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On incompetent management

Written By: - Date published: 9:03 am, April 1st, 2012 - 28 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, Unions - Tags: ,

Once upon a time, decades ago now, ports were run by a person called the Harbourmaster. He used to be a highly qualified and experienced Master Mariner, who had extensive knowledge of shipping and decades of experience, at sea and within the port. All this competence and experience came at a wage,  at most, five times the average wage.

Then, along came the cult of management, and the Neo-liberals. The idea that a jumped up accountant could run anything.

They can, into the ground.

“The corporations with the largest income gap between Directors/Managers  and employees have proven to be the least  functional.” Corporate income gaps.

The star managers paid in millions have proven to be much less effective than, lesser paid,  experienced promotions from within the organisation. Twenty year research into Management effectiveness study

“companies that exclusively promote CEOs from within outperform companies that recruit CEOs from outside the company.” Best to Promote from within.


We have a board and managers, on 20 to 50 times the average wage,  who have lost the port’s public owners 21 million dollars and counting, lost more customers in a few months than have been lost to Tauranga in years, cost the ports customers millions, and demoralised and lost the co-operation of their trained labour force, all to make savings that have been shown to be available anyway by talking to the Union.

(There was  a 25 to 30% increase in the box rate last year in the brief period when the Wharfies thought management were not going to continue the adversarial politicking of the past).

An honourable management and board would all be tendering their resignations after a debacle like this.

The amount of spin and outright lies about the workforce from POAL management shows they are incapable of working co-operatively with their labour force.

For example labour utilisation rates, costs of labour and pay rates are not out of line with similar jobs.

Still looking for the wharfie who gets 91k a year.  (A foremen doing double shifts all year maybe).

The relationship is broken. It is much easier and less costly to replace the managers with ones capable of working with people than retrain a whole ports labour.

It has become apparent that the whole exercise was an ideological attempt to break one of the last vestiges of Union power, most likely with the covert backing of the NACT Government. The  huge costs for the ports public owners and customers does not matter to an ideologically driven board put in place for that purpose by ACT hacks.


28 comments on “On incompetent management ”

  1. Kotahi Tane Huna 1

    The wealth destroyers.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Absolutely true. For hospitals, engineering and construction operations, government departments, city councils and high tech firms as well.

    The financialised managerial cult of the neoliberals is false, expensive and wasteful.

    “Must pay what the market demands to attract and retain top talent.” LOL Turns out that “top talent” is mostly incompetent assholes with control issues.

  3. Tc 3

    Can’t promote from within as they know how stuff operates so will clash with the sell off pay us heaps agenda of the neo liberals.
    Similar effect when marketing types get the jobs over engineering types just look at Gattungs legacy of deliberate confusion.

  4. Georgy 4

    And now it is going to happen to our education system. Watch the achievement levels of our children start slipping.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    I dont recall ‘Harbour Boards’ being run by a habourmaster. Unless it was a long forgotten river port like say Patea. More likey a shipping pilot could be a harbourmaster responsible for moorings and navigation but not the business of loading and unloading ships. I understand they acted more like a traffic policeman for harbours rather than a general manager

    • alwyn 5.1

      The Harbour Master was simply the senior pilot at the port.
      He had nothing to do with the business side of the port at all.
      The CEO at the port was normally called the Secretary of the Harbour Board and was typically an accountant or similar. Any connection with commanding a ship was limited to looking out the office window.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        I wouldn’t call the secretary a CEO. It’s quite a different role. The accountant running the books side of the port wasn’t foolish enough to think he could run the operational side of the port.

        Another critical difference, ports weren’t there to make increasing profits for shareholders, they were there to service vessels and to get cargo on and off ships efficiently.

        • alwyn

          I didn’t say that he WAS always the accountant. What I said was that was his background.
          I know of at least one very successful port, back in the days when the administration was that of a local body, where the full title of the secretary was “Sectary, Treasurer and Chief Executive Officer”.
          It was at the time about the fourth largest for cargo handled in New Zealand.
          Incidentally the ports did NOT directly employ the watersiders in most of New Zealand.

      • KJT 5.1.2


        The harbourmasters in NZ ports fulfilled the function of General and operations managers.

        Until the so called port reforms of the 80’s.

        Now. They are a council official whose tasks are simply navigation aids and safety.

        The accountant/administrator did what they were told, by people who knew what they were doing.
        Like school secretaries in days of old.

        Boards were elected officials and a national authority co-coordinated ports.

        • RedLogix


          It mirrors the situation at most workplaces these days. The people who know what they are doing, the operators, programmers, engineers, techies and the people who actually do the work, or keep customers happy are treated like so much disposable toilet paper.

          While the cult of management having grabbed the reins of power, has galloped off to another planet, over-paid and out-of-touch. For the most part if they simply left us workers to get on with the job we’d never miss them.

        • Jackal

          Yep! It seems that the current bunch of money grubbers are trying to relive the bad old days of trade liberalisation and deregulation of the 1980’s.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Name one port and the period ?

  6. Acting Up 6

    Not much will happen for a few months – then just watch. Various senior managers will slip away to “add value” elsewhere – probably to jobs that their mates have put aside for them. Some board members will also resign, to “lighten their busy load” and will pick up a sinecure or two somewhere else.

    It will happen slowly, and be reported one person at a time, if at all, deep in the business news section of the paper.

  7. Jenny 7

    The reason the likes of Gibson and Pearson are paid so much, is to buy their conscience.

    Their ideologically driven mission handed to them by Rodney Hide.
    1) Sack the workers,
    2) Eliminate job security,
    3) Devastate families,
    4) Destroy the union.

    Such vandalism doesn’t come cheap.

    (The remaining unspoken fifth task, devalue the asset to ready the ports for privatisation)

    • Tc 7.1

      Not so much buy out their conscience but ensure it buys into the agenda, ethical well thought of execs normally don’t accept jobs of this nature…..they are are dying almost dead breed btw.

    • seeker 7.2

      I think you are correct here Jenny@11.37am. What a nasty world we live in.

      One could always see by Tony Gibson’s very dead ,black eyes that his conscience (and possibly his human spirit) had departed him long ago. However after last week’s judgements, I was heartened to see that he faced the media (rather than the sad, definitely unconscionable, human mutant, Richard Pearson) and appeared unusually ruffled and thinking a little more, rather than the deadeyed automaton that we are used to. What is more, his eyes had changed slightly -with signs of human life flickering through. This was so startling that I almost applauded!
      Have the courts forced a reignition of human life and conscience in this shell of a human? Could this be the beginning of a possible revival, from the dead and decaying monetary infected dimension the corporates and nactoids/neoliberals inhabit . An alien dimension, whose disgusting disease has been imposed on our human world for the last 30 odd years. Out damn spot. Please, please let there be light at long last.

      So glad the union show the strength and courage to stand up to these horrible people.

  8. By the way, the income disparity paper linked to on the topic of CEOs being paid too much to be effective goes further than that- it says the problem gets worse the more reliant the firm is on high-technology, so a high-finance CEO running a group of programmers is apparently even worse than one running, say, a meat packing plant.

  9. randal 9

    I see Stephen Franks advertising a JOB on Trade me where you have to pay to live on his property and then have to seek work elsewhere.
    how about that?

  10. Malcolm 10

    We still have Harbourmasters in NZ! I think you are a bit confused.


  11. Malcolm 11

    Comment was made before KJT’s clarification. I can see how it doesn’t make sense in the order it now comes in.

  12. John72 12

    On TV One, last night, 2 very interesting and relevant comments were made.
    1. For the average Kiwi there is not much difference between $2.6 million and $26 million.
    2. If a person is not happy before winning Lotto, it is unlikely that they will be happy 5 years after winning it.
    Surely this is what is happening with the P of A dispute. Regardless of how much they get, some people will always want more because they are not happy now and money will not buy happiness. This has been spelt out repeatedly but it seems to be something that is not understood until experienced.
    “I earn what I eat, I buy what I wear, I owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness, glad of other men’s good, accept my harm.” (Q. Shakespear)

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