They say that the nice thing about Cameron Slater is he’ll believe whatever he’s paid to believe. Yesterday, I asked whether Slater is being paid to run dirt stories for Ports of Auckland. He didn’t deny it. So what is the Port’s propagandist up to? Yesterday, he was calling for the workers’ pay to be slashed while defending the directors’ massive fees.
In my previous post, I wrote:
Cameron Slater’s rate is $10,000 for an operation like this
There is no way I’d do what I am doing for $10,000 as a fixed fee, for something like the Ports of Auckland I’d probably do it for $20,000 after a discount for the sheer fun of union bashing
He didn’t admit being paid but his failure to deny it when given the chance is evidence itself. Unless his “I’m not being paid by Ports of Auckland” keys were broken. Slater doesn’t run this kind of intense campaign for the hell of it – it’s his occupation. And why would he be running the Port’s lines for free? Who are they to him? It’s not like a shipping line or an exporter moving from one New Zealand port to another matters a jot in his life. Different when you’re getting paid though, eh?
Updated: Ports of Auckland deny paying Cameron Slater anything. ]
In the past, Slater has been quite open about charging $10,000 to run a media campaign for prospective National candidates where he posts dirty little attacks on rivals (fellow National Party members, remember) designed to be picked up in the media, while subtly promoting his client – usually as a ‘there’s no other qualified alternative’ candidate but, hey, it works. So, I assumed he would be charging a similar fee to Ports of Auckland. He, quite intentionally doesn’t deny getting money but likes to pretend its more. Exactly how much Slater is being paid by the Port is for Tony Gibson to answer.
But enough about how much the Port is paying Slater to try to plant anti-union angles in the media. What are the lines he’s running for them?
Well, to start, the mythical $90,000 a year came from Cactus Kate, one of Slater’s occasional sub-contractors, of whom Slater says “there is only two ways to get Cactus Kate to do anything…offers of money or sex with hot men”.
The piddling $2,000 donation that the Maritime Union gave to Len Brown, Slater used to suggest the Supercity mayor was in the wharfies’ pocket. That one didn’t really fly.
But it’s really started to unravel for Slater a bit in the past few days. He had the ground to himself before but now the journalists are back at work and not buying his crap. So, the Port’s propagandist has gone more extreme.
He’s been comparing the mythical $90,000 income of the stevedores to ‘real professions’. First, it was teachers – until the National research unit called and reminded him that the spin is that teachers are a bunch of lazy, unskilled overpaid pricks too. Then it was Police. Apparently, the fact that a stevedore working over 60 hours a week could theoretically earn $90,000 a year while a trainee cop gets $35,000 is reason to cut the wharfies’ pay. No thought of raising the cops’ pay, of course. But that’s the National way, isn’t it, workers who dare to stand up for themselves are spoiled and should have their wages cut, be fired, or worse.
But, hang about. I thought the Port was offering to increase the workers’ wages. Wasn’t there something about an offer from the Port of a 10% pay increase (which Slater called “very generous” in this “economic climate”) that the crazy union had turned down? How come, then, that the paid propagandist is trying to lay the case for their wages being cut? Could it be that, in fact, the union is right, that the Port’s aim of casualising and contracting out the workforce is all about cutting wages and the 10% hourly increase won’t make up for the lost hours.
Seems like the Port isn’t getting value for money when the propagandist is arguing that the wharfies’ deserve to have their wages cut. Rather undermines the spin that the Port is the good guys, eh?
But, if this is the test now – that anyone earning more than a cop should get a pay cut – why start with the wharfies?
Why not start with Cabinet ministers on quarter of a million a year? (they don’t even need to have any qualifications!)
Why not start with bloggers charging $10,000 to rig party selections? (or, at least stop claiming the sickness benefit, if you still are, Cameron)
Why not start with Tony Gibson, who is on $750,000? (although, to be fair, it is well known that Gibson has the strength of 10 stevedores and can unload 30 containers an hour with his bare hands)
Why not the Port’s directors, who get $83,000 a year each for doing two-fifths of bugger all?
Slater went off his rockee yesterday when one of our commenters miscalculated and said the Port’s directors get $160,000 a year. He devoted a long post to showing it is ‘only’ $83,000 a year.
Remember, being a company director isn’t a full-time job or even a part-time one, really. The directors of the Port typically hold 4-5 other directorships or the like, and a presumably similarly well remunerated in those roles. But Slater, trolling through our comments sections (well, there’s nothing happening in his to warrant attention), devotes a whole post to a commenter double counting the directors’ fees – It’s not $160,000 each for bugger all work! It’s $80,000 each for bugger all work!
The wheels are starting to come off this one a bit for Ports of Auckland. Their paid propagandist is misfiring, their spin is unraveling.
People are starting to ask why it is that the second-most productive port in Australasia is crying ‘productivity crisis’ when it paid an $18 million dividend last year, gave its senior managers a 20% pay rise, and paid staff bonuses for increasing productivity by 4.1%.
They’re starting to wonder: if the Port’s offer is really so generous, them why have the workers turned it down and, if the Port is such a wonderful employer, why won’t it agree to let the workers keep their conditions with an inflation-matching wage hike?
They’re starting to question who is really holding Auckland’s economy to ransom when the Port threatens to sack the second-most productive stevedore workforce in Australasia and then try to employ replacements for worse pay.
And they’re starting to see the buzzards circling – the Righties saying that privatisation is the solution, the other Righties saying that tearing up our work rights is the solution, the Righties attacking workers merely for having supposedly generous conditions in their contracts – and they’re getting the sense that there’s a bigger game afoot.
Catherine Etheredge says :-
I am the Senior Communications Manager for Ports of Auckland and I can categorically confirm that we have not paid and will not pay Cameron Slater anything.