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POAL falling apart

Written By: - Date published: 2:29 pm, March 30th, 2012 - 47 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, class war, jobs - Tags: , ,

Things are not going so well for Ports of Auckland.

Judge Travis has stated that they are arguably in breach of the Employment Relations Act. The full ruling is here, and a summary of some of the key findings here (Thanks Frank).

Then there is news today that POAL Director Rob Campbell has resigned over a “difference in views on board strategies” – in other words Campbell has had enough.

And now just breaking, “Ports of Auckland lifts lock-out amid board rift“.

POAL tactics have been rotten from the start, and it’s no surprise to see their position falling apart. The cost and disruption to the workers, the port, the city, and indeed the country, was all unnecessary. What a waste.

47 comments on “POAL falling apart”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Thinks are not going so well for Ports of Auckland.

    Mistype or an auto-correct error?

    The cost and disruption to the workers, the port, the city, and indeed the country, was all unnecessary.

    And for that they should all be fired. No golden handshakes, no redundancy, no comeback and probably banned from being a director/manager for at least 5 years (we really can’t afford such incompetence).

  2. Tom Gould 2

    Reportage of this development has been pathetic, painting POAL as the heros ‘turning the other cheek’ for the greater good of Auckland and the economy, whereas they have been found to have screwed up totally and on the edge of complete humiliation. I guess the juniors writing this nonsense have their ‘riding instructions’ from their Tory bosses, but really, a nod in the direction of ‘fair, balanced and accurate’ would be nice.

    • shreddakj 2.1

      Yeah it’s been like this since the start. You’d see a TV segment about the dispute, and they’d show 4-5 clips of Pearson and co. explaining why they need to cut workers hours, and only one soundbite from MUNZ.

  3. vto 3

    It is called karma. Ignore at your peril… as these fools seem to have done.

  4. Curious 4

    Curious, will it still be considered a victory if less people are employed ?

    • Blighty 4.1

      why would fewer people be employed (or more correctly, fewer hours worked) than under the counter-factual of contracting out, where the Port would have complete freedom to employ people for as few hours as it likes?

  5. Te Reo Putake 5

    My read of the last 24 hours at POAL is that they had a meeting yesterday to discuss their tactics for today’s hearing and the majority of the board indicated they were shaken by the tone of Judge Travis’ words in his reasoning for granting the injunctions and wanted to settle. Rob Campbell obviously wanted to see it through to the bitter end, but was overuled or outvoted and has quit as a result.
     
    The rest of the board have now run up the white flag, while instructing Pearson to put out a media statement that tries to retain as much dignity as possible as they go into mediation to negotiate the terms of surrender.
     
    Hopefully, MUNZ will now drive a harder bargain and rescind their earlier acceptance of some aspects of casualisation. That should ensure more permanent work, while they can still offer some flexibility within the framework of guaranteed job security.
     
    This really is a vindication of MUNZ’s strategy and a major victory for local and international solidarity. It’s not over yet, but this has got to be a real blow to the NACTM governments plans to turn the NZ workforce into a 3rd World/thirties depression style employment pool.
     
    I hear David Shearer’s next big speech is going to be on industrial relations and work. It should be very interesting, indeed.

  6. From Frank Macskasy’s summary:

    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.

    I recall sitting watching 3News reporting that employment lawyers gave MUNZ little chance of success in court because they didn’t have a leg to stand on, and thinking “Wtf? Little chance of success? How can these PoAL morons not be in breach of the good faith bargaining provisions of the Act?”

    • Craig Glen Eden 6.1

      The media has been bias from the start just look at that ridiculous story about John Walkers wife being threatened. The headlines scream that its to do with the POAL and MUNZ dispute but read it and you find no such thing. The picture of John Walker with his gold medal run in the back ground, then we find out the threat was not against his wife but the threat was that the caller was going to take him John Walker to court. WHHOOOAAAA big bloody deal. But its a great Headline to misinform the punter leaving the impression of the Union being the bully. Same old shit!
      Interesting that this is on the same day that the article comes out with the actual judgement which is a big slap in the face to POAL and its Board. Granny Herald strikes again.

    • Adele 6.2

      Psycho,

      I have worked with the Employment Relations Act for both employer and employee, and I thought MUNZ held a very good case to bring forth under good faith bargaining. I’m surprised employment lawyers offering independent advice would have said otherwise – but then lawyering is always part bullying.

      • DH 6.2.1

        I expect you’re far from being the only one thinking that way Adele. A lot of employers & professional managers will have been watching this with interest and wondering what POALs angle was. The employment court ruling was common sense to most anyone who follows our labour laws. Was POAL bluffing all along or were they perhaps led to believe they’d get a compliant judge?

        What I find hard to comprehend is the high risk nature of POALs approach, the stakes were very high and if they lost it was always going to cost the port owner a fortune. You don’t hire managers to risk your investment in this manner, what really is going on there?

        • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.1

          the stakes were very high and if they lost it was always going to cost the port owner a fortune.

          Won’t cost POAL management and Board a fortune though, will it. All care but no responsibility.

          Bottom line is that neither their Board nor management have been acting in the best interests of the port or its shareholders. And Len Brown has been, in public, fine with it.

          • DH 6.2.1.1.1

            To be fair to Len Brown the legal side of employment law is likely beyond him. He’s a mayor, not an employer, and you’d need to be in a professional capacity like Adele above to really see how arguable & risky POALs actions were. Brown could only have addressed the moral & ethical issues, not the professional ones.

            I agree with your point and I think ACIL needs to be held responsible as well. The left could turn this to their advantage if they play it right; when the dust settles and the final bill comes in play the blame game & clean out some of Hide’s appointments.

            • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.1.1.1

              To be fair to Len Brown the legal side of employment law is likely beyond him.

              ????? Excuse me for being briefly harsh.

              seriously? Brown gets paid a quarter million plus a year, has a whole legal team at his beck and call, personally interviews and selects his own senior office staff, has 23 people in the mayoral office, and the best you can come up with is that employment law is beyond him?

              Dude, even a corner 24/7 dairy owner who hires part timers has to understand the really difficult employment principles of “due process”, “fairness”, “genuine consultation” and “non-prejudgement”

              Fuck talk about setting low to negligible expectations that a mayor who got voted in on supporting the working class should actually go ahead and support the working class.

        • aspasia 6.2.1.2

          “The employment court ruling was common sense to most anyone who follows our labour laws.”

          It seems so to anyone who comes from a pluralist perspective on labour law. For an absolutely fascinating insight into the probable legal advice given to POA watch the second half of the Court Report Series 4 number 0ne. Just skip right through the Collins interview.

          http://tvnz.co.nz/the-court-report/s4-ep1-video-4793338

          These two senior members of the Employment Law bar also (unwittingly?) provide chilling analysis as to why the forthcoming changes to our employment legislation must be fought with every resource available.

          If David Shearer’s next policy speech is on industrial relations will it recognise the seriousness of the situation?

          • DH 6.2.1.2.1

            I’d hardly call my view pluralistic, just rational. The arguments about contracting out being separate don’t make sense and are irrelevant anyway. The stated intent to contract out created a take it or leave it scenario in the negotiations which is in conflict with the principle of good faith bargaining. You can’t bargain in good faith when you’re holding the sword of damocles over the other party’s head can you.

            It’s that simple IMO and it looks to me like the judge saw it that way too.

            Interesting link, thanks for that. Goes to show just how wrong the lawyers can be doesn’t it. Not hard to pick whose side they’re on is it?

    • Vicky32 6.3

      I recall sitting watching 3News

      Typical of  3 News!

  7. ad 7

    Pretty amazing it took the Mayor this long to say he was going to “write a letter” to the Auckland Council Investments Board. The Mayor is clearly far weaker and more recalcitrant than the neutral judiciary at every point in this saga. Which unfortunately frames h is politics clearly. Ooooh, write a letter.

    If that 1980s turncoat Rob Campbell can see how bad it is and get out of the Ports Board, then surely the Mayor can have the courage to act.

    Why is the Mayor so incompetent and weak at governance issues?

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Why is the Mayor so incompetent and weak at governance issues?

      Probably never needed to govern before.

      • mike e 7.1.1

        ACT Rodney Hide set up these council owned businesses and appointed the boards and now they are pushing Act policy through the back door!

  8. Rosemary 8

    Does this mean Slater will have to concede one point to MUNZ? Doubt it. What a fool he is.

  9. bad12 9

    A serious arguable case that the Ports of Auckland has breached its legal obligation to bargain with the Wharfies in good faith,

    We have this to say,hats off to all those up there that stood together on this,the Wharfies,their families and those from near and far and wide who have supported their actions during this dispute,

    To Lefty Len Brown we have this to add,what price those chains Len the total disregard of the rights of those you supposedly support and who have put you where you now sit???

    Sack them all,the board of Ports of Auckland we are talking about here Len,appoint a new board for the ports company and make damn sure that the present CEO takes the same walk as the board,

    Man up Mr Mayor your tenure so far has you looking more akin to a cheese eating rodent than a ”leader” of a super-city,

    Re-unionize the ports whole work-force,we are damn sure that this can be achieved and still give the City its yearly 30 pieces of silver in return….

    • coolas 9.1

      Well said. Huge lack of ethic of Len’s part. It was obvious from the start this dispute was about union busting. Len should have seen that. Organised labour is the only way to protect workers from exploitation. Free market place of workers must be resisted at every turn. Len doesn’t get it. Helen Kelly does. She’s been brilliant.

    • burt 9.2

      Re-unionize the ports whole work-force

      Cool, then we can have strikes and not care about the costs – but lockouts are so expensive we must not have them….

      • bad12 9.2.1

        Every worker who takes strike action feels the costs first,on a more personal level, and, for longer than those not involved so NONE of the workers we have ever met who have voted for and been involved in ANY strike action have ever taken strike action AND NOT CARED ABOUT THE COST,

        It is our opinion that employers stoop to locking out parts or all of its workforce in an attempt to break collectives of workers to the will of those employers to impose conditions upon such collectives of workers which in the course of a bargaining taking place from a position of good faith by both employer and collective of employees the employees would never agree to such conditions,

        Our further opinion is that befor an employer can issue lock-out notices to workers or collectives of workers leave of the Employment Court should have to be sought showing both fair and reasonable grounds for locking out the workers and with the employer giving an undertaking that such a lock-out is in fact not an act of bad faith in the bargaining process with the workers…

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.2

        You do realise that all the expense so far has been incurred solely due to the actions of the board don’t you?

  10. Tc 10

    Epic fail on lens part, he’s never going to be wanted by the right and his inaction has devalued his stock with the left.

  11. outofbed 11

    The whole problem started when Poal slashed its rates for one of its larger clients (Mersk i think) in 2007 to unsustainable levels.
    They were trying to get work from Taraunga. This strategy failed when all the other shippers wanted reduced rates. and left the operation of a profitable Auckland port marginal.
    POAL keeps on keeping on with piss poor management

    • burt 11.1

      Piss poor management indeed – they don’t even have control over the terms their workforce operates under.

      • bad12 11.1.1

        Once again the ”model” of competitive capitalism fails abysmally to evolve instead opting for a attempt at diving headfirst back to the labor management and employment policies of the Victorian era…

      • Psycho Milt 11.1.2

        The whole point of a union is to prevent absolute management control over working conditions. And anyone who considers absolute management control over working conditions to be a good thing is either stupid or evil.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.3

        Piss poor management indeed – they don’t even have control over the terms their workforce operates under.

        Wow…you do understand that an employment agreement infers meaningful input and influence into the contract from both sides right?

  12. Wharfie 12

    There will not be less labour,volumes are increasing by an average of 8% per annum and if there is no union man will go.There also was never any concessions given in respect to casualisation.The focus will now be on getting a collective document that will be future proofed in terms of ensuring a secure future for the membership particularly in light of the fact the Port when running is nearing capacity and plans are in place for the next 40 years.TAKE NOTE NO CASUALISATION AND NO REDUCTION OF LABOUR.

    • burt 12.1

      Wharfie

      When does the intimidation of the other people just trying to feed their families stop?

      IrishBill: When does the righties trying to spread PoAL lies in our blog comments stop? Hint: for you, right now. Take a week off.

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        When does the intimidation of the other people just trying to feed their families stop?

        When they stop trying to do it by effectively starving other families, and in the end, worsen the deal for themselves too with their short sightedness and lack of solidarity.

  13. For those looking for a chance to show some financial and fun times support for the wharfie whanau – there’s a special screening of The Muppets (not the ones from POAL!) on on Tuesday night in Auckland: http://www.facebook.com/events/377436645624537/

    You can get a ticket (or more than one!) for yourself or buy a solidarity ticket to shout a wharfie or whanau for $20 by emailing julie.fairey@gmail.com for details. If any Standardistas wanted to put up a post about it that’d be choice – while hopefully we can slow down on the fundraising now, there’s still been over a month without pay for almost 300 families and it’s not over yet.

    • Tom Gould 13.1

      Is this the one starring the brain dead chooks covering the dispute in the MSM? Like that guy who spends time up at the casino? The one who values privacy so much? Is he in it?

  14. Bruce 14

    National campaigned on stemming the flow of Kiwis to Australia (half of my family are over there). I didnt vote for this shit. I voted for the Labour party in support of working people in NZ. In light of the poor support of NZ workers by Labour in the last few years, I am leaning towards the Greens now.
    Give NZ employers too much power and this is the result.

  15. prism 15

    I noticed Rob Campbell has stepped down from PoL. On radio reports his union connection was mentioned. I looked at a report on 1984 and Lange’s short day followed by Douglas et al. These are quotes about the changes.

    Economist Peter Harris, who led the charge for the unions against what became known as Rogernomics….Rob Campbell, who at the time worked for the unions alongside Harris as an opponent of Rogernomics but later became a cheer leader, said the labour movement had expected a traditional Labour programme.
    (But the programme was revolutionary.)
    It transformed an economy from what Lange described as operating like a Polish shipyard into one of the most deregulated free market economies the industrialised world has known.

    Link – http://www.sharechat.co.nz/article/07c29b10/opinion-the-rogernomics-revolution-20-years-on.html

    So the present PoL dispute has connections way back. The ports were known to be tightly controlled and it was thought they got better wages and conditions than was reasonable. There didn’t seem to be a way to work with union to modernise, control costs and improve handling rates. It seems that business has now achieved that, has a well functioning port, so why contract out and lose steady jobs that people can build a life around?

  16. Fortran 16

    It is understood that Rob Campbell was one the leading Board members who wanted Contracting Out to continue.

    He resigned not because of his one time Union affiliation, but because the Board climbed down.
    Put Cathy Casey on the Board Len. Then we will see some real action.
    The Battle’s won but not the War.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 16.1

      Rorting Rodney’s hand-picked crop of abject failures couldn’t beat the union even after four years of NAct attacks on workers’ rights. Rob Campbell is the only person to lose his job so far, but I think we can be confident the board will be shedding some more gangrenous limbs soon.

      Still, I admire your loyalty Fortran.

    • prism 16.2

      Rob Campbell doesn’t appear to have had any concern for his erstwhile union mates for a long time. Rob has does wonderfully well for himself as a director of this and that and union affiliations wouldn’t have had any lustre in that background.

    • Vicks 16.3

      Och poor Rob, do you think he might be consulting his union about workplace bullying and wrongful dismissal…!!!

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