Today Ports of Auckland sacked 292 employees in the pursuit of the unobtainable by the idiotic.
The Ports of Auckland documents showed that, from the start, they intended to provide a conflict with the intent of sacking all the workers and rehiring them on worse conditions, saving $6m (20%) in wages a year. The amount of money saved was a pittance compared to the underlying problems the port needs to fix.
The decade long failure to put the required capital into the port as Don Baird from Mainfreight talked in the latter half of this nine to noon segment segment this morning is far more important for raising port efficiency.
Rather than concentrating on what is required to make the port more efficient, the management chose instead to provoke a attention diverting but basically meaningless conflict.
Over the last decades the Ports of Auckland has been systematically starved of capital to upgrade cranes and transport systems by the demands of ratepayers wanting reduced rates. Successive councils have raided the profits of the Ports of Auckland thereby reducing the ports ability to make better returns.
The port sacking their employees will do nothing much to either their bottom line or for the supercity council’s stupid and unsustainable demand for a 12% return. It is more likely to reduce the efficiencies at the port over the long term. Casual workforces aren’t usually particularly motivated and have high turnovers.
In the short term the port management has bled money. In addition to the costs of the industrial action and the court actions that I’d expect to continue as they try to discriminate against unionists, they’re now going to have to pay out considerable redundancy payments. In many cases, they will pay redundancy to someone that they will be employing the next week.
At the bottom of all this is an irrational system of competing ports that are being forced to return exorbitant profits while fighting each other for the limited number of cargo ships that visit New Zealand. The only place they can find to cut ends up being the workers’ wages (the CEO’s wage is off the table, of course). How does this race to the bottom benefit New Zealand families? It doesn’t. Only the international shipping lines win when our ports compete and try to cut each other’s throats.