Posts Tagged ‘contracting out’

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Wha)

13 March 2012 2 comments



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POAL announced no change in their position; the  sackings of 292 port workers would not be rescinded and casualisation and contracting out would proceed as planned.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



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,


ministry of transport container pruductivity at nz ports october 2011


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’).”




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,


Imports drive Ports of Auckland profit higher


Increased traffic at Ports of Auckland


Ports of Auckland profits hold steady


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,


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– “


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.)


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


ports of auckland facebook page


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,



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“,



292 port workers would be happy to hear that.


*** Update ***

Union seeks injunction to halt wharfie dismissals



= fs =

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Toru)

12 March 2012 5 comments


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


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.


Incomes for Various

(All figures gross)




Graeme Hart, NZ’s richest man



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



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



Not including perks & allowances
Cabinet Ministers



Not including perks & allowances
Members of Parliament



Not including perks & allowances
POAL CEO Tony Gibson



Not including perks & allowances
POAL Board Directors

$70,833 (ea.)


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



* 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


All figures based on sources below.



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


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!



= fs =

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Rua)

10 March 2012 2 comments



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


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‘!


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


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


3.  Reinstate the sacked maritime workers!


4.  Engage in meaningful negotiations!


5.  Len Brown: End this farce now!



* * *



Ports of Auckland protest action reaches Sydney



Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Tahi)

10 March 2012 2 comments





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,


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 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.



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


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,


Full Story


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?


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.


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!



Workers lose their jobs – Day of Shame!

7 March 2012 7 comments



This is a day of shame for New Zealand.

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

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

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

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



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

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

It’s time to play hard-ball;

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

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


* * *


Message posted on John Key’s Facebook page,



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


* * *


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




* * * Update! * * *


Blogger makes Appeal to Solidarnosc for Support!



Firefighters to join port protest rally

Firefighters could be next for union action