Posts Tagged ‘PoAL’

2017: Parting shots from the Right: tantrums, bloated entitlements, and low, low expectations for our Youth – toru

8 January 2018 2 comments




Jamiebaby want Yum-Yums!!



As  Parliament recently debated the new government’s Families Package Bill, some National MPs were increasingly upset that Urgency had briefly taken the debate into their precious lunch period;



Jamie Lee-Ross became hysterical at the prospect of his ‘lunchies’ being delayed, and screamed at the Parliamentary Chair, Adrian Rurawhe;

“ Point of order, point of order, I have a right to raise a point of order, I have a right to raise a point of order, point of order. This is outrageous, I have a right to raise a point of order. We have gone past 1 o’clock. It is in the Standing Orders of this Parliament, that there is the break for the lunch break.”

As blogger  “Micky Savage” aptly put it for The Standard;

“ But with a late showing Moore’s antics were put to one side and National’s Jami Lee-Ross is this week’s doofus of the week. He earned this prize after putting on a huge hissy fit in Parliament after his lunch hour was delayed by 5 minutes. Refusing to accept Jacinda Ardern’s hope for a bi partisan effort to address child poverty is bad enough, trying to stonewall the enacting bill’s passage through the house was even worse, but throwing a temper tantrum because your lunch hour has been slightly delayed takes the cake.

Watch the video and marvel at the intensity of the temper tantrum thrown by him in raising the point of order. If my three year old behaved like this I would be embarrassed.”



The  irony should not be lost on us all that the Families Package Bill – once passed – would help lift an estimated 88,000 families out of the trap that is poverty.  This trap being one of neo-liberalism’s most vile legacies.

385,000 families would receive an extra $75 a week for groceries, power, accommodation, and other necessities that make the difference between living in dignity – or desperation.

If successful, this one single policy will be a crowning achievement for Labour, NZ First, and the Green Party. The coalition would have done more in a couple of months what National failed to achieve in nine years.

It is true that National MPs’s lunch was indeed delayed. But only because of their own constant filibustering, to stall passage of the bill, as reported by Fairfax’s Laura Walters;

Rurawhe stopped MPs from delivering their points of order because he believed they were “repetitive and trivial”, and were being used by MPs to re-litigate the same points, in an effort to filibuster the Families Package (Income and Tax Benefits) Bill.

The obscenity of this ploy is hard to overlook; right-wing MPs obstructing a bill to alleviate poverty and then complaining their lunch was being delayed.

This is the soulless nature of the National Party. They are prepared to play political games and indulge in childish petty point-scoring – even though  it obstructs efforts to alleviate poverty in this country.

Even more scandalous is that no one in the mainstream media (including the much vaunted Radio NZ) has picked up this crass and utterly selfish abuse of parliamentary process.

But an even more twisted irony is Jamie Lee-Ross complaining about an industrial relations matter; a lunch break. More than one commentator on Fairfax, The Standard, and elsewhere have pointed out Lee-Ross’s hypocrisy on this issue. From  Fairfax’s comments section;





From the Youtube comments;




And from The Standard;




And they’re all correct.  Jami-Lee Ross has a vindictive, hostile view of trade unions.In January 2012, Ross was scathing of the Maritime Union in it’s dispute with Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL);

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.

In 2013, during the POAL-Maritime Union dispute,  Ross admitted that he had been colluding with Ports of Auckland management to draft his proposed  strike-breaking legislative amendment, the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill.The Bill would have permitted scab labour to be hired to replace striking workers.

On TV3’s The Nation on 22 June 2013, Ross confirmed that he had been in talks with employers during the height of the industrial dispute between the POAL and MUNZ (Maritime Union);



The questioning from Rachel Smalley elicited revelations that Ross has discussed his Bill with Ports of Auckland, in direct response to the strike at the time;

@3.26, Smalley asked Ross,

Where does this Bill have it’s origins? 


… is it on the wharves of the Ports of Auckland, is that where it’s origins lie?

Ross  deflected, obviously realising that his collusion with POAL management had been uncovered. @4.00 Smalley repeated her direct questioning, not willing to let Ross off-the-hook with mealy-mouthed platitudes about “protecting low paid workers” and “freedom of choice” bullshit;

Have you discussed this Bill with the Ports of Auckland?

Caught in the vice of her softly-spoken questions, Ross admitted the obvious;

Oh a long time ago, ah, that was an issue that was raised…


… Oh might have been when the industrial dispute was in full swing. ”

When asked by Smalley , “What was the Port’s input into the Bill?“, Ross confirmed  POAL’s involvement;

The Ports indicated that during a strike like every organisation that is affected by a strike they’re unable to keep their business going, in the same manner that able to before.

It is hardly a mystery that National and big business connive together to suppress union activity in industrial relations. For the first time, though, New Zealanders watched  a Tory MP admit admit this collusion, in full public view. (For which Ross probably received a right royal bollicking from his Ministerial superiors.)

Unsurprisingly, as it became clear that Ross’s Bill was weaponised legislation,with the aim of curtailing union influence, it was defeated on it’s first Reading in November 2013.

However, National’s successor to Ross’s doomed Bill – the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2014 – passed through all stages of Parliament and made law by Assent by November 2014.

As well as the notorious  “Continuity of employment – Part 6A” section (which denied guaranteed continuity of employment for workers if a small/medium business changed ownership), the  new provisions attacked workers’ conditions such as meal breaks. The power to reduce or remove meal breaks was handed to the employer on a…well… plate.

Even MoBIE could not sugar-coat the “flexibility” of the so-called “reforms” and it became clear that employers could dictate when and how (if at all) employers had meal breaks;

The changes say:

  • when employers can make reasonable restrictions on rest and meal breaks
  • employers can specify when breaks are taken, if employees and employers cannot agree on when and how long breaks should be
  • that an employer is exempt from giving breaks – when employees agree to reasonable compensation or where the employer cannot reasonably give the employee rest and meal breaks

Given National’s anti-union legislation where bosses now call the shots on meal breaks, it appears that  the new work environment is not to Jamie-Lee Ross’ liking. He wants his dinner and was prepared to throw a full-blown screaming ‘tanty’ to get it.

But as ‘Mickeysavage’ pointed out on The Standard;



Let’s not forget that the legislation being debated at the time was Labour’s Family Package – a package estimated to lift an estimated 88,000 families out of poverty.

It would mean thousands of children having more food to eat; not going to school hungry; able to learn better in the classroom; able to get ahead in life, and be given a decent chance to succeed.

But National was too busy playing political games – “filibustering”. Not only were they delaying their own dinner break – they were prepared to deny impoverished families additional income. This is the depths to which National’s members of Parliament are prepared to go: politicking at the expense of the poor.

But not to panic, folks.

Jamie-Lee Ross eventually had a very nice meal.





IRD:  Families Package Bill introduced

Radio NZ:  Delayed lunch break brings out hangry MPs

Fairfax media:  Long days and busy schedules start to get to MPs

NZ Herald:  Tempers flare in Parliament as families’ package debate drags out

Youtube:  Families Package (Income Tax and Benefits) Bill- Committee Stage- Part 1 – Video 53

Scoop media:  Union biting the hand that feeds – Jamie Lee-Ross

Parliament: Bills Digest – Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill 2013 (Member’s Bill)

Youtube: Ports behind bill

Parliament:  Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill

MoBIE:   Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (March 2015)

Parliament: Employment Relations Amendment Bill [Act]

Parliament:  Continuity of employment – Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act

Parliament: Employment Relations Amendment Bill [Act] – Rest and Meal Breaks

Other Blogs

The Standard:  Doofus of the week – Jami Lee-Ross

Previous related blogposts

Harbour battles & casual fear

Confirmed: National welcomes low-wage economy

National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!





This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 January 2018.



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National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!


National MP -  Jami-Lee Ross - The Nation - TV3 - 23 June 2013 - strikebreaking bill


National MP (Botany), Jami-Lee Ross, has  admitted that he has colluded with POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) bosses to draft his proposed  strike-breaking amendment, the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill. On TV3’s The Nation on 22 June, Ross confirmed that he had been in talks with employers during the height of the industrial dispute between the POAL and MUNZ (Maritime Union);


Source: Youtube – Ports behind bill


At 0:50, Rachel Smalley asks Ross,

“Do the Employers and Manufacturers Association support it?”

Ross’s answer was not at all truthful, and his response was utterly mis-leading. Smalley has to point out to him that the Employers and Manufacturers in fact do not support Ross’s Bill.

This is the first indication that Ross is prepared to ‘spin’ lack of support or outright opposition, in a sly, dishonest fashion.  Smalley, who is aware of the Employers and Manufacturers Association position, corrects him,

“I don’t think they support it though, do they, which is quite interesting.”

In fact, the Employers and Manufacturers Association said in a media statement, that “while its principles are worth exploring it could prove very divisive.”

Acknowledgement: Scoop Media – Balloted Bill possibly a bridge too far

The same media release went on to slate Ross’s Bill,

“New Zealand communities place a high value on fairness and the Bill could have consequences that would be considered unfair.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

When even employers start perceiving a piece of anti-union legislisation as unfair, then that speaks volumes.   Employers are not stupid. They understand that it only takes one unjust law  to make workers more militant. That, in turn would generate increased support for a much-weakened trade union movement in this country.

At 1:40, Smalley asked,

“Does the NZ Initiative support it?”

Ross again evaded giving a straight answer, and Smalley pointed out to him that even the right-wing think-tank is dubious about the worth of the Bill.

Then at 2:18, Ross gets to the nub of the matter,

“There’s the potential  once the economy really picks up again that we could seeing a whole lot more strikes.”

Ross’s statement is his first candid admission that the raison d’être of  his Bill is not the “fairness”, “balance” or “choice” that he has been espousing.

Ross’s  sole agenda is to crack down on strikes.  Ross is targetting the most fundamental rights of  human beings;

  1. to work together collectively, for mutual benefit
  2. to with-hold labour when workers deem it necessary

Working together collectively is not just a worker’s prerogative. Collective action is also used by employers who have their own groupings,


Business NZ


employers and manufacturing association


Wellington chamber of commerce


Ross’s next admission was political dynamite. At 3:26, Rachel Smalley asked Ross,

“Where does this Bill have it’s origins?”

Ross deflected with waffle about “the rights of New Zealand”.

Smalley persisted,

“Or is it on the wharves of the ports of Auckland, is that where it’s origins lie?”

Ross side-stepped by remarking that “a drawn out strike can have a quite a  big impact on the wider economy“.

Then, at 4:00, Smalley asked the million-dollar question,

“Have you discussed this Bill with Ports of Auckland [Ltd]?”

At last, Ross could not evade the questioning and admitted,

A long time ago. That was an issue that was raised.”

Smalley asked,

“How long ago?”

Ross replied,

“Oh, might have been when the industrial dispute was in full swing…”

This blogger has a fairly good idea when Ross and Ports of Auckland Ltd bosses had their little “chat”: around

On 11 January 2012, Jami-Lee Ross wrote this anti-union  opinion piece for Scoop Media,


union-biting-the-hand-that-feeds - header

The latest development in the protracted Ports of Auckland industrial dispute must give all parties to the issue pause for thought. Continued industrial action would adversely affect the Port even further and could undermine the Maritime Union’s very reason for being.

The announcement by Fonterra recently that it is moving the company’s business from Auckland to Tauranga and Napier was a blow for the Queen City. While the negotiations between the Maritime Union and Ports of Auckland management may be a distant and removed matter for the average Aucklander, they must know the issue is now one of a fight for their port’s survival.

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

I don’t use the term “destruction in value” lightly. It is a strong term, but one that is appropriate for this issue. Just as losing the business of Maersk in December was no laughing matter, losing Fonterra can not be ignored. At a reported weekly trade value of $27million, annualised the loss of Fonterra’s custom represents around $1.4 billion of export business.

But numbers aside, it is obvious that losing the trade of New Zealand’s largest company, only a month after losing the business of one of the worlds largest shipping lines, has to be a wakeup call. Yet sadly for the Maritime Union, it isn’t. Sadly for port workers and Aucklanders alike, the Maritime Union continues to be unphased.

This isn’t a story of a greedy corporate hammering the little guy. This isn’t a story of a David versus Goliath battle where workers are being ripped off or paid a pittance. Few could call poverty on an average annual wage for a wharfie understood to be north of $90,000, with a proposed 10 percent hourly rate increase and performance bonuses of up to 20 percent, sitting on the table. To the average person on the street, the latest Ports of Auckland offer to the Union would almost seem generous.

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.

For commercial users, it is a simple matter of certainty and continuity Union action, and the threat of further strikes, have put a serious dent in the Ports of Auckland’s ability to provide their bread and butter services Customers are now voting with their feet. The value of Ports of Auckland and the value of the investment that every Aucklander has in the company will continue to suffer if resolution to this matter is not swift.

Aucklanders can rightly be concerned at the increasingly rogue nature of the Maritime Union. However there are 500 men and women that work at the Port with even more skin in the game and a lot more to lose. The trade union movement evolved through a desire for workers to band together to protect their common interests. This is not a dishonourable goal. But when a union loses sight of its members long term interests and cavalier negotiating tactics start to backfire, the union itself begins putting its own member’s livelihoods at risk.

Unions still occupy a privileged position in New Zealand’s employment law; a relic of the last Labour administration which has not seen significant overhaul for some years. Few non-government organisations can boast clauses in legislation specifically designed for their benefit. Despite only 18 percent of the nation’s workforce being unionised, trade unions can look to whole sections of the Employment Relations Act written exclusively to aid union survival through legislative advantage.

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.

As the fight for Auckland’s waterfront reaches the tipping point, for ratepayers and workers alike this present stand off must come to an end. The city’s $600 million port investment and worker’s jobs are now on the line. Also on the line is the country’s acceptance of the role of trade unions. It can not be tolerable or acceptable for a union to demonstrate continued disregard for the economic consequences of their actions.

*Jami-Lee Ross is the Member of Parliament for Botany. He was formerly a member of the Auckland and Manukau City Councils.

Acknowledgement: Scoop Media – Union biting the hand that feeds


Four months after his statement,  Jamie Lee Ross spoke in support of the  Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill, allowing secret ballot’s before workers decided to take strike action.

Ross put it thusly,

“Today is liberation day. Today is liberation day for New Zealand workers who are members of unions that have not yet embraced the democratic principles of holding a secret ballot when strike action is being considered. I say it is a shame that members of the Opposition are not supporting this bill, the Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  Hansards, Parliament

Ross further advocated for secret ballots prior to strike action,

If members want to stand in this House and say that they do support the concept of secret ballots, which is what a number of speeches have been saying in both the first and second readings—and we have heard it a few times this afternoon as well—and that they think it is a good thing that a number of unions already have secret ballot provisions in their rules, then they should go the step further and support this bill, and do the right thing by giving workers the freedom that they deserve.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  IBID

(Irony of ironies,  all MPs votes on legislation are a matter of  public record, and recorded in Hansards. There is no secret ballot when MPs vote.)

The Bill passed and became law on 14 May 2012

So what was the relevance between the law that Ross supported and the Ports of Auckland dispute? It seems that the POAL dispute was weighing heavily on the MP’s  mind during the third reading of this Bill,

I want to also touch on the Ports of Auckland for a moment, because I think it is important that we talk a little bit about what has become the key and well-known industrial dispute this year. It is fair to say that the Ports of Auckland dispute probably would not have got as bad as it did if there was the opportunity for those Ports of Auckland workers to have a secret ballot for their strike.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  IBID

It should also be noted that the Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill was a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by National backbench MP, Tau Henare – also noted for his hostility toward the trade union movement.

As is the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill – sponsored by Jami-Lee Ross.

The government, it seems, does not want to get it’s hands dirty with Union-smashing legislation. Dear Leader John Key made his feelings abundantly clear in March 2012 when he played the positive-sounding propagandist mouth-piece for POAL bosses,

“I think they went through a genuine good faith process,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

The company believed it was losing business, primarily to the Port of Tauranga, because it wasn’t competitive.

“Their view is unless they change, it will be death by a thousand cuts.”

Demand from the council for a 12 per cent return from the company within five years, up from a current 6 per cent, had not lead to the dispute, Key said.

The port had struggled with financial problems for some time and cash flow issues had forced it to sell Queens Wharf to the Government.

“Unless that’s an efficient workplace, unless it’s competitive, ultimately they will continue to lose business.”

The company was trying to make savings at the port to protect all its jobs, he said,

“And I guess they have moved to this issue where they want to go to outsourcing.”

The company needed to find almost 300 workers and would take people with experience.

“I suspect quite a lot of the people who have been made redundant will actually reapply and funnily enough get their job back just through a different vehicle… the conditions will be different.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Jackson pulls back from port comments

So how involved was the Ports of Auckland Ltd bosses in  motivating, encouraging, or actively sponsoring  Ross to write his strike-breaking Bill?

Rachel Smalley put that question to Ross in the same interview. At 4:28 she asked,

“What was the Port’s input into the Bill?

Ross replied,

“The Ports [of Auckland Ltd] indicated that during a strike like every organisation that is affected by a strike, they’re unable to keep their business going…”

So the bosses at POAL indicated  to Ross that they  were  unable to keep their business going – and the MP for Botany duly obliged with a Bill that he fully admits POAL mananagement had input into.

This is commonly known as collusion.

What makes it all the much worse is that POAL is a publicly-owned company (by Auckland ratepayers) – and it’s own management acted against the interests of the community, as if it were some predatory trans-national corporation.

Indeed, that is precisely how Ports of Auckland Ltd management have behaved during the long-running industrial dispute;

  • 12 January 2012 – Leaked POAL papers showed that  management were running their own agenda  “of ramping up the current industrial dispute while saying they want to resolve it.The draft management plan sets out a comprehensive contracting out plan, disparages the ports owners and board of directors, and predetermines there is no intention of seeking a negotiated solution.”  (source)
  • 22 March 2012 – Ports workers were served a lockout notice from Ports of Auckland LTD management just hours before a vote to bring to an end  strike action. (source)
  • 22 March 2012 – A POAL manager involved in  negotiations with the  Maritime Union was linked to a company, Pacific Crew Holdings Ltd, recruiting non-unionised wharfies  for a new company,  registered with the Companies Office only a month earlier. (source)
  • 27 March 2012 – Employment Relations Authority issued a judgement in favour of Maritime Union not to harass workers; not to make union member redundant;  not to hire scab labour; not to engage Drake New Zealand Ltd or Allied Workforce Ltd or any other person to perform the work of striking/locked-out employees; not to pressure union members to sign contracts with Drake or Allied Workforce, etc. (source)
  • 12 April 2012 – POAL bosses admitted leaking private details of a port worker to a right wing blogger. The maritime worker  had lost his wife to cancer. The blogger was closely connected to POAL, and may have been paid for writing pro-management propaganda on his blog. (source)
  • 13 August 2012 – Maritime Union outlined cases of bullying by POAL management,  ”every time somebody coughs there is a disciplinary hearing, they are attacking people continuously, making their lives miserable. There are people getting disciplined for all sorts of things, – it’s ridiculous for infinitesimal little things. They [workers] think it’s part of their [management] campaign to undermine the workforce to try and get them a little bit weakened so they will agree to what is put to them.”  (source)

It should be obvious to all by now that POAL management had no intention whatsoever of negotiating with the Maritime Union in good faith, as the Employment Relations Act requires.

It was also suggested that POAL management were setting up the Ports company for eventual privatisation (see: NBR – Plea for ratepayers to give up port control).  Rationalising a workforce is usually a precursor to a  privatisation agenda.

Whether or not Jami-Lee Ross’s strike breaking Bill becomes law is by no means guaranteed. Even if National finds the couple of votes needed to pass it into law, this blogger has no doubt that an incoming Labour-Green-Mana government will consign it to the rubbish bin of political history. Where it rightly belongs with other laws that threaten the livelihoods of New Zealanders and their families.

Make no mistake, this Bill has nothing to do with “fairness”, “balance”, or “choice” , etc.

This Bill has only one goal; to force workers not to strike, by fear-threat of losing their jobs and replaced by strike-breaking scab labour. With unemployment at 146,000 unemployed according to a recent Household Labour Force Survey, there would be many desperate to get into a job – even if it meant displacing a striking worker. This is the dog-eat-dog world of the “Free” Market, and which Jami-Lee Ross wants to aggravate for the ordinary working man and woman.

It is fairly clear that Jami-Lee Ross and Ports of Auckland Ltd management have colluded  to draft this Bill.

It is further clear that POAL had this Bill in mind to break the authority of the Maritime Union to negotiate on behalf of it’s members.

And it’s further clear that POAL had in mind this strike-breaking Bill as part of it’s over-arching agenda.

For Jami-Lee Ross, he is in a no-lose situation. If his Bill becomes law, he cements his reputation as a willing tool of the employers to do their bidding. (Much like Simon Lusk advocated in his far right plan to make MPs beholding to donors. See: National turns on hard right advisor)

And if the Bill fails, he still builds a reputation as a right wing politician willing to work with fiscal conservatives; employers; and any others who advance the neo-liberal agenda.

Jami-Lee Ross – willing servant of  bosses; conservatives; and cashed-up donors.


“Going on strike cannot be easy. It can be financially and morally devastating.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  Hansards, Parliament

Yes, indeed. Very “financially and morally devastating“. Especially if Mr Ross get’s his way.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 2 July 2013.





Scoop Media: Union biting the hand that feeds (11 Jan 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Port workers claim bullying continues (13 Aug 2012)

Fairfax Media: Bosses bypass new era (11 Nov 2012)

Fairfax Media: Kiwi bosses’ attitude repels expats (15 Dec 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Unionist slams ‘assault on workers’ (27 April 2013)

Scoop Media: Balloted Bill possibly a bridge too far  (14 June 2013)

Youtube: Ports behind bill (22 June 2013)

Other Blogs

Bowalley Road:  The Right To Say – “No.”

Waitakere News: National’s generic press release for introduction of new bill



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Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

30 June 2013 9 comments


Big Brother Inc




“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” – say  those who attempt to justify the  increasing surveillance power of State’s, multi-nationals, and internet “webcorps” like Facebook and Google.

I find that usually these people fall into three categories;

  1. the incredibly naive, who believe that their government loves them. Because Big Brother loves you.
  2. the incredibly fearful, who see terrorists under their beds, in the closet, out on the street behind a tree…
  3. the incredibly partisan – who identify so closely with  their  Party-of-choice, that that will give it wholehearted trust whilst  in office. But will then condemn an opposition Party’s use of State surveillance power once they win government.

The SIS was formed in 1956 – during the height of the Cold War. It was a perilous time in our history, when two super power blocs faced off against each other. Armed with colossal numbers of atomic weaponry, Planet Earth stood on the brink of thermonuclear annihilation. Cockroaches bided their time to inherit.

Twentyone years later, the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) was created in 1977 at the behest of  then Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon. Super power rivalry and  a volatile mix of Middle East tensions created an environment where intelligence-gathering became as vital as  actual military (if not more so).

Prime Ministers of the day promised, hand on heart, that each organisation would be carefully controlled and their activities monitored.

A year earlier, the police Wanganui Computer centre had opened, holding  information for the  New Zealand Police, Land Transport Safety Authority and the justice department,

‘Big Brother is watching’? The New Zealand government’s establishment of the country’s first centralised electronic database through the Wanganui Computer Act raised questions about the state’s ability to gather information on its citizens.

[…]Critics were unconvinced. Civil libertarians likened it to something from George Orwell’s 1984 and mounted numerous protests against the system. The ultimate protest occurred in November 1982, when 22-year-old anarchist Neil Roberts was apparently blown up by his own gelignite bomb as he tried to breach security at the computer centre.

Acknowledgement:  NZ On-Line History – Wanganui Computer legislation passed

By 1989, the Cold War was coming to an end and the “runner up” in the rivalry between superpowers- the Soviet Bloc –  fell apart. The Berlin Wall came down. The Iron Curtain parted. Eastern European nations jumped on the NATO bandwagon. And the  CCCP (USSR) now lives on only in history books and far-flung space probes on the Moon, Mars, Venus, and further out in deep space.

But you wouldn’t think it, as the West – including little old laid-back New Zealand – ratcheted up the power of the State. After the televised terror of 9/11, who could say ‘no’ to more and more surveillance; security; spying; and other governmental powers?

In October 2002, the Clark-led Labour government enacted the Terrorism Suppression Act  2002. The Police website referred to this legislation as,

The TSA establishes a legal framework for the suppression of terrorism. In particular, it is the mechanism by which New Zealand gives effect to the United Nations Security Council (“UNSC”) mandatory resolutions requiring UN member states to take certain steps to suppress terrorism. An important feature of this framework is the Prime Minister’s power under the TSA to designate individuals or groups as terrorist or associated entities. Designation can be on an “interim” (s 20 TSA) or “final” (s 22 TSA) basis.

Acknowledgement: NZ Police – New Zealand’s designated terrorist individuals and organisations

It should be noted that the definition of who/what is a terrorist entity was left up to individual governments to make,

Secondly, and by contrast, while UNSC Resolution 1373 obliges New Zealand (inter alia) to outlaw the financing of, participation in and recruitment to, terrorist entities, it does not specifically identify those entities. The Resolution effectively leaves it to Member States to identify the entities against which they should act.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Some 21 groups  around the world are currently listed as “terrorist” organisations.  One of those 21 organisations is the Kurdistan Workers Party/ Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (“PKK”), which is seeking a fully independent Kurdistan covering land in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The PKK is currently in negotiations with the Turkish government. If it is a “terrorist” organisation, then the Turks are negotiating with terrorists.

Perhaps the best known example of  “terrorist-come-statesman”  is Nelson Mandela who served as President of the  African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997.  The ANC was banned in 1960 and Mandela served 27 years in prison.

Once upon a time,  Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher dismissed the ANC as a terrorist organisation,

“The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation … Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land‘. ” – Margaret Thatcher, 1987

Now the ANC is the legitimate government of South Africa  and Nelson Mandela is revered as one of the greatest statesmen the 20th Century has ever produced.

Such is the difficulty with branding a group as “terrorist”.  It is a political statement – and that is the problem. One person’s  terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.

The government attempted to employ the Terrorism Suppression Act once, and once only –  subsequent to  the Urewera Raid on Monday, 15 October 2007. For the first time, something out of C.K. Stead’s “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs” crossed over from fantasy, into harsh reality,


Urewera Raids


Imagine welcoming a Time Traveler from New Zealand 1971 to 2007 with the above scene. Would s/he think that New Zealand had fallen under the harsh rule of a military-fascist dictatorship? That somewhere in the intervening time-period, a coup d’état had overthrown a democratically-elected government, and we were living under a Chilean-style regime?

However, the confusing nature of the law was such that charges were dropped against most of the 18 arrested. Only four proceeded to trial.

Eventually, none  were charged with “terrorism”, the Act iself being described by  Solicitor General Collins as “complex and incoherent”, and “almost impossible to apply to domestic circumstances”.

The Act, however, remains in force.

Since then, as if in some bizarre “Space Race” with Labour, the Key-led National Government decided to trump the Terrorism Suppression Act with the Search And Surveillance Act 2012.

As the NZ Herald reported on 1 October, last year,

The Search and Surveillance Act, which was passed through Parliament in March, extends production and examination orders to the police and legalises some forms of surveillance.

It will let more government agencies carry out surveillance operations, allows judges to determine whether journalists can protect their sources, and changes the right to silence.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – New police search and surveillance law in force

The report went on to state,

Police could complete some forms of surveillance and searches without warrants, but [Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm]  Burgess said the situations were pretty common sense.

“Either emergencies, where life might be at risk, or where the destruction of evidence might occur in very serious circumstances,” he said.

“My own interpretation is this is very common sense legislation which provides us reasonable means to carry out our functions.”

He did not see the changes as a massive expansion of police powers.

Acknowledgement: IBID

“He did not see the changes as a massive expansion of police powers“.

Well, Burgess would say that, wouldn’t he?

Does anyone remotely believe that Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm  Burgess would say the opposite, like this,

“Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm  Burgess saw the changes as a massive, unwarranted expansion of police powers, which would move New Zealand society further into the realms of a Surveillance Society where State power over-rode the right to privacy.

“We already have sufficient powers to catch burglars, drunk drivers, and drug pushers”, he said.”

Show me a senior police office who would say something like that, and I will show you a Little Green Man  from Mars. (He’s living in my basement and the little bugger has drunk most of my bourbon. Not that it has much effect on him…)

Eight months after the Search & Surveillance Bill was enacted, this bombshell hit the news;


Illegal spying - 85 Kiwis watched - Fairfax Media - Andrea Vance - Kitteridge Report

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Illegal spying: 85 Kiwis watched


Despite the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 being fairly clear on the issue, the Bureau still had the mistaken belief that they were somehow entitled to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

Either in ignorance, or another of his pathetic lies, John Key maintained this fiction,

In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.  It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known.”

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Despite the fact that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is actually quite clear – especially Section 14 which states –

Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

– the myth is perpetuated that the law is “unclear”.

So what does John Key and his National Ministers do? Do they, make the law more explicit that the GCSB “may not authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”?


Instead National has amended the law – in effect  legalising the illegal “88 cases identified as having a question mark over them since 2003” (source) through a new  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

National is also enacting the new amendment  – under Urgency – which will give the GCSB the right to now spy on a person  who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Remember – there is no Cold War. That ended 24 years ago.

But you wouldn’t think so.

Instead, Key now makes references to other “threats” to New Zealand,

  • There are people within our country who have links to offshore terrorist groups.” –  John Key, 15 April 2013
  • …covert attempts to acquire New Zealand’s science and technology for programmes related to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems.” – John Key, 15 April 2013
  • This shows New Zealand’s public and private organisations are facing increasing risks of cyber intrusion which could compromise their operations and could result in the theft of valuable intellectual property.” – John Key, 7 May 2013

When asked to be specific about these claims, Key replied,

I cannot tell New Zealanders everything our intelligence agencies are doing, or what the details of their operations are.” (Source)

And as reported, Key was less than forthcoming about other matters relating to the GCSB’s activities,

He refused to say what the support was that the GCSB provided to the Defence Force, police and SIS.
“I’m not going to go into the details of what they do.”

He also refused to say whether information on New Zealanders was passed on to foreign agencies.

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

But he did admit that not one of those 88 New Zealanders spied on by the GCSB has been prosecuted for any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Not one, as Key admitted,

Police have conducted a thorough check of all their systems. Police advise that no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes have occurred as a result of the information supplied to NZSIS by GCSB  .”

If this had happened thirty or fourty  years ago, when New Zealanders were seemingly far more conciousness of the threat of growing Orwellian state power, there would have been mass protests in the streets.

New Zealanders seem to have either fallen into a deep trance, or have grown tired in resisting the remorseless advance of the State.

Is this the country that marched, en masse, to prevent a racist rugby team from touring, in 1981?


anti tour marchers


What happened to us?




On top of becoming a Surveillance State, National is also winding back the rights of workers to negotiate with employers, and the right to strike,


Employment reforms 'sinister' - Labour

Acknowledgement: Employment reforms ‘sinister’ – Labour


In a series of  tweet-exchanges, National MP, Jamie-Lee Ross explained his purpose of the Bill,


jamie lee ross - twitter conversation - 14 june 2013


Jamie-Lee Ross is simply repeating the line from National’s spin-doctors. His repetition of “choice”, “freedom”, and “balance” is garbage of course.

You will most likely keep hearing Ross’s refrain, “restore a balance between employers and employees” more and more as the Bill progresses through the House.

The only “choice”, “freedom”, and “balance” is for employers to get rid of striking workers and replace them with a more compliant, subservient  workforce who will accept lower wages and lesser working conditions.

As CTU President, Helen Kelley explained on The Standard,

1. Notice for strikes.

Currently only those in essential industries must give notice to strike. The new law not only requires notice for all strikes but it also requires that these notices say when the strike will begin and end and there is a requirement for each employee to give notice when a strike will end early. This will prolong strikes and see workers lose wages when they are seeking to return to work. It is intended to create technical grounds for strikes to be ruled illegal.

2. A strike tax

The Bill provides for partial pay deductions for action that falls short of a strike. Firefighters for example, reluctant to take strike action, may take action such as not filling in fire reports, teachers may refuse extra curricula activities or workers may do other creative actions (librarians at universities once refused to process new books rather than shut the library during exam times). The Bill proposes that the employer can unilaterally decide the value of this work and deduct the amount of wages they consider to match this value. Workers can challenge the amount deducted in the Court, but this will take time and the pressure of wage deductions will be used to pressure workers to drop the action. Workers will still be completing their full hours but not getting paid the full amount. The Bill even excludes compliance with the minimum wage for this deduction (it will not matter if the deduction takes the worker below the minimum wage). For state workers that take this limited type of action – the State will benefit – full time work for part time pay – a strike tax.

3. Restrictions on the right to strike

The last change is the most serious one. Currently it is lawful to strike in pursuit of a collective agreement. Sixty days before the expiry of a collective agreement, the union can initiate bargaining and begin negotiations for a renewal. When this happens the expiring collective remains in force for a full year after expiry. This means workers retain coverage and new workers can gain coverage while renewal bargaining takes place.

There is a duty of good faith on the parties to the bargaining to conclude a collective agreement unless their are genuine reasons on reasonable grounds not to. It is not a genuine reason to simply object on ideological grounds to a collective.

40 days following initiation the parties can strike or lock out in order to put pressure on the other party to change their position in the bargaining – an essential element sometimes of getting a settlement. Without it, workers have no ability to shift an intransigent employer to get a reasonable offer – it is a recognised international right, and you have heard the EMA, Peter Dunne and others defend this right. Even Key says he is not too keen.

Acknowledgement: The Standard – Don’t be fooled by the spin regarding strike laws

Bill Newson, national secretary of the EPMU (Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union) summed it up with simple clarity,

“ The latest piece of legislation actually goes further than what applied in the 1990s.

It’s already very difficult, in an era of reasonably high unemployment and very low economic activity, for workers to test their employers for fairer wage outcomes.

It’s an answer to a problem we don’t have. We don’t have a problem with high wages, we don’t have a problem with industrial chaos .”

Acknowledgement: Employment reforms ‘sinister’ – Labour

This is a direct reaction to the industrial dispute at the Ports of Auckland which faced off  Maritime Union of NZ (MUNZ) against Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL). It is a dispute which MUNZ pursued (and won!) through legal channels such as the Employment  Court, and also won in the Court of Public Opinion.

Meanwhile, the employers, POAL, broke employment laws; negotiated in bad faith; leaked sensitive employee information to a foul-mouthed, deranged right-wing blogger; and spread dis-information to the media and public. It was a nasty, vicious, under-handed battle.

The country saw it for what it was, and understood that the POAL and it’s CEO, Tony Gibson, and Board were directly responsible.

Eventually, on 29 March last year, the Employment Court found in favour of the Maritime Union and forced POAL back to the bargaining table.  Make no mistake, this was a major defeat for the Right. A defeat that could not stand – Unions could not be allowed to stand in the way of efforts to make our labourforce more “flexible”.

Having lost the battle in both Courts and with the Public,  rightwing politicians and employers  are now wanting retribution. But more than that, the Right Wing want the law changed so that workers’ right to strike is severely curtailed. In fact, they want the right to strike to become a thing of the past.

No worker will dare strike if they risk losing their jobs to strike-breakers.

It is no coincidence that Jamie-Lee Ross is the author of this repressive legislation. Because Mr Ross was also involved on the fringes in  the ports of Auckland dispute.



Acknowledgement: – Union biting the hand that feeds


So it seems that Jamie-Lee Ross has evidently been tasked with “reforming”  New Zealand’s current labour laws. By “reforming”, I mean to change the law in such a way that a Union could never again challenge – and defeat – an employer.

This is what Mr Ross’s Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill is all about.

I just wish Mr Ross was more upfront with the true intent of his Bill. It’s a strike-breaker. End of story.


union badge




And next on the Dark Agenda, curtailment of peoples’ right to protest that might interfere with corporate activity.

I refer, of course, to another National MP – Minister Simon Bridges – who enacted a new law through Parliament – one with heavy sanctions against protesters who “want to stop other people going about their lawful business and doing what they have a permit to do and they are legally entitled to do“ (see: Q+A – Transcript Simon Bridges Interview).

On 3 April, on TVNZ’s Q+A, there was this exchange between Bridges and Jessica Mutch,

JESSICA MUTCH I want to start off by asking you your predecessor in a speech, Phil Heatley, said, ‘I’m determined to ensure the mining sector is not hampered by unsafe protest actions by a small but vocal minority.’ You’ve been working on this since taking over. What are protesters in for?

SIMON BRIDGES So, that’s right. So we are acting, and so two offences are going to be put into the Crown Minerals Bill. Look, the first of those is truly criminal offence. Effectively, what it says is that it will be stopping people out there at deep sea, in rough waters, dangerous conditions, doing dangerous acts, damaging and interfering with legitimate business interests with ships, for example, seismic ships, and what they’re doing out there.

JESSICA What fines are we talking about there?

SIMON Well, for that one, 12 months’ imprisonment, or $1000 (please note: the minister meant $100,000 not $1000) or $50,000 fine, depending on whether you’re a body corporate or an individual. Then a lesser, more infringement offence, really, strict liability offence for entering within a specified area, probably up to 500 metres within that ship, again because of the dangers associated with doing that.

Acknowledgement: TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript Simon Bridges Interview

Notice that Bridges has dressed up increased suppression of dissent and protest as a “safety” issue. He refers to “ stopping people out there at deep sea, in rough waters, dangerous conditions, doing dangerous act” and because of the dangers associated with doing that [protesting]“.

National’s spin doctors have created the meme to be repeated ad nauseum; this is a “safety” issue and not a civil rights issue.

I think most New Zealanders are not taken in by that bit of daft fiction.

It is little wonder that East Coast locals and environmental activists joined together to protest against deep-sea drilling of their coast. The Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010 was a clear warning what the potential was for an environmental catastrophe – one that we are simply unprepared for, as the grounding of the MV Rena showed, eighteen months later.

For Simon Bridges to now threaten future protestors with heavy fines and prison sentences has the hallmarks of a nasty, brutish, authoritarian  government that is afraid of it’s own people.




National’s increased surveillance powers could come in very handy for a left wing government. First of all, National’s stooge – Ian Fletcher – will have to be replaced by someone more “sympathetic” to a left-wing government.

Someone with strong left-wing credentials, and who is willing to crack down on right-wing subversive elements in New Zealand.

Subversive right wing groups that threaten the safety of New Zealand citizens – an which can now be more easily surveilled. Groups and individuals such as,

  • ACT
  • National Party
  • New Zealand Initiative (formerly Business Roundtable)
  • Family First
  • NBR
  • Karl Du Fresne
  • Michael Laws
  • Cameron Slater
  • David Farrar
  • Business NZ
  • Crosby Textor

And probably a few others  I’ve forgotten to list.

The new US-based company, Palantir, that has set up office in Wellington and is currently seeking an Embedded Analyst with the NZ  Government, could be useful to monitor and keep track of these subversives. They have a known track record for anti-social, and undermining economic activities in this country.

National also intends to strengthen data-sharing between government departments such as IRD, WINZ, etc (see: Govt considers new ‘big data’ hub). This will be handy to evaluate possible tax evasion for any of these groups.

Of course, if the GCSB/SIS can’t find anything illegal, we can always scrutinise their internet history. Check out what websites they’ve been visiting. Something, anything, dodgy. Preferably involving illegal sex acts. Then leak it to a friendly left-wing blogger to publish. (see: Port admits leaking worker’s details – union)

Yes, indeed, increasing powers and laws that allow a crack-down on dissent could prove very handy for the “far left” Labour-Green government that John Key warns us is coming.

No doubt the Righties will be screaming blue-murder about infringing their privacy. Their identities and comments will be noted. And added to their files. (see:  “The Spies Are Welcome To Mine”: A Fantasy)

There is no more privacy.




The rise of the Police surveillance state…

Crushing Union opposition…

Placing heavy restrictions on protest activity…

These are the hallmarks of a government that is exerting firm control  over society and willing to flex it’s “muscle” to have it’s own way. It is a phenomenon that seems to be occurring around the world, with even The Bastion Of Democracy, the USA, now a fully-fledged Surveillance State (but with capitalist trappings).

Through growing  surveillance,  National is watching those “persons of interest” who are likely to interfere with their agenda. Such people can be environmental activists, intellectuals, unionists,  civil rights advocates, left wing bloggers, et al. People who are vigilant on behalf of all New Zealanders – yes, even those on the Right.

Though Ross’s Bill, National will reduce Union power to such a degree that businesses and investors will no longer have to put up with disruption to their incomes and profits. Workers and their representatives will effectively be silenced.

And if anyone disrupts corporate activity such as deep-sea prospecting/drilling, then the State can crack down on protesters with harsh financial penalties and dire  threats of imprisonment.

This is a government, my fellow New Zealanders, that is no longer willing to tolerate dissent. Especially if it threatens their agenda.

Recently, at the Green Party conference, Russell Norman likened John Key to Robert Muldoon. Notoriously, Muldoon had little patience with those who crossed him or opposed his views.

Norman got it partly right. Actually,  this entire government is Muldoonist in the way it is building up Executive power. Power  with which to  intimidate  opposition. Key is merely the affable, smiling face of that intimidating government. He is the “likeable uncle” behind whom is the full power of the State, and an Executive willing to use it, regardless of consequences or notions of human rights.)

The questions now demanding an answer;

  1. Are National voters comfortable with the accumulation of power by the State?
  2. How will National voters view such extraordinary power being wielded by a left-wing government?
  3. Will an incoming Labour-Green-Mana government committ to reversing these autocratic laws?

There was mass-hysteria when the media got hold of the ridiculous  story that Labour was going to “interfere” with shower heads. Charges of “nanny state” flew like wool in a shearing shed (see: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state). Of course it was nothing more than a beat-up by National and it’s friendly media.

But it seemed to have stuck in the public consciousness, and Labour became synonymous with the so-called “Nanny State”.

Never mind Nanny. Big Brother is the one to watch out for. He’ll certainly be watching us.

Oh, how we Baby Boomers – who lived through the 1960s and 70s – have seemingly forgotten our distrust of the State.


neil roberts - we have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity

Neil Roberts
1960 – 1982


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 June 2013.



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John Key’s track record on raising wages – 8. An End to Collective Agreements

11 November 2012 7 comments


Continued from: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 7. Part 6A – stripped away



8. An End to Collective Agreements


National’s covert agenda to resurrect the Employment Contract’s Act involves the following,

  1. The Employment Relations Authority can declare in certain circumstances that collective bargaining has ended.
  2. A duty of good faith does not require the parties to conclude a collective agreement.
  3. Employers can opt out of multi-employer bargaining.
  4. Partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action.
  5. Removing the 30-day rule that forces non-union members to take union terms and conditions.

Items 1, 2, and 3 have only one purpose; to ensure that an employer can walk away from the negotiating table; scrap any collective agreement; and re-hire workers on individual contracts.

It is solely designed to destroy unions once and for all.

Had Items 1, 2, and 3 been in force this year, POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) would have been able to abandon the bargaining table after a mock “negotiation”; locked out any worker on strike; and issued take-it-or-leave-it individual contracts.

The worker’s negotiating agent,  the Maritime Union, would have been dis-empowered and destroyed.

Only the current provisions of good-faith bargaining in the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Employment Relations Authority were able to stop POAL from unilaterally walking away from the negotiating table. (On 27 March this year, the Employment Court issued a judgement severely admonishing POAL for their actions, and ordering them to return to negotiations.)

The same happened when Talleys locked out workers. Talleys was demanding that workers quit their Union and sign individual contracts.

See previous blogpost: If anyone wants to see the Working Class

See previous blogpost: Help Talley’s Affco Workers!

See previous blogpost: Immovable and Irresistable forces – combined!!

See previous blogpost: The Talleys Strikes Back

All this will change – and not fot the better –  if National proceeds with implementation of their draconian law-changes.

They will serve the purposes of business – whilst leaving employees totally vulnerable and at the mercy of their employers.

This is Third World banana republic stuff.

This will drive wages down, and will send more New Zealanders packing for Australia.

Item 4 is self-evident, and is designed to dissuade employees from strike action. Using financial pressure to control workers would be the inevitable outcome of this law-change.

Again, it would leave workers totally vulnerable to employer demands.

Item 5 – What better way to prevent workers from learning about the benefits of union-membership – than by denying workers the benefits of Union-won  conditions? It means that an employer can hire staff at lower pay, or sub-standard conditions.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson’s own cabinet paper confirmed that the 30 Day Rule  would permit  employers to offer lower wages to new workers than those on the collective agreement. What other reasonwould there be for such a radical  change in our labour laws?

With unemployment now at 7.3%, more than 175,000 people are now competing for fewer and fewer jobs. If National proceeds with it’s miserable labour “reforms” it will simply result in unemployed job-seekers willing to accept lower and lower pay, and reduced conditions. It will become a dog-eat-dog labour market.

This may satisfy free market fanatics, but it does nothing to fulfill Dear Leader’s pledges to raise wages, or create new jobs.

As usual, Key promises one thing whilst his Minister work quietly in the background to achieve the polar-opposite.

In polite society, this is called duplicity.

How does this raise wages, one may rightly ask?

Next chapter: 9. Conclusion



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John Key’s track record on raising wages – 5. The Minimum Wage

11 November 2012 7 comments


Continued from: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 4. Rest Home Workers



5. The Minimum Wage


From 2004 to 2008, the minimum wage rose from $9 to $12 – an increase of $3 in four years.

From 2009 to 2012, the minimum wage rose from $12 to $13.50 – an increase of $1.50 over three years.

See: Dept of Labour – Previous minimum wage rates

Last year, Labour, the Greens, NZ First, and Mana campaigned to raise the minimum wage to $15 ($16 for Mana).

When a worker at a fast-food outlet asked John Key to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, he  rejected the proposal, saying,

It will go up, but it won’t go up straight away.”

See:  Raising minimum wage won’t cost jobs – Treasury

Key’s right. At the glacial speed that National increases the minimum wage, it will take another three years to deliver $15 an hour.

Yet it took only a couple of years to implement two massive taxcuts that gave hundreds, thousands,  of dollars a week, to the top income earners.

Priorities, eh?

The real insult is that  Key and English both admit that the minimum wage is difficult to live on.

Key said,

Look, I think it would be very difficult for anyone to do that.”

See:  Ibid

GUYON:  Okay, can we move backwards in people’s working lives from retirement to work and to wages?  Mr English, is $13 an hour enough to live on?

BILL ENGLISH:  People can live on that for a short time, and that’s why it’s important that they have a sense of opportunity.  It’s like being on a benefit.

GUYON:  What do you mean for a short time?

BILL ENGLISH:  Well, a long time on the minimum wage is pretty damn tough, although our families get Working for Families and guaranteed family income, so families are in a reasonable position.

See: TVNZ’s Q+A: Transcript of Bill English, David Cunliffe interview

The Department of Labour claimed  a rise in the minimum wage  would cost 6,000 jobs.

But Treasury disagreed, saying,

This has not been true in the past. The balance of probabilities is that a higher minimum wage does not cost jobs.”

Raising the minimum wage would certainly benefit SMEs (Small-Medium Enterprises), as low-income earners spend their entire wages on goods and services. Any rise in paying wages should be offset by increasing till-takings with customers spending more.

So it appears blatantly obvious that no good reason exists not to raise the minimum wage.

After all, in 2009 and 2010, National gave away far more in tax cuts for the rich.

And precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s promises?

Next chapter: 6. Youth Rates



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John Key’s track record on raising wages – 3. Ports of Auckland Dispute

11 November 2012 5 comments


Continued from: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period



3. Ports of Auckland Dispute


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

See: Jackson pulls back from port comments

Putting aside from the myth of  POAL maritime workers earning $90,000 – so what?

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

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

There is also a high degree of price-fixing by shipping cartels, as was pointed out by the Productivity Commision in April,


Full story


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

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

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

Precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s promises?

Next chapter: 4. Rest Home Workers



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John Key’s track record on raising wages – 2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

11 November 2012 5 comments


Continued from: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 1. The “Hobbit Law”



2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period


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

It gives unbalanced power to employers who can blackmail an employee or get rid of them at the slightest whim.

It also makes workers less willing to be mobile in the workplace. Why change jobs at the risk of being fired within 90 days of taking up a new position?

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

See: Will the 90 Day trial period make a difference?

By April 2011, this was extended to all companies regardless of staff numbers.

Has it helped  generate more jobs as National claimed it would?

Evidence suggests it played very little part in creating employment, and indeed unemployment went up after both legislative changes,



So aside from empowering employers and disempowering workers, what exactly was the point of enacting this piece of legislation?

And precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s promises?

Next Chapter: 3. Ports of Auckland Dispute



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John Key’s track record on raising wages – 1. The “Hobbit Law”

11 November 2012 8 comments


Continued from:  John Key’s track record on raising wages – preface



1. The “Hobbit Law”


On 20 October 2010, Peter Jackson released this statement to the media,

“Next week Warners are coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production offshore. It appears we cannot make films in our own country even when substantial financing is available.”

See: Warner preparing to take Hobbit offshore – Sir Peter

It was the opening shot of a public war-of-words between Jackson and his camp, and Actor’s Equity.  An industrial dispute had been elevated to DefCon One, and things were about to ‘go nuclear‘.

Almost overnight, a mood of hysteria gripped the country; we were about to lose ‘Our Precious‘ movies to Eastern Europe, Mongolia, or Timbuktu.

Public panic reached levels unseen since the 1981 Springbok Tour, or the satanic child abuse-ritual stories of the early 199os. There were patriotic street marches (flaming torches were considered but rejected because of OSH concerns.) Union officials were harassed in public; vilified; and threatened with death. A well-known  actress – popular up till this point – considered leaving for Australia after receiving death threats, because of her pro-Union stance.

See: And everybody take a deep breath – please

It was the nastier side of New Zealand’s collective psyche which we’ve come  to be familiar with. We do ‘mob hysteria‘ very well.

John Key and National would have none of it, of course. Dear Leader acted with authoritarian style not seen outside ex-Soviet republics, African, and Middle East  dictatorships.

As the Dominion Post reported,

The Hobbit dispute was resolved after Warner Bros executives jetted into New Zealand for a meeting with Government ministers at Mr Key’s official Wellington residence, Premier House.

After two days of tense days of talks with Warner Bros bosses, who were chauffeured around Wellington in Crown limousines, the Government agreed to a raft of measures including a $20 million tax break to keep the two Hobbit movies in New Zealand.

An agreement to change New Zealand’s employment laws clinched the deal after studio bosses and Jackson threatened to move production off-shore over a stoush with the actors union. Labour lawswere were [subsequently amended].

See: PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting

The labour law that the Dompost piece referred to was the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill which made film industry workers independent contractors by default – thereby changing the definition in employment legislation of what constitutes an “employee”.

See: The Hobbit law – what does it mean for workers?

Even if the nature of your employment mirrors that of an employee with a boss who determines your hours of on-site work; supplies all your tools and work materials; dictates your workplace requirements, including meal breaks – your employer can still treat you legally as a “contractor”.

A worker under these conditions has all the obligations of an employee – but none of the rights.  That same worker may be deemed a “self employed contractor” – but has none of the usual independence of a contractor.

A worker in this “limbo” has had all his/her security of employment; minimum wages;  holidays; and right to collective bargaining stripped away.

In effect, for the first time in our democracy, a government has legislated away a  workers right to choose. They no longer have any choice in the matter.

All done at the stroke of a pen. No consultation. It was all decided for you, whether you wanted it or not. Only a totalitarian, One Party, regime could match such dictatorial powers.

The “Hobbit Law” took precisely two days from First Reading to Royal Assent. An Olympic record in law-making.

See: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 – Legislative history

By 21 December 2010 – two months after Jackson had sent the entire nation into a spin with his first press release –  an email dated 18 October, to Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee, revealed a startling new picture,

There is no connection between the blacklist (and it’s eventual retraction) and the choice of production base for The Hobbit”.

“What Warners requires for The Hobbit is the certainty of a stable employment environment and the ability to conduct its business in such as way that it feels its $500 million investment is as secure as possible.”

See: Sir Peter: Actors no threat to Hobbit

Peter Jackson and John Key knew precisely how to pull this country’s strings and make workers and the public dance to their tune. They managed to con workers to demand losing their own rights as employees. Well played, Mr Jackson, Mr Key.

So precisely, how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s promises?

Next chaper:  2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

See also previous blogposts:Muppets, Hobbits, and Scab ‘Unions’, Roosting chickens


Tech Dirt: The Hobbit Took $120M From Kiwi Taxpayers – Maybe They Should Own The Rights (5 Dec 2012)

Fairfax Media: To save regular earth, kill Hobbit subsidies (6 Dec 2012)



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John Key’s track record on raising wages – preface

11 November 2012 19 comments





By now, I think most readers of this blog (and other sources of  political information) will recall certain statements made by Dear Leader over the last four years,

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

See: National policy – SPEECH: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

“One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere.

To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.” – John Key, 6 September 2008

See: National policy – Speech: Environment Policy Launch

“I don’t want our talented young people leaving permanently for Australia, the US, Europe, or Asia, because they feel they have to go overseas to better themselves.” – John Key, 15 July 2009

See: Speech: Key – business breakfast

“Science and innovation are important. They’re one of the keys to growing our economy, raising wages, and providing the world-class public services that Kiwi families need.” – John Key, 12 March 2010

See: National policy – Boosting Science and Innovation

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

See: Statement to Parliament 2011

The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, 21 December 2011

See: Parliament – Speech from the Throne

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

See: Key wants a high-wage NZ

Key has repeated the same pledge every year since 2008. It has become a mantra, “raise wages, raise wages, raise…”.

But words are easy. What has been Key’s actual track record? How does Dear Leader’s words reconcile with his actions? What have been the results?

The following chapters give an insight into the rhetoric and reality of the National Party and it’s leader, John Key.

1. The “Hobbit Law”

2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

3. Ports of Auckland Dispute

4. Rest Home Workers

5. The Minimum Wage

6. Youth Rates

7. Part 6A – stripped away

8. An End to Collective Agreements

9. Conclusion

10. A New Government’s Response



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Muppets, Hobbits, and Scab ‘Unions’

9 October 2012 8 comments

From a previous blogpost; Roosting chickens,



I think we all remember the ‘Hobbit‘ fiasco, last year. The cast of this little tragi-farce included Actor’s Equity; Peter Jackson; Warner Bros; and John Key and his guvmint.

It also included a gentleman by the name of Greg Ellis, who played a ‘bit part’, as leading a “break-a-way” group of actors (numbers unknown) and formed the so-called “New Zealand Actors’ Guild – Te Taurahere i Te Hunga Toi Whakaari“, in October 2010.

Mr Ellis formed the NZAG to oppose Actor’s Equity, who at the time were attempting to negotiate with SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association – Waka Papaho). The NZAG came out firmly in support of Peter Jackson’s views that actors and production workers were “independent contractors”, and not employees…

… According to NZAG/Greg Ellis, Actor’s Equity were firmly cast as the “bad guys” in this affair. Actor’s Equity had no right to demand negotiations to improve the conditions of actors and other staff. After all, as NZAG claimed, “almost all actors prefer to be self-employed contractors”.

The government, led by our unfeasibly popular Prime Minister, John “The Baptist” Key, acted accordingly. They fulfilled their cameo-role as The Guvmint , and amended legislation that ensured that actors and other movie staff were independent contractors – not employees. At the stroke of a legislative pen, the rights of an entire class of New Zealand workers was taken away.


NZAG was little more than a scab-union. It’s creator, Greg Ellis, a relatively unknown “actor” may have had the best intentions in breaking away from Actor’s Equity, but he was nevertheless a pawn (a rather small pawn) in the game that the Big Boys were playing in this international industrial dispute.

Such is the role of the scab ‘Union’ – to play off worker-against-worker; to muddy the waters and cloud issues; and most importantly, to do the bidding of the Employer.

Ironically, Ellis’s naiveté came back to bite big chunks from his arse last September when he railed against one of the very issues that Actor’s Equity was campaigning on, when National announced,

Key players in the New Zealand film industry have raised concerns over new law changes, which they say could stifle local talent both in front and behind the camera.

On Friday the government announced that entertainment industry workers entering New Zealand to work for 14 days or less, would no longer have to be approved by a local film industry guild.

The move comes almost a year after the government secured the filming of Sir Peter’s Jackson’s The Hobbit through an urgent amendment to employment law, which prevented independent contractors from claiming entitlements as employees, as well as an agreement to increase the tax concession for big screen productions. ” – Dominion Post, 25 September 2011

Ellis’s bleating response,

Recently the NZAG was asked, along with various other industry guilds and unions to comment on further aspects of the new immigration regulations – this time relating to production companies applying to become accredited employers for the purposes of bringing in overseas performers.

The NZAG had several points to make, which included:

  • there needs to be more drilling down into the types of NZ employees that a business or production has. It is all very well to say a production has 25 kiwi employees but if they are all admin staff this is no use to us. At minimum a production, crew, and talent breakdown is necessary. It would be also desirable from the NZAG’s perspective to see whether the performers employed were principals, supporting cast, featured extra or extra. Again it is easy to say “we employed 200 kiwi actors on our film” but if all 200 were extras then this is not the best outcome.
  • etc,” – NZAG, 29 March 2012

That’s the trouble with scab unions – it can be damned embarressing when they forget their place and attempt to play the role of a real trade union or professional association.

Lobbying on behalf of your members is not the  raison d’etre for scab unions.

The place of a scab union is to know your place and remain there.

This is a lesson that Grant Lane, disaffected ex-Maritime Union member and organisor of the breakaway scab-union, ‘Portpro’ should learn, and learn quickly.

Like Greg Ellis,  Lane formed his breakaway “union” to create a puppet workers’-front more sympathetic to employers’ demands.

Lane insists that his “union” is independent, but this is patently untrue. Facts reveal otherwise,

  • POAL CEO, Tony Gibson, thanked Grant Lane for signing an employment agreement to cover “Portpro’s” thirtythree members,

The new deal is a partnership which rewards both sides – it delivers a productive and cost-effective outcome for the port, and well-paid jobs for PortPro members. Ports of Auckland wishes to thank PortPro for the positive and constructive way they approached bargaining, which has been completed efficiently and without disruption.” – Source

It’s unclear what sort of “bargaining” took place when, as CTU president Helen Kelly revealed,

PortPro simply agreed to all of the port’s bargaining points” – no weekend loading, no standard shifts. The contract  removes all security of employment.”

“Bargaining”? More like a good rodgering.

  • If  “Portpro” is as independent as Lane insists, why was POAL stevedoring manager Jonathan Hulme listed as a contact for maritime workers wanting to join the new “union”, or wanting more information about “negotiations”?

Since when does a senior management official become a contact for a trade union?

Such an arrangement  is unheard of in the annals of industrial relations. The only inference one can take is that “Portpro” is a stooge for  POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd).

Otherwise, would POAL management volunteer to offer services to the Maritime Union? Yeah, right.

  • Port spokeswoman Dee Radhakrishnan said there had been no company involvement in setting up the new body, but it was legally obliged to respond to the group’s bargaining overtures.” – NZ Herald, 24 Sept 2012

Since “Portpro” has never had any collective agreement with POAL, it’s unclear as to how the port company was  “legally obliged” to “ respond to the group’s bargaining overtures“.

If I set up a new “union” called the “Funky Union for Corporate Kickbacks” and approach POAL – are they also “legally obliged” to “respond” to me? Cool!

At any rate, Port manager Hulme denied knowing “how to get in touch with Portpro” – despite  Port Spokeswoman Dee Radhakrishnan explaining that “it was so he could refer them to Mr Lane for information about the proposed bargaining”.


POAL need to get their ‘cover story’ straight, it seems.

POAL and “Portpro” achieved a “negotiated agreement” just nine days after beginning negotiations. (See:  Ports gains quick collective agreement from new union)

Really? Nine days? What took them so long?

Surely the deal should’ve been signed, sealed, and delivered,  nine minutes after “Portpro” was officially registered.

After all, it’s fairly obvious to anyone with two firing neuron-cells that “Portpro” is a creature of Ports of Auckland Ltd. It is no more “independent” than my thumb is from my hand.

Such front-organisations are also illegal under the Employment Relations Act 2000. The Ministry of Business, Innovation, & Employment website states quite clearly,

What the Employment Relations Act requires

The Employment Relations Act 2000 requires a union to be an incorporated society, to be independent from employers, and to have a set of rules that comply with the requirements of the Employment Relations Act 2000

Independence from employers

A union must be independent of, and be constituted and operate at arms length, from any employer.

The Registrar of Unions may examine applications for registration as a union to determine whether or not an applicant is independent of any employer. If an applicant is not independent of any employer, the Registrar must decline to register it as a union.

Employer support for the formation and/or registration of a union will not, in itself, prevent registration. The Registrar of Unions will consider all relevant circumstances including the nature and purpose of employer support and any employer influence over the nature or scope of the union’s activities.” (Source)

New Zealanders should be wary of these kinds of  “independent unions”. They are not here for our benefit. They are here to drive down wages; reduce conditions; and increase profits for employers and shareholders.

Workers who organise such “unions” are prostituting themselves for corporate interests.

Workers who join them do so at the peril of all workers in this country.




Previous blogposts

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Toru)

Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

Roosting chickens


The temporary website for the NZ Actors’ Guild (since Oct 2010)

Law changes ‘could stifle screen talent’ (25 Sept 2011)

Port to hold talks with union of non strikers (24 Sept, 2012)

Rebel union signs deal with port – “a partnership which rewards both sides” (5 Oct 2012)

Ports gains quick collective agreement from new union (6 Oct 2012)

Maritime Union laughs off rival in Auckland port dispute (6 Oct 2012)

New port union could spell trouble – lawyer (6 Oct 2012)


Ministry of Business, Innovation, & Employment: Union registration and administration



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Citizen A – 21 June 2012 – Online now!


Citizen A


– 21 June 2012 –


–  Efeso Collins & Phoebe Fletcher –



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

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

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


Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)




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It appears that the pro-POAL Facebook page, “ has been taken down.

The FB page was set up on or about 13 March,  by an anonymous author, and was a pro-Tony Gibson, pro-company mouthpiece.

The Admin was unapologetic  in his/her pro-company stance, and we can only wonder who was behind it.

It appears that the page may have been shut down as it was “swamped” with people expressing their free opinions that the workers were most definitely in the right – and POAL Board and management were being arses.

FB can be a very effective tool to highlight injustice and promote decent causes.

Not so good, though, for being a propaganda mouthpiece.

Solidarity to the Auckland port workers. You guys are fighting the good fight.



*raises a glass to working-class heroes*


* * *



Andrew Parker



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Weak Comments of the Week – 31 March



This week, two comments by public figures vie for top placing as the Foot in Mouth, Weak Comment of the Week. Both are so unbelievably unconvincing that it speaks volumes about how these people view the public as fools…

Candidate #1: Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL)

However, Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said the back down was an attempt to reduce pressure on the supply chain, where the company was “acutely aware” that customers and businesses were hurting. ” – Source

POAL has listened to the wishes of the Court, as well the views of the Mayor and all other stakeholders”, Gibson said. ” – Ibid

Oh gosh, Tony, you think ?!

The port workers collective employment agreement  expired on 30 September 2011, and formal negotiations had been ongoing since 5 August 2011 – over half a year!

In that time, POAL announced an agenda to casualise the workforce ; contract out jobs;  workers have been forced to resort to strike action to secure their jobs and conditions; and the company  exacerbated the crisis with needless, expensive  lockouts.

Even the Employment Court found that the port workers had an “arguable case“.

In all that time, as weeks turned into months, and the intransigence of POAL Board and management worsened, importers and exporters were bleeding money,

Weekly trade worth around $27 million – and $90,000 to $100,000 a week for the port – will instead be rerouted through the ports of Tauranga and Napier from the end of the month.” – Source

Has it taken six months for Tony Gibson to recognise that ” customers and businesses were hurting “?

Nah, rubbish.

Gibson, Pearson, et al, have endured an embarressing bollicking from the Employment Court decision that their lockout was illegal; they had most likely broken the law (vis-a-viz the Employment Relations Act) in terms of bargaining in good faith; and that the Maritime Union had an “arguable case”.

Claiming to be suddenly concerned for the welfare of Auckland businesses and  that  ” the back down was an attempt to reduce pressure on the supply chain ” is disingenuous.

And just a little bit darkly cheeky.




Candidate #2: Michelle Boag, ex National Party President


This one is a ‘classic‘, and I think most folk will understand why I had a tough time trying to determine whether Gibson or Boag’s comments merited the most derision,

One of her advisers, anticipating that a confidential settlement might be reached, said it would be wise to include all the people who were aware of the dispute so that if any of them asked afterwards, Bronwyn would not be accused of breaching confidentiality. ”  – Source

The comment refers to Bronwyn Pullar’s letter to her insurance company Sovereign, seeking $14 million in compensation for a head accident she suffered ten years ago. (I make no judgement on this matter. Personal experience with other individuals has shown me that head injuries can create long-lasting mental and emotional effects.)

However, in Ms Pullar’s letter – which yet again was leaked to the media (TVNZ’s “Close Up” programme) – she listed twentyeight people  as members of her supposed “support/advisory team” including Prime Minister John Key, ex-Prime Minister  Jenny Shipley, National Party fundraiser Selwyn Cushing,  and ex-minister Wayne Mapp.

John Key has steadfastly denied any involvement in being  included in the list.

Wayne Mapp and Selwyn Cushing have admitted involvement.

Now, for Ms Boag to suddenly claim that ” it would be wise to include all the people who were aware of the dispute so that if any of them asked afterwards, Bronwyn would not be accused of breaching confidentiality ” – is simply bizarre. It makes no sense.  It is clutching at straws and offering the most feeble excuse imaginable to explain why Ms Pullar’s letter  required 28 high-powered New Zealanders to have their names included in her letter.

In short; bollicks.

Anyone with two inter-connected, firing, neurons would understand that listing 28 prominent individuals would be done for one reason only; to add weight to Ms Pullar’s claim against Sovereign Insurance. In effect, she’s saying, “Look here! I know all these High Ups! Don’t mess with me or they may do ‘XYZ’ to you! So gimme the cash and I’ll go away.”

That would tie in with allegations (unsubstantiated) that she requested two years’ worth of benefits from ACC “to move forward”.

So, no, Ms Boag. Your rational for why those 28 names were included in Ms Pullar’s letter is nonsense. More than that, it’s an insult to our intelligence.

If you’re going to bullshit us, can you at least make it convincing?



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Employment Court Upholds Maritime Union Injunction!

29 March 2012 6 comments

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






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




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


IN THE MATTER OF an application for declaration, proceedings removed from Employment Relations Authority
AND IN THE MATTER OF applications for interim injunctions


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






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

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

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

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

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

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

Factual background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arguable case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


B S Travis


Judgment signed at 11.00am on 29 March 2012





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

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

Long may this continue.

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


* * *



Helen Kelly



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Gerry Brownlee – “In the public interest”

24 March 2012 3 comments


Full Story


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Related Blogposts

Gerry Brownlee – Diplomat

Finland, some thoughts



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Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#rima)


Last night…




In the NZ Herald,  Port chairman Richard Pearson said,

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

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


Common sense prevails!

People were practically dancing in the streets!!

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


Full Story


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Full Story


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

The Auckland Council has every right to be concerned.

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    • (c) agrees to perform the work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radio NZ: Listen to more from Richard Pearson on Checkpoint



Ports negotiator alleged to have sought workers

Other Blog Posts

Chris Trotter: Only People Power Can Save Our Ports

Tumeke: PoA u-turn over manufactured crisis

No Right Turn:  Psychopathic management in action

Socialist Aotearoa: There is Blood in the water



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Paul Holmes, Port workers, and pay questions

20 March 2012 2 comments



A few days ago,  in a column in the NZ Herald, broadcaster Paul Holmes passed judgement on the dispute between Port workers and their bosses, Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL). Holmes found in favour of the bosses, stating,


Also for Q+A I had cause to really brief up on Auckland’s waterfront dispute and two of the leading protagonists came in on the programme last Sunday morning, the union president, Garry Parsloe, and the Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson.

Both were engaging men. And isn’t that an interesting thing? I hardly ever meet anyone I don’t like. Everyone wants the best for their people. Trouble is that people’s views of what’s best differ so widely. Causes trouble.

Anyway, I formed the view that the ports company have not been ungenerous in their offers to the union. In fact, even Auckland Mayor Len Brown himself agreed that the company’s first offer made early last September should have been accepted.

The offer would have rolled over the collective agreement and given the workers a 2.5 per cent pay increase each year for three years. There were several offers but early on the company decided it could no longer tolerate its workers getting paid for sitting around doing nothing.

I do not believe the union when it says that it’s a lie that the workers earn in excess of $90,000 for an average 26 hours work. Ports of Auckland had Ernst and Young audit the figures. And that’s something you notice about the ports’ conduct throughout the dispute. They’ve done things very thoroughly.

The union’s argument that its people ceasing to be permanent staff would mean that their families couldn’t plan things was obliterated by the company’s offer to roster the men for 160 hours a month, and the roster delivered a month ahead. For the life of me, I can’t see what’s wrong with that.

I think the union was dyed in the wool. I think they didn’t read the signs. Before they knew it, it was all over. Nearly 300 men were made redundant, just like that. End of story. I think there were some hardliners who’ve buggered things up for everyone. Hysteria is never a good thing.


I find Holmes’ jaundiced views  on this issue highly ironic.

Aside from the fact that he has uncritically swallowed the POAL claim that Port worker’s are paid ” in excess of $90,000 for an average 26 hours work ” based on an Ernst & Young “audit” (of which we have been given only a summary, and not the full report on how that figure was calculated) – Holmes should have good cause to feel greater empathy for the much-maligned striking workers.

From February 2001,


Evening Post - 2 February 2001


Evening Post - 12 February 2001


Paul Holmes had every right to feel aggrieved. The storm of angry criticism  over his salary amounted to little more than a moral panic from ‘armchair knitters’ – members of the public who had little better to do than chide a public figure for a perceived ‘sin’.  Most of the criticism was based on the misconception that Paul Holmes’s salary was paid out of taxpayers’ money.

He was actually paid out of advertising revenue and sponsorship  from various businesses that wanted their corporate name, products, and services associated with the highly rating ‘Holmes‘ programme at the time.

I recall writing several letters-to-editor on this issue. Even celebrities, I felt, deserved a measure of common sense and public criticism of Paul Holmes for being paid $770,000-$780,000 was unfair, unwarranted, counter to my understanding of the Kiwi ethos of giving people a fair go.

Back to the Future…

So for Paul Holmes to join in with the POAL to put the boot in to port workers is disappointing. Of all people, he should be painfully aware of what it’s like to be judged harshly, in a very public way, by people who don’t have the facts at hand.

There is an old saying which I try to live by (despite my own personal  mistakes in my life);  “There, but for the grace of god, go I“.

Paul seems to have forgotten that simple truism.



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Port Dispute Updates



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.”



* * *


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.

* * *

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;


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


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?!


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

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.


… “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’.

* * *

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.


Nick Kelly, addressing the gathering.


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.


17 March


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.


Bulldogs on ports of auckland picket line.


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,


Bulldogs and actors on Ports of Auckland picket line.


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!


* * *




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.


* * *


What You can do to help:

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



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



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


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


Buy a T-Shirt!



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


Stay staunch, folks – justice is on your side!




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Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

12 March 2012 2 comments


POAL playing monopoly with lives


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,


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


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?


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.


PAUL The Australian ports are all contracted out.


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.


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



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…


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


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


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


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.



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,


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


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.



Ports of Auckland Labour Strategy (leaked memo)



= fs =

10 March – Today was a True Labour Day!

11 March 2012 8 comments



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,


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.


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,




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


* * *


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,


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)


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)


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


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)


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)


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


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


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


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)


Thousands march!(Acknowledgement for photo: save our


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


– Roll Call of Honour –


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!


* * *



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



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?



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,



Exploitation of workers: bad

Safeguards for workers: good





Exploitation of workers: ok

Safeguards for workers: meh



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

Ok, carry on.



Propaganda as an industrial dispute weapon?

27 February 2012 14 comments



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

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


Full Story


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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is not resolution – this is escalation.

Who will PoAL call upon next?


Sent to Mayor Len Brown


from:    Frank Macskasy
to:    Len Brown <>
date:    Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM
subject:    Port Dispute – Escalation?


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

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

Questions arising from PoAL’s actions,

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

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

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

4. Does Auckland Council endorse these tactics from PoAL?

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

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

In case you have not see the material I am referring to, the relevant information is here:

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

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

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

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

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

– Frank Macskasy
Frankly Speaking


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

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

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

Kind regards,
Office of the Mayor
Auckland Council – Te Kaunihera O Tamāki Makaurau
Follow Len Brown on Facebook & Twitter


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


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

Dear Frank,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kind Regards,
Donna Lovejoy | Mayoral Correspondence
Office of the Mayor, Auckland Council
Level 1, Town Hall, Queen Street, Auckland
Visit our website:


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

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





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

Chris Trotter: Equal and Opposite

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

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