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1951 it ain’t, for now

Written By: - Date published: 8:38 am, January 16th, 2012 - 120 comments
Categories: greens, labour, national, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Some have compared the Port of Auckland dispute to the 1890 waterfront dispute, 1913 general strike, and 1951 lockout. They want Labour and the Greens to get involved. Actually, this is no 1951 redux. The POA fight is just about one company trying to undercut another. The net effect on New Zealand is zero. The last thing the workers need is Labour creating an excuse for National to attack them.

Yes, this is a labour dispute on the wharfs, too, but that’s where the similarities with the past great stoushes end at the moment. The first obvious difference is scale: 1913 and 1951 involved tens of thousands of workers on the wharves and in related industries – they effectively shut down New Zealand as a trading nation for weeks and months. No such thing has happened or will happen in the current dispute. Only 300 workers in one port are involved at present and there have been a few hours delays for a handful of ships on the 5 days of striking. Those disputes were about workers trying to win fundamental gains: the right to form unions, the right to paid breaks, the right to a fair pay increase. They were about the fundamental balance of power between capital and labour. There is no ‘national interest’ in POA getting what it demands. This dispute is about a business trying to cuts its wage bill so that it can undercut a competitor.

And that’s why, for now, Labour and the Greens are smart to stay out of this, and why the union wants them to stay out. The parties wouldn’t do any favours to the workers if they turned what is essentially a story of a greedy company and workers just wanting to keep what they’ve got into a national political issue.

That would end up hurting the workers’ interests and probably the parties too – it would justify National going nuclear on work rights; tying the wharfies to Labour would justify National attacking them (hence Farrar and Slater’s desperate attempts to link them). And, frankly, do you back Labour’s PR team to do more good than harm to the wharfies’ cause? I don’t. For the same reason, the Occupy movement should stay clear of the wharfs for now. As much as you might agree with their principals, their public image would hurt the wharfies by association.

[this is where Chris Trotter always falls down. He likes to concoct grand scenarios but never understands how they would actually play out in the real world]

That will change if  National tries to use the port dispute as an excuse to attack workers’ legal rights and wages. That would be a political fight that Labour and the Greens, along with the labour movement more generally, would need to be in. That would be part of National’s broad-based attack on anyone who dares to join a union or ask for a fair deal at work. It would be a fight the Left could win.

But you can see the difference in the politics of National taking this issue up to the national political level and Labour and the Greens doing it: National siding with out of touch corporate elite in smashing a group of workers who are doing nothing worse than trying to keep their livelihoods, or National taking on a group allied to its opponents that is trying to hold the country to ransom.

National probably is planning to leverage this dispute into some kind of attack on work rights and a fundamental capital vs labour fight may development but the best way for Labour and the Greens to prepare for that is to stay clear of it for now. They need to have their strategy ready for when the time comes but, in the meantime, the focus should remain on winning the fight as it is: 300 working people who are just trying to make ends meet and an incompetent and greedy management that wants to slash wages.

Win or lose, if the workers can undertake this skirmish without overt support from the parties then a full-scale assault on workers’ rights will be much less politically viable for National, and the skirmish is more likely to be won without the parties getting directly involved.

120 comments on “1951 it ain’t, for now ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    OK, so I see the logic for Labour and the Greens to stay mum on this for now. But what about Len Brown and the Auckland Council? They are the ultimate owners of PoA and they appear to have given the directive for PoA to substantially and rapidly raise their dividends paid, regardless of the means employed.

    • Blighty 1.1

      yep. the council had a vote didn’t they were they voiced confidence in the POAL board by one vote? Be interesting to see what the soft support votes were.

      The council should sack the board for, after less than a year in the job, creating a serious industrial dispute causing the port to lose major customers.

      If Brown could get the numbers for that he would a) get rid of the ACTiods that Hide put on the board and b) help frame the dispute without directly expressing support for the workers.

    • Fotran 1.2

      The OWNERS are the RATEPAYERS of Auckland, not Len or the Council.

    • The logic of Eddies argument is defeat. The stakes are higher than 51, the bosses are stronger and want to carry their recolonisation to the point of privatising everything. The unions are weaker and Labour is a sellout party. In 51 they wanted to break the power of the unions, now they want to destroy the unions.

      Therefore, instead of trying to minimise what is in reality a class war, and rationalise defeat, we need to expose its full dimensions and prepare for an all out fight.
      When 51 went down to defeat it was a heroic defeat when workers stood up against a cold war reaction against organised labour. The unions survived, statified, but today they are infinitely weaker. This time the bosses want to get rid of even the weak, statified unions that exist.
      Therefore we can’t fight on the same of economistic, bourgeois legal terms. The survival of the unions is at stake.

      To win this one we need to take the fight way beyond MUNZ to the whole CTU, and to the majority of workers who are not unionised. We have to present the big picture. This is not business as usual lets wait for a Labour Government. The NZH is already editorialising what Labour has to do to win next time. There is a campaign from left to right to ‘normalise’ this dispute as an ‘aberration’ caused by ‘extremists’ on one or other, or both, sides.

      We have to shift the argument away from business as usual. What is the 1% up to? They are waging a global class war and winning. To keep their wealth they have to attack us and deny us the most basic rights. So how to question this and get our message across that this is make or break time?

      Where is there a movement that is already doing this? Occupy has shifted the terms of the debate and questioned the legitimacy of the 1% to live of the 99%. That’s breaking with economism and and business as usual and challenging the system. Its incorporating into an economic critique of capitalism an environmental, social and moral critique. Occupations necessarily break the law and bring about the violent reaction of the state denying democracy.

      The logic is to take the Occupation to the point of production and expropriate the 1%. Occupy Oakland is already showing the way shutting down ports and building mass pickets. We need to harness this social movement to the unions.

      • Colonial Viper 1.3.1

        Tend to agree. Priming up for anything less than a fight for life is problematic IMO.

        The unions should not have backed down from taking on the ECA in full scale class war. We are all poorer for the fact now.

  2. Gosman 2

    What happened with that smoking gun that you guy’s posted last week? You know the one that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the management at POAL were bargaining in bad faith. Surely the Union has done something with this.

    • Zetetic 2.1

      I understand they are

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      Surely both the NZ Herald and TVNZ would have put it up as the first line of any story they wrote about the Port. Or, they might choose to ignore it in favour of soft focus photos of the CEO.

    • queenstfarmer 2.3

      And surely they will. Having read it, I wouldn’t call it a smoking gun, but it does provide some ammo for a claim by the Union that the Port has acted in bad faith, which is unlawful.

  3. muzza 3

    “Mr Brown dismissed calls from members of the right-leaning Citizens & Ratepayers councillors for partial privatisation of the council-owned ports company, saying it was a critical piece of infrastructure which he had a very clear mandate to keep in public ownership.

    He said a debate on ownership of the port company was one for an election campaign and had no plans at this stage to change his position.

    C&R councillors Christine Fletcher and George Wood have suggested a partial sale of the ports company along the same lines as the National Government’s “mixed ownership” model.”


    It is clear what this beat up is about – Today we see the Govt are making it easier for the corporations to rape our landscape – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10778983

    Gosman – people such as yourself are traitors to this country!

  4. muzza 4

    ‘Mr Brown dismissed calls from members of the right-leaning Citizens & Ratepayers councillors for partial privatisation of the council-owned ports company, saying it was a critical piece of infrastructure which he had a very clear mandate to keep in public ownership.

    He said a debate on ownership of the port company was one for an election campaign and had no plans at this stage to change his position.

    C&R councillors Christine Fletcher and George Wood have suggested a partial sale of the ports company along the same lines as the National Government’s “mixed ownership” model.”


    Lets just the the rape and pillage begine then – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10778983

    Break union, create slave labour which competes with eachother for pennies, mining, prospecting, asset and land sales….

    Must sound great to the like of you Gosman!

  5. nadis 5

    “The last thing the workers need is Labour creating an excuse for National to attack them.”

    And yet this sums up completely the problem Labour has. Forget whether the issue is right or wrong, it’s more important to play politics. I think you are right on the longer term strategy, but the problem for Labour is they are not seen to have an opinion on this, and when they do have an opinion it is likely to be conflicted and incoherent. Lose/Lose – at least if the public knew what Labour stood for they’d get some respect.

    The real villain here is not ports management – it is the city council. It looks to me like a case of “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest.” You give management a particular mandate and a particular toolkit – don’t be surprised by the outcome. What else did you expect? The only way this won’t get to the end game of contracting out is if the owner yanks the chain on management.

    • Gosman 5.1

      Yes it is rather funny that the ‘evil’ capitalist in all this is actually the people of Auckland.

      It is especially sweet when you think about all those left wing Auckland based bloggers and political commentators who were campaigning for Len Brown for Mayor on the basis he was going to be the saviour of the assets of Auckland from those nasty right wingers.

      • muzza 5.1.1


        Is this what you want Gosman?

        FYI – I am not right nor left, and Nadis’ response about Labour illustrated what I have said previously – Labour and National are the same party!

        • The Voice of Reason

          ” Labour and National are the same party!”
          If you don’t know the difference, Muzza, then you really should give politics a swerve and take up knitting. And “I am not right or left” is loser code for “I am right wing”. Ask Pete George.

          • Gosman

            Muzza probably doesn’t really understand the differences between left and right hence why he can claim that he is neither.

            I suspect if pushed he would state something like ‘I’m an economic nationalist’ This is just a code word for old school Muldoonist. He probably votes NZ First or Conservative.

          • Colonial Viper

            But don’t say that it cannot happen.

            In the US you have a choice between The Bankster’s Corporatist Party and The Other (Occasionally Gentler) Bankster’s Corporatist Party.

            How spoilt for choice is that.

          • marty mars

            Good point about that sneaky pg VoR and IMO knitting is fun and very political, so maybe a bit of both. As for the interchangable dinosaur parties… the middle like them – says it all really.

          • muzza

            Actually Voice, its not loser code for anything – Its just that I happen to understand that that so far as Labour are concerned there is no “Left” in opposition currently..

            Because some people are not fooled by the current state of what you refer to as “politics”, does not mean we don’t understand the difference between left or right, or that we are not able to agree with cross spectrum policy, should it be for the greater good, regardless of where it originated from.

            And Gosman, I understand much more about economics, finance and politics than you, that much is certain support guy, and also from reading your drivel, much more about life in general – Over a decade living abroad will expand ones mindset

            Clear enough for you two!

            • The Voice of Reason

              Doesn’t do much for me, I’m afraid, Muzza. You’ve gone from claiming to be neither left or right (ie a politically uneducated Right position) to the infantile left (what have the Romans ever done for us?) in a mere two comments. When your political compass stops spinning, you should let us know which way it really points.
              Or, to put in a musical way:

              • muzza

                Got tickets on youself much Voice…

                The fact it does nothing for you, makes SFA difference to my life, and with attitudes like yours, I take it as a compliment. Quite where you get your “Romans” statement from farked if I know sweetheart, you clearly read and interpret whatever you want..On the PoAL discussions, I have given my support to the warfies and union via these blogs, and in person, it does not make me left overall, nor does that mean I am right – You getting it yet?

                Its online this world, you have no idea, my thoughts or understandings, than I do yours!

                Do try evolving emotionally though, it won’t hurt you too much I don’t imagine!

        • Gosman

          Ummmm…. sorry but what has this got to do with the POAL dispute and the fact that it is a hundred percent community owned business?

          • Colonial Viper

            100% community owned, 100% corporatist led

          • muzza

            If you read my large entries today via Penny Bright you might learn something Gosman, you might even begin to understand what the core issue are all about!

    • Blighty 5.2

      remember that it was Hide, not the council that appointed the Port management. But, yes, getting rid of that management is in the council’s hands. For that to happen, they need to feel politically safe, which means continuing to frame this fight as ordinary working people vs greedy bosses, which means political parties keeping their nose out of it.

      • Gosman 5.2.1

        So you think Len Brown has a secret plan to get rid of the management of the POAL?

        Hmmmm…. interesting. So when will this little board room coup take place do you think- Before or after the work force has been contracted out?

      • nadis 5.2.2

        remember that it was Hide, not the council that appointed the Port management.

        not true.

        Management is appointed by the board. Board appointed by Auckland Council Investments ACIL). ACIL controlled by Auckland City Council (ACC). ACC controlled by the mayor and councillors.

  6. lefty 6

    Any political party that uses the word’ labour’ to identify itself should support all workers against bosses all the time.

    If they don’t want to they should drop ‘labour ‘ from their name and call themselves something else.

    Of course the Nats will attack Labour if they support workers, we live in a class society and the Nats are on the side of the bosses and always support them, and are always looking for ways to weaken workers.

    The job of a Labour party is to take the class war to Parliament in the same way the Nats do – not keep finding excuses to have a dollar each way.

    This should be their point of difference with the Greens – who have the same obligation to the environment as Labour has to workers.

    Surely we have learned by now that passively sitting back in the face of attacks on workers won’t stop those attacks. The present government is going to go after wages and conditions regardless and the only way to stop them is an all out counter offensive involving the whole labour movement.

    The Labour Party can be part of the fightback or it can remain on the sidelines. If it chooses the latter it is cementing in its irrelevance to the working class and reinforcing the belief among a large section of the community that there is no way forward using the parliamentary political process.

    Its really a choice between remaining an isolated and despised minority party that doesn’t stand for anything other than becoming government and acting as capitalisms B Team every now and then, or rebuilding into a principled party of opposition that offers a real alternative for the future.

    If the Labour Party decided to show a bit of courage and pick up the challenge to confront the boss class and its lackeys it might find itself ploughing a very fertile political field.

    • Blighty 6.1

      “Any political party that uses the word’ labour’ to identify itself should support all workers against bosses all the time.”

      um. even your union won’t back you come hell or highwater. They’ll back you when your case is just and winnable.

      Now, we all believe the wharfies are in the right – they’re just trying to keep their incomes. The question is whether Labour and the Greens would be doing the wharfies any good by getting involved.

      • The Voice of Reason 6.1.1

        Nicely put, Blighty. It’s about strategy and tactics, and winning the argument. The left does not need another glorious failure.

    • Brett 6.2

      Yeah, that worked so well for the Alliance.
      It’s 2012, not 1912, Labour is just moving with the times.

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.1

        “Moving with the times”?

        And behind that Crosby Textor platitude – tell me, what exactly are we moving to?

        The further advantage of profitability of capital and the further disadvantaging of labour? Those are the “times” you are speaking of, right?

        • Brett

          And behind that Crosby Textor platitude – tell me, what exactly are we moving to?

          Providing representation for a sizeable amount of voters.


          • Gosman

            And being the other main party which manages the Capitalist economy from time to time but with a slightly more social conscience perspective. You’ve got to love modern Western democracy.

          • muzza

            Brett – tell me what happens when the “voters” you feel are being represented become the targets themselves, and in a similar position to the warfies…

            Oh thats right, they already had that happen to them back in the 90’s, so individual bargaining etc it is!

            Also, how can you claim representation when the details and info coming out of the media etc has been low quality, inaccurate and missleding? Is that what you like to base your decision making on, or are you just as happy to claim others are as also, so they can seem ill informed and ignorant too!

            • Gosman

              That’s right. The electorates is largely stupid and can’t be trusted (unless they vote the way you like them to). Hence when they vote in the incorrect manner the result of the election should be declared null and void and a group of ‘estemmed’ citizens should be appointed to run the country in the correct manner.

              • Colonial Viper

                The electorate isn’t stupid. But they have been played to a fine tune by the MSM and various right wing meme’s.

                The left hasn’t helped itself either, mind you.

                • Gosman

                  Oh well, we on the right are just much better at putting forward an attractive meme than you on the left. Of course it helps we have all the money as well.

              • Gosman, for someone who is obviously quite bright and articulate, you show an amazing naivete and lack of insight into matters that take place behind the scenes.

                Your rhetorical questions deal mostly with inanities and minutiae – rarely the issues. You post your questions with a “shotgun” splatter-effect, and whilst someone replies, you go on with your next piece of garbage, posting another short burstr of questions. It’s not really the “answer” that matters to you – it’s some kind of game-playing.

                Thing is, though, after a while folks stop taking you seriously and you become like the village mascot.

                What’s your motivation in this kind of childishness? Oh, that’s easy: attention. You love it. It makes you feel “clever”. You’ll post the most facile questions, and wait for others to jump to post answers that actually hold no relevance, and certainly no interest to you.

                Which is why, most of the time, unless you post something of pertinence, I personally can’t be bothered with you. Sorry, Gosman, but… you’re boring.

                • felix

                  So very very boring.

                  There’s only a few of us ever bother with him anymore and that’s only to make fun of him.

                  Why would anyone read his guff when they could just go to whaleoil?

              • Jum


                ‘vote in the incorrect manner the result of the election should be declared null and void and a group of ‘estemmed’ citizens should be appointed to run the country in the correct manner.’

                And that’s precisely what this authoritarian govt did with ECAN. Removed a democratically elected council and moved in NAct monkeys.

                I expect that will happen with Auckland soon.

  7. Pundit X 7

    You’ve got to hand it to Brown he’s managed to convince Labour’s activists that he was going to preserve jobs and prevent assets sales, yet at the same time he’s unleashed the neoliberals on the wharfies with the abandon of a man bereft of political ideals. Clearly when Len was saving jobs it was the white collar LGO’s he was talking about and not blue collar wharfies. Brown represents a new kind of Labour politician in that you occasionally need a reminder that he IS actually Labour.

    One can only hope that those Labour insiders who so assiduously prevented any other left candidate from running in order to promote a Brown mayoralty take him to one side and remind him what it actually means to be Labour..

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Hey Pundit X, wasn’t one of Len Brown’s campaign managers also one of the big backers of David Shearer’s leadership campaign?

      • Pundit X 7.1.1

        Len’s spinmeister Conor Roberts penned Shearer’s 50 million lives 50 million dollars quote..

  8. randal 8

    I dont give a stuff a bout who did what last year.
    where is len brown now and who owns the Ports of Auckland?
    The people or the frigging manager?

  9. Pundit X 9

    As Matt McCarten so eloquently put it in his Herald on Sunday piece yesterday: “When Len Brown was asked for a response to Ports of Auckland’s plan to casualise the jobs of waterfront workers, couldn’t he have simply said that as Mayor he supported well-paid, fulltime jobs for workers in his city?

    Instead he bent over backwards to distance himself from the wharfies and asked the workers this week to negotiate “more flexible work practices to reflect changing trends of the international shipping market”. Quite..

  10. nadis 10

    Here’s the problem:

    POAL’s ROE increases from 6.3% to 12.0% over the following 5 years

    POAL’s crane rate increases from 26.3 to 31.6 over the following 3 years

    POAL’s vessel rate increases from 53.8 to 59.3 over the following 3 years

    (from http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/aboutcouncil/howcouncilworks/acilstatementofintent2014.pdf)

    Council (not the Business Roundtable, not Rodney Hide, not management, not the board, not shadowy global capitalist cabals) require significant profitability and productivity gains. So just the increase in ROE is around 5.4%, and that’s excluding any additional return required for any retained earnings over the next 5 years. And productivity gains on the 2nd and 3rd measures of between 3 and 6% per annum.

    So management has been told by their owners “double your ROE”. Biggest variable cost at the port is labour – of course they are going to attack that. The problem is not management or the board – it is the rapacious greed of the owner of the port.

    • muzza 10.1

      Someone read the SOI finally – Did I miss the credits for who authored this document? Who advises the council on what the ROE’ etc should be, because I think this would be rather interesting reading..

      The SOI , IMO shows only where there are many opportunities for parasite services to leech of the tax payer funded operations – Can we get some consultancy figures as well, and lets see where the waste lies!

  11. nadis 11

    Just to be clear – in 2011 POA made a profit of 38 million. The council is requiring POA to roughly double that over the next 5 years – i.e., find ANOTHER 38 million of profits.

    So, is it not obvious where the root cause of this dispute lies?

    • Blighty 11.1

      its revenue is only 175m. so that’s a massive ask.

      • Gosman 11.1.1

        So it is really the fault of the Council then. Good to know. I trust that those of you bad mouthing the management will redirect your attacks to the relevant parties now.

        • Colonial Viper

          I bet the Board convinced the Council it could be done and to back them. Len Brown has no doubt had the extra dividends already factored into the city budgets (i.e. counting his chickens before they hatch).

          Essentially the Board and Executive Management have backed Council into a corner where they have to back the smashing of the union, because they see that as the only way to hit the numbers.

          Fucking brilliant and explains much.

          • Gosman

            Any evidence for this little scenario or is it just a wild flight of fancy?

            • Colonial Viper

              Any one can look at the scenario I outlined and decide for themselves whether or not it fits what we can see happening, or whether its just martians from outer space. I leave it to you.

              • Gosman

                Or you could find out pretty easily by looking at Council records and perhaps even asking the Mayor and Councillors. That would be to much like real investigation though. Much easier just to make stuff up and suggest other people can take it or leave it.

                • Colonial Viper

                  So are you all talk and no action? Why don’t you follow your own brilliant plan and do some digging.

                  Don’t get envious of me just because I perceived a likely scenario which didn’t even occur to you.

                  • muzza

                    What many people on both sides fail to realise, is that we are all ultimately the losers in this fight, should we stand around looking to pick holes, and try argue for inconsequential issues…
                    I’m interested to know how many people on this site are actually doers, and by that I mean, not just having a blog etc, thats all very helpful and there is some great info which comes out, but is it really making a difference?

                    Serious question, I am not just looking to stir, in fact I am looking to see if there are actions which might be passing me by to get involved with moreso!

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I’m a fraking real life doer. But I’m not as dour in real life as I am on The Standard. RWNJs and cheap Tory hacks seem to bring that part of my personality out into sharp relief 😀

            • mik e

              New Zealand businesses are not very good at coming up with new ideas to make money so the only answer is to keep reducing costs bean brained bean counters.

              • Colonial Viper

                When you say that you actually mean NZ managers and business owners. 90% of them anyway. Including some of the foreign sourced ones we seem to have been getting over the last few years.

          • Gosman

            Len Brown could come out and state that he was convinced by the management of the POAL about the higher revenue targets but he hadn’t realised this involved destroying the livlihoods of the workers. As a socially concerned mayor he now acknowledges that this is unacceptable and that he will advise the council to relook at their budget. You guys would love him and the many hundreds of thousands of people who voted for him would look favourably I suspect as well. Do you think this is likely to happen?

      • Bafacu 11.1.2

        Don’t you mean WAS $175M – before the wharfies striking caused the loss of both Maersk and Fonterra? Going to be a lot harder now – well done Parsloe!

        • Georgecom

          No, but maybe before Maersk decided they could extract a better deal from Tauranga and used the POA dispute as an excuse to do so.

          Sort of like the last time a high media profile work dispute occurred, the Hobbit. Peter Jackson and his American movie studio used the dispute to extract an extra $20 million from the NZ tax payer and the Prime Minister who also used the dispute for his own cynical purposes.

        • Colonial Viper

          Hey Barfacu

          the Directors and CEO of PoA should be fired for their inability to retain valuable clients.

          Their fault, they are trying to scapegoat their mess and incompetence on much lower paid and less powerful people in the port. The ordinary workers.

  12. aerobubble 12

    I’m not swayed by the ‘strategic asset’ threat since its own by the council. But I suppose
    that’s the whole point, weaken the union so its easy to sell off. The question is though, are
    our other ports foreign owned. Will they all become so?

    So the right want a fight and want to destroy the pork unionism.

    yeah, yeah, do away with parliament, let the big corporates control everything,

    deregulate!!!! privatizise!!!

    Unlike any other country I can think of, we have just 120 representatives, that’s
    far too small and if Labour is choosing fights it should be to grow our representives.
    Another destruction of NZ soverign control over its economy? Why so easy!
    Simple only 120 MPs for the lobbiests to get around.

    • Gosman 12.1

      So your solution to increase the size of parliament is it? I’m sure that will go down well with the electorate. They generally view our current crop politicians very unfavourably. I’m sure they would have no problem paying for another few dozen to sit around parliament doing not much. For your information the number of Central Government MP’s we have versus our population is quite large (i.e. we have less people per MP).

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        Nah, just take apart the CCOs and let an elected Auckland Council Asset Management Office directly operate the port.

      • mik e 12.1.2

        Gooseman for you information we have less MPs per head of population than most countries, especially countries our own size.
        Compared to Australia we have a lot less MPs
        Most of your rhetoric is just 100% BS

        • Frank Macskasy

          Quite correct, Mik E.

          On one episode of Q+A, they stated that Australia had less MPs per head of population than NZ.

          But what Q+A failed to include in their figures was the STATE members of parliament. They had only quoted FEDERAL mps. Not very honest.

          I took the producer up on it, and recieved a bizarre response…

          NZ actually has less MPs per head of population that most other democracies.

          • Gosman

            Ummmm…. I think you will find that I stated Central Government MP’s not MP’s in general. We certainly have more MP’s per person compared to the English. But feel free to try and sell that to the NZ public that we need more MP’s. I think you will find there isn’t much support for it.

            • Frank Macskasy

              “I think you will find that I stated Central Government MP’s not MP’s in general. ”

              On what basis do you make that arbitrary distinction?

              You might as well say; “I think you will find that I stated left handed MPs with a facial tick, who drive 1999 Subarus – not MP’s in general. ”

              What’s the difference between Federal and State MPs? Both pass laws for their jurisdictions and both pass laws relating to taxation.

              “We certainly have more MP’s per person compared to the English. ”

              Ok, let’s turm your nit-picking on you for a bit: that statement makes no sense. There is no Parliament for “England”. The Parliament sitting in London is for the United Kingdom.

              • Gosman

                It should be quite clear why I used England rather than British Frank but just so someone who isn’t as politically aware as others can understand I’ll spell it out. England only has Westminster representing them. Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland also have Regional assemblies. It was called devolution. You may have heard about it but possible not it seems.

                • The Voice of Reason

                  Nice dissembling, Gos, but it would be simpler to just say “you’re right, Frank, I meant British”.

                  • Gosman

                    No, I specifically and deliberately chose England for the reasons I gave. The English do not have a Regional Assemply. I have no idea about the ratio of MP’s to population in places like Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. It may very well be lower than NZ. However I do know the English ratio is higher than ours by a long way.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The situation in the UK is also complicated by the nuance that local councils are also divided on political party lines.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      The ratio is the same for all parts of the British Parliament. There are 650 MP’s (I think that’s still right?), representing however many million people there are in Britain now. I think it’s roughly an MP for every hundred thousand people. So their electorates are definable smaller in area than ours, but much higher in population. 
                      The 3 assemblies don’t have MP’s, by the way, and the voting systems are different to the British Parliament, so your quibbling continues to look pretty weak.

                    • Gosman

                      I’m sorry but you are quite wrong

                      Here is Scotland – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/177.aspx Note they are Members of the Scottish Parliament. In other words MP’s.

                      The point being the Welsh Scots and Northern Irish have a representative layer that the English do not have. Now I don’t know if this impacts significantly the ratio of MP to population but I do know that approx 50 million English have a higher ratio than Nz. That was my point.

                • Rubbish. Don’t be so dense, Gosman.

                  The Parliament of the United Kingdom is sovereign. It holds sway over Scotland, Wales, and Nthrn Ireland.

                  Their Regional Assemblies are just that: regional assembles, and are subservient to Parliament. The Welsh and Nrthn Ireland Assemblies have limited powers, the Scottish Assembly has more power.

                  But for all intents and purposes, real political power resides in the UK Parliament. As you yourself found out; there is no English Assembly or government at all.

                  Hence why Scotland is considering holding a referendum on independepence, and why the UK Parliament must consent to it. (Refendums are not binding on the UK Parliament.)

                  By the way, VoR is correct, the Lower House of the UK Parliament holds 650 MPs.

                  Doing some sums…

                  New Zealand
                  Population: 4,414,000 (2011 est.)
                  MPs: 121
                  Politicians per people: 1/36,479

                  United Kingdom
                  Population: 62,262,000
                  MPs: 650
                  Politicians per people: 1/95,787

                  But wait! There’s more!! (*snigger*)

                  The UK also has an Upper House, the House of Lords. If we take the 788 Lords into consideration, the figure for the UK changes;

                  United Kingdom
                  Population: 62,262,000
                  MPs for Upper & Lower House: 1,438
                  Politicians per people: 1/43,298

                  Not much difference to New Zealand.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    You also have to do it per square km.

                    In NZ your local MP is sometimes far far away from you. NZ has far fewer MPs per land area.

                    • I concur, Viper.

                      In fact, the whole issue of the numbers of MPs, to me, is a red herring. It’s an argument often perpetrated by the libertarian brigade, whose mantra “Less Government is Best” is at the heart of their little numbers game.

                      I guess, taken to it’s ultimate ridiculous conclusion, the lowest possible number of MPs is: 1. They are often referred to as Dictators or Kings.

                      Or, we could have: 0. Which would be the Anarchistic system of (non-)government.

    • Bafacu 12.2

      You are obviously deluded if you want to increase the number of “representatives” to try to prevent “lobbyists” from getting around them all.

      What is needed is less of the bludgers, but with more quality so the rubbish that’s there already (thanks to the lefts’s insane support for MMP) can be got rid of.

      • Colonial Viper 12.2.1

        MMP is a proportional system which means that every vote counts.

        Obviously you think that is a bad thing, every vote counting.

        BTW the party with the most useless backbench bludgers is National.

        • Bafacu

          No CV I don’t have a problem with every vote counting, it’s just that a system that was designed to ensure that no party could rule on their own has many inherent faults, including in our country the disproportionate amount of “List” MPs who have no mandate from the people but a mandate from the “Party” (whichever Party that is).

          Most useless backbencers (in order):
          NZ First
          Labour (especially Jacinda!)

          Ask and you shall recieve – it’s just the question that needs clarification or the answer may be meaningless!

      • “What is needed is less of the bludgers, but with more quality so the rubbish that’s there already (thanks to the lefts’s insane support for MMP) can be got rid of.”

        The “left”?

        Well, bugger me – I thought it was the people of New Zealand who voted for MMP.

        “…including in our country the disproportionate amount of “List” MPs who have no mandate from the people but a mandate from the “Party” (whichever Party that is).”

        “No mandate”?

        You mean that Hekia Parata and Chris Finlayson (both Government ministers) have no “mandate” to be in Parliament. *tsk, tsk*

  13. Pundit X 13

    @Gosman. Personally I’m an equal opportunity bad mouther Len or management. They’re both determined to make the wharfies pay and conditions turn to shit. Len should know better..

    • Gosman 13.1

      Why doesn’t he then? I mean he was elected as the left’s candidate in the Supercity Mayoral race. So how come he has decided to abandon this straight forward situation where the nasty corporations are trying to screw over the poor benighted workers? Has he sold out? If so I expect an alternative leftist candidate would be coming forward to contest the next race then.

      • Colonial Viper 13.1.1

        I think I explained the most probable scenario. Auckland City has already factored in promises of greatly increased dividends from the port and Len Brown sees no other way of raising that same cash.

        Basically the Right have run an excellent job backing the Council into a corner where they have to stand back and let the union breaking occur.

        Of course, after that happens, the PoA still won’t be able to deliver the promised dividends but by then it will be too late to do anything else. The union will be broken which is all that matters to the Right.

      • Jum 13.1.2


        you’re the one talking left and right candidates for Auckland Mayor. As usual you are talking out of your arse. I wanted Brown because he promised to retain assets which belong to all Aucklanders. I also voted for his ideas on public transport because it is people that matter not profit and greed.

        Banks, the only other main contender was known for getting rid of valuable assets like the Pensioner flats (probably not valuable to you gosman but valuable to the Pensioners and to any sense of social conscience this hick town called Auckland has remaining to its credit) and would certainly have sold off all our other Auckland assets; the 1st Auckland bill allows POA to be sold off from July. That’s why the killing off of workers’ rights to job security is being sped up.

        There’ll be no part sell off with that. It has been mooted that Gibson and co. could retain the asset but sell off the workers’ job security; that’s just jargon. Once the workers’ rights have been subjugated to foreign demands (as in the Hobbit theft of workers’ rights by foreign demands) it is no longer our asset. We have lost control.

        ******31st January Ports of Auckland, from 7am for 24 hours – be there, people, to support your country’s future. This country is very sick because the medicine that the witch doctors running this country have forced upon it is weakening its strength which is its people.

  14. Pundit X 14

    @Fotran I’ll just flick Len a quick mail then and Let him have my view as a ratepayer. That should sort it…

  15. Pundit X 15

    @CV +1

  16. Pundit X 16

    Same old same old. Blue collar getting screwed to keep white collar in career and salary.

  17. Reposted from elsewhere, 28 Auckland Local Board members have come out opposing privatisation of the Wharf and the contracting out of union jobs and supporting good faith bargaining.

  18. Jenny 18

    This dispute is about a business trying to cuts its wage bill so that it can undercut a competitor.


    Eddie why are you repeating the right wing narrative, that this dispute is all about wages?

    When the facts on ground disprove this right wing narrative.

    The union have offered to make every concession asked for by management.

    Except the one the company wants –

    – To agree to allow themselves to be contracted off the wharves.

    The Ports Of Auckland Ltd.have stated that their intent is to make all union members redundant and replace them with contractors.

    And they demand that the union agree to allow this right to get rid of the union, to be written into the employment contract.

    This has been POAL’s starting position even before the negotiations for a new contract started.

    POAL have even been guilty of trying to contract out union jobs before the term of the last employment contract was even over.

    Now POAL want that right written into the new contract!!??

    Obviously, the union must oppose management terms that would mean their dissolution, and eviction from the port.

    This is a clear case of union busting.

    Eddie, in repeating the right wing narrative that this is about wages, are you frightened to make a stand one way or the other?

    Why Eddie, why?

  19. james 111 19

    I see that the union has issued another Strike notice they really arent working in the interest of their members.
    The other thing that I cant understand when they had their talks last Thursday why did they out forward their existing collective agreement when it expired in August. That was never going to be accepted b yPOA in full

    • McFlock 19.1


    • burt 19.2


      It’s not about the workers – it’s about Labour party policy ! It seems the union will happily wreck the lives of these individuals to advance the best interests of the Labour party. Kind of sweet really in a “the cause is bigger than the man” sort of way but I do wonder if POA workers actually know that they are just pawns in a bigger game.

      Some of them might have made different decisions along the way if they knew that MUNZ would shaft them completely to appease their Labour party masters.

      • felix 19.2.1

        How strange, I thought the Labour Party was controlled by the unions.

        Wish you’d make up your mind.

        • Anne

          …. I thought the Labour Party was controlled by the unions.

          Wish you’d make up your mind.

          It depends on who burt was last listening to.

      • The Voice of Reason 19.2.2

        The port workers are putting their money where there mouths are and you, Burt, are just flapping your gums. You’re a gutless wonder, pal.

      • “It seems the union will happily wreck the lives of these individuals to advance the best interests of the Labour party.”


        How on Earth do you rationalise that?

        Jeez H, you rightwingers (with one or two exceptions) make the most bizarre, wacked-out statements.

        • mickysavage

          Burt is a waste of screenspace and bandwidth.  If there was an app that removed his comments discussions and the would would be so much better.

          • Colonial Viper

            Oh Noes! Police state Lefty censorship! How typical! Can’t win an argument so you resort to state violence to silence your critics! Cowardly Commy Lefties! No wonder John Key rules with 97.4% approval ratings, you Leftys are PATHETIC and ENVIOUS of his money and his success and his popularity! Trust the likes of you HATERS to try and tear down a HARD WORKING SELF MADE SUCCESS STORY like John Key!


      • Georgecom 19.2.4

        Burt, what actually IS your point?

  20. Jenny 20

    Some have compared the Port of Auckland dispute to the 1890 waterfront dispute, 1913 general strike, and 1951 lockout.


    Actually Eddie;
    The most common comparison being made by union officials and the wharfies themselves, is not the three examples you mention. The 1998 Patricks Dispute is the most common comparison raised.

    I can personally vouch for this. I actually went and talked to the union officials and visited the picket line.

    One union leader told me “We are in a Patricks situation”.

    No one I talked to, mentioned 1890, or 1913, and even 1951 if mentioned at all, was only mentioned briefly in passing. The most often mentioned comparison was the Patricks dispute. This was for several reasons. One, several of the union delegates and officials had actually taken part and been involved, going to Australia to join with their Aussie brothers and sisters on the picket line.

    As well as being a lived experience by some of the wharfies involved in this dispute, Two, significantly it was a victory for the workers.

    Your omission is odd, because the third reason why the Patricks is the most commonly discussed is that it is the most similar to this dispute.

    Just google Patricks dispute and you will see the similarities.

    Wharfies laid off by the main employer and replaced with contractors. Just as being proposed here by POAL.

    Eddy, either you have not talked to anyone actually involved with this dispute, or if you have, you have deliberately decided not to mention this comparison, instead mentioning disputes of the past that have little relevance to this dispute. Why?

    What are you up to Eddie?

    Are you deliberately trying to create misdirection?

    Is your fear, that if this dispute gets much bigger, the Labour Party will have to make a stand, either for, or against the union movement?

    Instead of belittling this dispute. I think, you should face your fear of having to take a position, and Labour Party supporters and leaders like yourself, should go down to the picket line and actually talk to the workers.

    I am sure you would find it a heartening and empowering experience, and something worthy of your support.

    If you can’t bring yourself to go this far just yet, check out the photos and stories posted by Simon Oosterman and carried on this blog, you will get a hint of the honesty and quiet courage of these workers facing an implacable employer determined to sack them and replace them with non union workers.

  21. Eddie, you’ve presented a cogent, coherent assessment of the situation. It certainly explains one possibility as to why the Labour Party, Greens, and especially the Mana Party have all been silent…

    Ok, I ‘get’ that Labour doesn’t want to go to “DefCon 1” on this issue, and perhaps I ‘get’ your reasoning…

    But another part of me remembers the mid-1980s, when the trade union movement did nothing to resist Rogernomics because they didn’t want to fight their own Party. And by the time the Employment Contracts Act was passed by the succeeding National Government, it was essentially Game Over for the FoL.

    That’s what worries me. Can we afford not to support MUNZ? Because the consequences of an emasculated Maritime Union may be worse than the scenario you posit.

    There is also the problem of perception. As we all know, in politics, perception is everything. (Ok, I know that’s a crap situation – but we’re talking about voters who re-elected John Key, despite opposing asset sales.) Because of that reality, the thought that goes through my mind is what perception the public has of a Labour Party that stands by, whilst a Union is practically smashed.

    Considering that Christine Fletcher and Jamie-Lee Ross (National, Botany) have already made public pronouncements on the dispute – National is already engaged.

    Maybe this is just one of those classic Damned-If-You-Do-Damned-If-You-Don’t situations…

  22. And that’s why, for now, Labour and the Greens are smart to stay out of this…
    Rubbish Eddie. Labour’s raison d’etre is to get involved in this sort of thing. Failing to do so is betraying their founding principles. Coming from an environmental background gives the Greens a little more of an excuse, but not much more. I reckon the Greens are waiting for Labour and probably thinking “where the fuck are they???”
    I understand why Labour would be cautious, they need to figure out how to support MUNZ without crapping on their image. It’s not impossible, in this case and IMO it requires a reasonable position (rather than fire and brimstone) and a measured delivery of the message; something they couldn’t do consistently over the last three years.
    Until they can win battles like this, Labour won’t be ready for government (even if they do find themselves in a position to form one). But after three years of side-stepping and mis-communicating, now is a good time to start getting it right.

    • George D 22.1

      Quite. If Labour can’t stand up here, they have no reason to exist.

      • daveo 22.1.1

        Why would the unions want Mallard and his band of chumps to come rushing to their aid? Given Labour’s recent campaign record I’d rather they offered their help to the port board.

  23. The Chairman 23

    David Farrar says: There will be a war.

    Warning if Shearer takes a stand it may not be the one the left want.

    Perhaps that better explains Labour’s silence?

  24. George D 24

    If you’re not actively with the workers, you’re Tory Scum. There’s a class war being fought, but only one side is showing up with weapons.

  25. Jenny 25

    The following is a report carried on voxy news that shows that some Local body politicians on the left don’t, share the Labour Party’s views, about not taking a stand.

    In an unprecedented move, 28 Auckland Local Board members from 10 different Boards are uniting to call for Ports of Auckland to return to good faith bargaining and drop plans to outsource jobs at the port.

    “Ports of Auckland Ltd is a Council-owned company. We support its operational independence, but the current dispute has escalated to a strategic level. We are particularly concerned that actions being taken by Port management, including what appears to be a pre-determined strategy to contract out port jobs, are inflaming matters”, say the Board members.

    Internal POAL strategy documents released last week show that Ports management was considering a contracting out strategy well in advance of negotiations. http://www.munz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/poal_labour_strategy.pdf

    “Along with everyone else involved, we recognise the need for competitive levels of operational efficiency at the port. But Port management’s proposal to fire a skilled workforce and contract out their jobs to an external provider, with few work-life balance protections for employees and their families, is not the best way to achieve this.”

    “We believe that Ports of Auckland has a responsibility to be a good employer, and to live up to the principles that its 100% owner the Auckland Council promotes in the draft Auckland Plan and in numerous Local Board Plans. Driving Aucklanders’ employment conditions and job security down in a race to the bottom is no way to build the world’s most liveable city.”

    “We’re also concerned that the dispute is being used as a wedge by some councillors and interest groups to promote port privatisation. We support Mayor Len Brown’s unequivocal pro-public ownership platform, and believe the Port CEO would be well advised to publicly support it too.”

    “The details of any settlement are for the parties to negotiate, but it is quite clear to us that a way forward should be possible that improves productivity without privatisation and contracting out being threatened, neither of which are proven cures. We hope that Port management and the Maritime Union will take a constructive approach and negotiate a settlement in good faith on this basis”, conclude the Board members.

    Full list of Local Board Members issuing this statement:

    * Please note that each Board member issuing this statement does so in their own right only, and not on behalf of their Board.

    Helga Arlington, Albert-Eden

    Josephine Bartley, Maungakiekie-Tamaki

    Leila Boyle, Maungakiekie-Tamak (Chair)

    Jesse Chalmbers, Waitemata

    Shale Chambers, Waitemata (Chair)

    Pippa Coom, Waitemata

    Christopher Dempsey, Waitemata

    Graeme Easte, Albert-Eden

    Carrol Elliot, Mangere-Otahuhu

    Tunumafono Ava Fa’amoe, Otara-Papatoetoe

    Julie Fairey, Puketapapa

    Catherine Farmer, Whau

    Grant Gillon, Kaipataki

    John Gillon, Kaipataki

    Mary Gush, Otara-Papatoetoe

    Peter Haynes, Albert-Eden (Chair)

    Neil Henderson, Waitakere Ranges

    Richard Hills, Kaipataki

    Chris Makoare, Maungakiekie-Tamaki

    Greg Presland, Waitakere Ranges

    Simon Randall, Maungakiekie-Tamaki

    Tricia Reade, Waitemata

    Denise Roche, Waiheke

    Leau Peter Skelton, Mangere-Otahuhu (Chair)

    Lydia Sosene, Mangere-Otahuhu

    Alan Verrall, Maungakiekie-Tamaki

    Michael Wood, Puketapapa

    Denise Yates, Waitakere Ranges (Chair)

    Monday, 16 January, 2012 – 15:11

    I hope that if any of these courageous people, are Labour Party members, they will not face censure from their party for not toeing the party line on this dispute.

    To them I would say, if your party does try to pressure or discipline you for speaking up for the wharfies, stick to your principles, don’t be bullied.

    Stand your ground, speak your mind, refuse to be gagged by the party machine, and win the grass roots members of your party to your position.

  26. Jenny 26

    Though I may disagree with Eddies views. At least he is open and honest about them. Unlike the Labour Party official websites which have maintained a strict censorship on any mention of the Ports Of Auckland dispute.

  27. muzza 27

    Both Auckland Council and Auckland Council Investment Ltd (which owns Ports of Auckland Ltd 100%) are PUBLIC BENEFIT ENTITIES (PBEs) – not PROFIT-ORIENTED ENTITIES (POEs).

    “Public benefit entities are described as entities whose primary objective is to provide goods or services for a community or a social benefit and where any risk capital has been provided with a view to supporting that primary objective rather than for the financial return to equity shareholders. Most central government, local government, and not-for-profit entities are public benefit entities.”
    The following definition of a ‘PBE’ was provided to me by Mark Holman, Senior Advisor, Integrity, State Services Commission, in an email dated 20 September 2011:

    “Hi Penny

    In response to your phone call … this is really not an area that I’m familiar with at all, but I’ve been given the following definition from “New Zealand Equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (NZ IFRSs)” published in the 2011 volume:

    Public benefit entities are described as entities whose primary objective is to provide goods or services for a community or a social benefit and where any risk capital has been provided with a view to supporting that primary objective rather than for the financial return to equity shareholders. Most central government, local government, and not-for-profit entities are public benefit entities.

    As an example, public service departments are not expected to charge for their services any more than the cost of providing them.

    SOEs are somewhat different, in that they are required to behave in a more commercial manner while also meeting service delivery obligations.

    For further information on SOEs, however, you would need to contact the Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit at The Treasury, or look at the financial annexes in the individual annual reports of organisations like NZ Post.


    Mark H

    Mark Holman
    Senior Advisor, Integrity
    State Services Commission

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    Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister. A caucus vote to elect a new Party Leader will occur in 3 days’ time on Sunday the 22nd of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago