the Department show how seriously breaches of the Code of Practice are taken and reflect a tougher approach by the Department.

“Our auditors have carried out a meticulous and thorough investigation and it shows very clearly that the New Zealand Charter Party failed to comply with the Code,” Mr Stuart says.

The Government has already accepted a recommendation by the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels (FCVs) to update the Code of Practice and strengthen the immigration approval process for crew.

The Department is also to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement of FCVs and increase the thoroughness of inspections. The Department has improved its auditing system, with the first audits being undertaken by external auditors next month.

Source

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A Ministerial Inquiry released a similar report, highly critical of crew-abuses on FCVs,

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Foreign Charter Vessels Inquiry report released

Thursday, 1 March 2012, 12:43 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon David Carter
Minister for Primary Industries
Hon Kate Wilkinson
Minister of Labour

The Government has resolved to take a stronger line on the operation of foreign charter vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters, say Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The Ministers today released the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels.

The Inquiry, which was initiated by the Government last year, focused on several issues, including labour standards and protecting New Zealand’s reputation.

Mr Carter says the Inquiry panel has done a thorough job.

“The report is clear that the issues are not widespread in the New Zealand commercial fishing industry, but they are serious where they occur and need to be addressed in a co-ordinated manner, backed by legislative change,” says Mr Carter.

The 15 recommendations touch on a wide range of ministerial portfolios, including fisheries, labour, immigration, transport and foreign affairs and trade.

The Government has already decided to accept in principle, and act on, the Inquiry Panel’s first six recommendations.

The first three recommendations are for practical improvements that can be addressed quickly, and in some cases are already being made.

“The recommendations include updating the Code of Practice and strengthening the immigration approval process – both of which will help ensure better conditions for workers on FCVs,” says Ms Wilkinson.

“We will also be adopting a recommendation that the New Zealand fishing companies chartering foreign vessels have to show the Code is being followed. This is a significant move as it puts the onus on those companies, rather than the Department of Labour, which currently has to prove the Code has been breached.”

The Department of Labour is also to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs and increase the frequency and thoroughness of inspections.

MAF is to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs, including placing an observer on all FCVs fishing in New Zealand waters and considering non-fisheries offences when making FCV registration decisions.

Maritime New Zealand is to strengthen enforcement of FCV compliance with maritime safety standards.

Recommendations 4 to 6 propose closer inter-agency co-operation, to be overseen by an inter-agency steering group. This includes setting up a pilot programme for at-sea monitoring of compliance with fisheries, vessel safety and labour standards – targeting high-risk FCVs.

The remaining recommendations cover legislative amendments, ratifying international conventions, and significant policy changes. The Government is further considering the Inquiry Panel’s report and these recommendations before announcing any decisions.

View Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels Report:

http://www.dol.govt.nz/News/Media/2012/foreign-charter-vessels-2012-ministerial.asp

http://www.maf.govt.nz/news-resources/news

Source

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Foreign Charter Vessels are a means for local fishing companies to use cheap labour to fish New Zealand’s 200km territorial waters. It can be a profitable operation, paying crews from mostly Third World or developing countries such as Indonesia, much lower rates of pay than their New Zealand counterparts. (Congratulations to ourselves – we’ve found a way to import “sweat shops” from Asia to our territorial waters.)

The Seafood Industry Council (SEAFic) made this statement about Foreign Charter Vessels on their website. It is important to note that, as SEAFic stated quite clearly,

A charter vessel from another country is not foreign countries catching our fish – it is a hired vessel working for a New Zealand-owned company.

This is important because although the “charter vessel is from another country” – it is still covered by New Zealand law. That includes labour legislation such as minimum wages. The crew cannot be paid under the minimum wage ($13.50 per hour) whilst operating in our territory. SEAFic goes on to’paint a picture’ outlining the obligations of Foreign Charter Vessels to follow NZ law,

Chartering a vessel to catch your quota is like hiring a bus to get your sports team to another town.  You wouldn’t buy a bus just for the one trip.  The bus driver, who is trained and qualified to do the job, comes with the bus.  You cannot ask the driver to do anything outside the law.  You cannot, for example, let the driver continue driving without break for excessive hours, even if he or she wants to.

Furthermore, as SEAFic explained,

The crews of charter vessels are entitled to the same employment rights and conditions as anyone working in New Zealand. However, the crews do not qualify for social support services or ACC and therefore do not cost the taxpayer.

And,

The crews of charter vessels are entitled to the same employment rights and conditions as anyone working in New Zealand. However, the crews do not qualify for social support services or ACC and therefore do not cost the taxpayer.

The Ministerial Inquiry found that not only were FCVs violently abusing their crews, but were not paying them properly. Any complaint from a crewmember often resulted in that crewman being removed from the Vessel; shipped back home; and not paid for any of his work,

The terms of the first contract, the “real” one, would later haunt him. In it, IMS spelled out terms with no rights. In addition to the agent’s commission, Yusril would surrender 30 percent of his salary, which IMS would hold unless the work was completed. He would be paid nothing for the first three months, and if the job were not finished to the fishing company’s satisfaction, Yusril would be sent home and charged more than $1,000 for the airfare. The meaning of “satisfactory” was left vague. The contract said only that Yusril would have to work whatever hours the boat operators demanded. ” – Source

Crew members were also abused, assaulted, and sexually harassed,

The boatswain would grab crew members’ genitals as they worked or slept. When the captain of the ship drank, he molested some of the crew, kicking those who resisted. As nets hauled in the catch — squid, ling, hoki, hake, grouper, southern blue whiting, jack mackerel, and barracuda — the officers shouted orders from the bridge. They often compelled the Indonesians to work without proper safety equipment for up to 30 hours, swearing at them if they so much as asked for coffee or a bathroom break. Even when fishermen were not hauling catches, 16-hour workdays were standard. ” – Ibid

This abuse came to the attention of the US media and various companies that bought the product that had been caught and processed by FCV crews. The article below was written for a major US business website, and reveals cases of violence and exploitation on FCVs contracted to New Zealand companies, and working in New Zealand’s territorial waters. I encourage people to read it,

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Full Story

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To put it mildly, American clients and the US government were not happy. No company wants to have it’s reputation tarnished by allegations of slave labour associated with their product. Customers tend to feel queasy buying something they know was produced by another human being who was treated as a slave. Not a good look.

And up till now, New Zealand has being getting away with it because,

Asked about allegations that FCVs in New Zealand employ slave labor, [Ashley] Hawkins said [U.S. supermarket chain] Whole Foods is “in compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, New Zealand is not considered high-risk.” “- Ibid

It seems that our luck has run out, and National has had to sit up and take notice,

“The Government has resolved to take a stronger line on the operation of foreign charter vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters, say Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The Ministers today released the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels.

The Inquiry, which was initiated by the Government last year, focused on several issues, including labour standards and protecting New Zealand’s reputation.

Mr Carter says the Inquiry panel has done a thorough job.

“The report is clear that the issues are not widespread in the New Zealand commercial fishing industry, but they are serious where they occur and need to be addressed in a co-ordinated manner, backed by legislative change,” says Mr Carter.” – Source

Which brings us back to Mr Farrar’s opinion-piece in the NZ Herald on 2 March.

As described at the beginning of this piece, Farrar is a right wing blogger and National Party activist. Which makes his ‘Herald’ opinion piece somewhat more surprising.

Farrar repeats the background litany of abuse that the FCV fishermen have been subjected to,

A failure to pay minimum wages under NZ law (which the FCVs have agreed to do) is the least of the abuses. They get told they will lose the little pay they do get unless they lie to the NZ authorities about how much they are paid. Any complaints can see them lose bonds worth more than their earnings. They are forced to work long and dangerous hours with no regard for safety.

But even worse than there, there are several documented cases of physical violence, sexual abuse and even rape of the (mainly Indonesian) staff who work on these vessels. They are basically treated as slaves during their incarceration on the vessels. Actually many slaves in the Roman republic were treated better, than what has happened to these workers in our territorial waters.

At this point, it is worth reminding ourselves that Farrar is a member of National – a right wing political party that does not like trade unions very much. As National MP, Jami-Lee Ross, said on 11 January, about the Ports of Auckland industrial dispute,

This is in fact a story of the Maritime Union biting the hand that feeds them. It is a story of industrial action that, if left to go on much longer, could have disastrous consequences for the Ports of Auckland…

Up until recently, cool heads and rational people sitting around negotiating tables have meant that little focus has been placed on the role that unions play in society. However, with the bare-faced mockery that the Maritime Union is making of civilised negotiations New Zealanders will soon begin to question what position unions should hold in the modern Kiwi workplace.” – Source

Traditionally, National  has always been anti-Union and pro-business. That’s just the way it is.

Farrar has stated that,

“I do not regard National as always right, but it is the party which I believe gives me the greatest opportunity to achieve the New Zealand I want.” – Source

So what to make of Farrar lamenting the condition of workers on FCVs,

These abuses have gone on for far too long. New Zealand has even ended up on the watch list of the US State Department whose annual Trafficking in Persons Report mentions fishing in New Zealand as a problem area.”

Or this part, which bears a remarkable similarity to Union-style concerns,

New Zealand law and policies require staff on board FCVs to be paid the at least $2 an hour over the New Zealand minimum wage, or $2,700 a month gross for a 42 hour week. But in reality many of the Indonesian fishers get paid little more than $150 a month or less than $1 an hour. They get told they must sign two employment contracts – one for the NZ authorities, and the real one which details a much lower rate of pay.”

If one were to be generous, it could be asumed that the sickening abuse of FCV fishermen is a step too far even for a hardened rightwinger like Farrar. A free labour market market is one thing – but slavery? Nah, that’s the line he will not cross. In fact, Farrar even says,

“They are basically treated as slaves during their incarceration on the vessels. Actually many slaves in the Roman republic were treated better, than what has happened to these workers in our territorial waters.

It is interesting that Farrar uses the term “slaves” – twice! – and once in the title of his opinion piece! – but more on that shortly.

If, however, one were to read “between the lines”, certain aspects of his piece offer another motive for his (faux?) concerns,

These vessels fish in our exclusive economic zone, on behalf of NZ companies that have quota allocations in different fish stocks…

New Zealand has even ended up on the watch list of the US State Department whose annual Trafficking in Persons Report mentions fishing in New Zealand as a problem area…

The Ministerial inquiry has not recommended phasing out the use of FCVs. The main reason for this is it seems there is not enough capacity in New Zealand to fish all of our quota ourselves. This surprises me with so many people unemployed, but I guess not many people want to be out at sea for weeks or months at a time. There are also issues of capital and specialist equipment…

This means that even these changes may prove ineffective, and the eventual solution may have to be require all vessels fishing in our EEZ to be New Zealand flagged ships. This would have adverse economic consequences…”

Taking these comments into consideration, the subtext appears to be  one that is more alligned with economic concerns – i.e. “adverse economic consequences” as Farrar himself says at the end.

So, which is it; a hidden streak of concern for workers and their rights which heretofore has never been seen in David Farrar?

Or a deep concern that these abuses are an annoying distraction which might have “adverse economic consequences” on our profit/loss end-of-year bottomline?

Luckily, we have Mr Farrar’s own blog, Kiwiblog, upon which to draw further insights from.

David Shearer says Labour is not taking sides the in Ports of Auckland dispute, but here are two of his MPs on the picket line.

I guess they have no choice as the Maritime Union is actually an affiliate member of the Labour Party, and one of their donors. Not even the documented examples of union hostility to female and non European workers is enough to shake their support of the union.” – Labour Not taking sides, 27 February 2012

Strangely, Farrar states that “here are two of his MPs on the picket line” at the Maritime Union/Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) dispute – as if it were a bad thing?

Can it be that Mr Farrar disapproves, or may even be hostile, to the POAL workers who are on strike? Let’s keep reading further blogposts from Mr Farrar,

Phil Twyford blogs:

Len Brown was elected the people’s mayor on a wave of support across west and south Auckland. People opted decisively for his plan for public transport, and a modern inclusive vision for the city that embraced the young, the brown and working people.

Which makes it puzzling that he is choosing to stand by and watch while his port subsidiary tries to contract out 300 jobs. …

It is all the more puzzling given the Mayor’s commitment to reducing social inequality, reflected in the excellent Auckland Plan. It is hard to see how we are going to build a more prosperous and inclusive city by stripping the city’s employees of their work rights and job security. …

It is time for Len Brown and his Council to rethink their demand for a 12% return, and replace it with something reasonable and not excessive. He should tell the port company casualisation is not an acceptable approach to employment relations in a port owned by the people of Auckland.

This is the same Phil Twyford who spent years saying that Wellington should not dictate to Auckland, yet is now trying to bully Len Brown into putting the interests of the Labour Party (for the Maritime Union is part of the Labour Party) ahead of the interests of Auckland.

Len knows he would be toast if he kneecapped a Council subsidiary, just to please the Labour caucus in Wellington.” – Maritime Union wants total control, 29 February 2012

After weeks and months of strikes, and a growing loss of business to other ports, it was inevitable that Ports of Auckland would go down the only viable path left to them, which is contracting out.

The Herald reports:

Ports of Auckland said the decision to introduce “competitive stevedoring ” was partly the result of the impact of long running industrial action on its business.

Redundancies would begin later next week, with striking staff encouraged to apply for new positions, he said.

“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,” he said.

Ports of Auckland Chairman Richard Pearson said the company’s priority was to win back lost business.

“This decision will reassure the wider market and customers that we plan to achieve a sustainable lift in the port’s competitiveness as soon as possible.

One can’t continue with a situation where you get paid for 43 hours and only actually work 28.” – Maritime Union succeeds in getting their workers sacked, 7 March 2012

Oh, dear, not looking terribly good for poor Mr Farrar. His comments above do not seem to be very sympathetic to striking workers – workers who are not seeking higher pay as their main claim, but are desperately trying  to stop POAL employers from casualising the work force and contracting out their jobs to stevedoring companies.

And next,

Last night on 3 News they interviewed a couple of staff working at the Port of Tauranga. What a stark difference it was to the Ports of Auckland. They talked of a culture of getting the job done, and even pride about increasing efficiency.  An extract:

Throughout the Auckland dispute, the Port Of Tauranga has been held up as an example of how Auckland could operate – profits are at a record high, and the port seems to have a contented workforce which gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

David Hone has worked at the port for 18 years and, like 90 percent of employees, is a shareholder in the company.

He says “working in a place that you’re part owner [of]” means he’s more invested in the success of the business.

It’s one of the key reasons the port is so successful, according to chief executive Mark Cairns.

“If you have a stake in a company your behaviour changes when you’re an employee,” he says.

I’m a huge fan of employees being shareholders, and POT seem to be a great example of how well this can work. It is such a shame that Mike Lee a few years back deprived POAL employees of this opportunity.

Profits and efficiency do not need to be the enemy of having a happy workforce. It is just when dinosaur unions get in the way, that it does not happen. Look what has happened at POAL since the unionised staff went off the job:

Ports of Auckland chairman Richard Pearson says flexible rosters increase productivity and the 50 non-union workers have proved that.

“We’re operating at a 25 percent production improvement on what we were achieving 3 or 4 weeks ago before the strike,” he says.

“They don’t want to go slow so they can get another shift, they just want to work.”

Imagine the incentive at the moment. If you can delay a ship for another 90 minutes, then you get an extra eight hours pay.

There’s a lot of focus at the moment on the possible expansion of the Port into the harbour more. POAL makes the point that if they can lift labour productivity by a conservative 20% it would give them the equivalent of two new berths, allowing the Port to accommodate five extra ship calls each week.” – What a difference, 8 March 2012

Ok, it’s fairly clear that David Farrar has little or no concern for workers on the Ports of Auckland – workers who are his fellow Kiwis.

So one has to view his faux concern for workers rights on Foreign Charter Vessels with a little more than just a passing suspicion.

Farrar stated that,

“They are basically treated as slaves during their incarceration on the vessels. Actually many slaves in the Roman republic were treated better, than what has happened to these workers in our territorial waters.

It is interesting that Farrar refer to the term “slaves” in the context of the Indonesian fishermen on Korean FCVs.

The Maritime Union – representing it’s members – is struggling to preserve hard-won conditions that have been built up over the years. Without a Union, workers in this country would be abused; cheated out of wages – or paid a subsistance sum; exploited; over-worked; expected to work in dangerous conditions, risking injury or worse; and generally treated like… slaves.

The Indonesian fishermen had no Union to protect their rights. And strangely, New Zealand observers had reportedly “seen nothing untoward,

When asked for comment, Chief Executive Officer Eric Barratt said Sanford’s observers, which the company placed on all their foreign-chartered vessels (FCVs), reported that the ships “don’t have any issues with labor abuse.” – Source

Remarkably, Farrar sees nothing incongruous with his clearly-stated anti-Union beliefs.

Either he is incredibly naive – or else is a skilled practitioner at the art of ‘doublethink’. Perhaps he truly believes that workers do not need the protection of trade unions? And that all employers will treat their workers fairly?

Shall we ask some crewmen from Korean FCVs whether they need a Union or not?

Or perhaps they can rely on their Korean ‘masters’ to treat them well and pay them fairly?

What say you, Mr Farrar?

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Addendum

In October last year,  SEAFic stated,

‘We need more cheap foreign fishermen’

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New Zealand’s fishing industry needs more cheap Asian labour not less, the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) told a ministerial inquiry into the use of foreign charter vessels.

FCVs, flagged in mainly Asian states, operate New Zealand’s deep sea fishery with around 2000 low wage crews from Third World countries.

SeaFIC says New Zealand-flagged fishing boats cannot get local crews and they now want to import low wage labour as well.” – Source

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Previous Blogposts

Is this where New Zealand is heading?

Foreign fishing boats, Hobbits, and the National Guvmint

Additional Reading

Radio NZ: Parliament debates Hobbit law change

Helen Kelly (NZ Council of Trade Unions): The Hobbit Dispute

Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill

Legislative History: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 No 120, Public Act

Slavery and Food Security: The Fishing Fleet

‘Model’ fishers face grim charges

References

NZ Govt: Ministerial inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels

Seafood Industry Council: Charter Vessels

Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) Foreign Charter Vessels Submission

Seafood industry fact file

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Petition: Support for Mojo Mathers *** Update ***

8 March 2012 6 comments

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Support for Mojo Mathers and the wider Deaf and hearing-impaired

community

Paul Gibson, the Disability Rights Commissioner, has called for the Speaker Lockwood Smith and Parliamentary Services to accommodate Mojo Mathers’ need for live electronic notetaking. Article 21 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which New Zealand has ratified, specifically deal with the right of persons with disabilities to access information intended for the public in a timely manner without additional cost, and the right to serve effectively in public life.

Many other figures and organisations have come out in support of Mojo Mathers.

The Human Rights Commission currently has a discussion paper out for consultation called The Wider Journey, which deals with accessibility issues for disabled people in the physical environment, in accessing information, and in the political process. If you have experience with disability, hearing-related or otherwise, I recommend you make a submission to this report detailing obstacles in the political process.

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Sign Petition Here

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* * *  Update  * * *

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from:    Suzanne Culph, Change.org mail@change.org
to:    fmacskasy@yahoo.com
date:    Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:00 PM
subject:Speaker’s answer

Frank, huge news!

Late last night, Speaker Lockwood Smith announced that he will fund the note-taking Mojo Mathers needs to do her job until a permanent solution is found.

What’s more, he’s promised to develop live closed captioning of Parliament — something that would give over 700,000 hearing impaired New Zealanders unprecedented access to their democracy.

It’s been an uphill battle to get this far. From the start, Speaker Smith was reluctant to commit to the funds, and claimed that the decision was out of his hands. But then student Merrin Macleod started a Change.org petition, and 6,200 people — including you! — joined her.

Merrin started her petition after hearing that New Zealand’s first deaf MP was essentially being asked to pay $30,000 to participate in Parliament. She spent hours contacting media, friends and everyone she could think of to spread the word.

Thousands signed, driving media coverage in the New Zealand Herald and across the country. And last week it was tabled in Parliament — in front of MPs, a packed press gallery and Speaker Lockwood Smith himself.

The pressure is working. Yesterday, the Speaker committed to making Parliament “more accessible to the hearing impaired community at large,” and to “make sure Mojo is getting all the support she needs” — including funds for her note-takers.

There’s still a way to go before ongoing funding is guaranteed in a way that is fair for all MPs with a disability — the long term issue is now before the Standing Orders Committee, which is yet to deliver its verdict. But expert legal advice suggests that there is every reason for the committee to grant the funding.

And with thousands of New Zealanders uniting behind Merrin’s petition, and intense media attention on Speaker Lockwood Smith, it will be near-impossible for decision-makers to avoid the issue.

The progress is proof that ordinary people coming together really can make a difference. And by sending a powerful message in support of Mojo Mathers, everyday people are helping pave the way towards equal access in the country’s highest institutions.

Thanks for being part of this,

Suzanne and the Change.org team

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And a really, really B I G thank you to everyone who read this (or heard about the petition from some other source) and put their name to the petition. People-power can work!

– Frank

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Appeal to Solidarnosc!

8 March 2012 2 comments

An appeal to our Polish cuzzies,to support Auckland’s port workers,

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Attack on New Zealand Trade Union – Can you assist?

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Date: Thursday, 8 March, 2012 3:44 PM

From:  “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>

To: zagr@solidarnosc.org.pl

Subject: Attack on New Zealand Trade Union – Can you assist?

Fraternal greetings from New Zealand!

As throughout the world, New Zealand is experiencing it’s own share of industrial conflict.We have experienced lock-outs of workers at meat-processing plants (http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/business/6523789/Affco-to-lockout-more-workers); strikes by aged-care workers who are on low wages(http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/6536400/Resident-joins-resthome-workers-on-strike); and just recently, 300 maritime workers were sacked by their employer, Ports of Auckland Ltd – a company that is owned by the Auckland City Council (http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/business/6537074/Fight-on-as-Auckland-wharfies-made-redundant).

https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/workers-lose-their-jobs-day-of-shame/

The employers (POAL, Ports of Auckland Ltd) is attempting to smash the maritime union’s presence on the Port and is attempting to casualise the workforce and contract out the work to private stevedoring companies.

This would effectively reduce wages and destroy unionised representation on the wharves in Auckland City.

In 1981, when Solidarnosc was under attack by the Kremlin’s puppets, New Zealanders rallied to help the people of Poland. When General Jaruzelski declared martial law, New Zealanders marched in support of Polish workers – with an estimated 10,000 people taking part in Wellington City.

We ask that Solidarnosc offer some measure of support to striking maritime workers who have lost their jobs, and that you ask the Mayor of Auckland (Len Brown) and the Prime Minister of New Zealand (John Key) to intercede to save these workers’ jobs;

Len Brown
Mayor of Auckland
Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

John Key
Prime Minister of New Zealand
john.key@parliament.govt.nz

Any moral support that you can provide will be greatly appreciated and will contain great symbolism, considering New Zealand’s support for Solidarnosc in the 1980s.

In solidarity with our Polish cousins,
-Frank Macskasy

Blogger, “Frankly Speaking”
fmacskasy.wordpress.com

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