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POAL back to bargaining table

Written By: - Date published: 11:08 am, March 2nd, 2012 - 47 comments
Categories: capitalism, Unions, wages - Tags: ,

4 days into 4 weeks of strikes, Ports of Auckland is back at the bargaining table. From usually docking 4 ships a day, they’ve docked 2 in 4 – 88% reduction. POAL can’t provide service. Ships are going elsewhere in our over-capitalised port system and might not come back. The Council will be screaming blue murder at the loss of revenue and business disruption. How long till management folds?

47 comments on “POAL back to bargaining table”

  1. fender 1

    “How long till management folds?”

    Tony Gibson needs to be folded into a shoebox and despatched pronto.

    • Hami Shearlie 1.1

      Fender, you do the folding and I’ll do the “despatching”? I promise to wear my brand new jack-boots! LOL

  2. Gosman 2

    “The Council will be screaming blue murder at the loss of revenue and business disruption”

    Yeah because they have been really active in this dispute before now.

    • A fair bit has been happening recently. I am quietly confident that a resolution will happen soon AND the union will remain. If not things will get messy.

      • indiana 2.1.1

        Let a secret ballot be the judge of that…

        • Blighty

          their ballots are secret. All unions conduct secret ballots on decisions to strike or accept offers.

          • Yeah /Yeah

            Rubbish. The members have been calling for a secret ballot and it has been denied. Standing in a single room (pub) in silence putting your hand in the air does not constitute a secret ballot.

            • Frank Macskasy

              “Rubbish. The members have been calling for a secret ballot and it has been denied. Standing in a single room (pub) in silence putting your hand in the air does not constitute a secret ballot.”

              Really? Which Union meeting did you last attend?

            • mickysavage

              Oh Yeah?  Got credible proof? And Slater does not count.

              • Seti

                One News had footage of a MUNZ vote last week which was a show of hands

                • McFlock

                  Was that the strike vote, or just footage of “who wants a sandwich” responses cobbled together with the v/o because it was “action”?

              • Hami Shearlie

                Slater never counts!! LOL

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Stupid game of attrition. MUNZ is willing to agree to much more flexibility in terms of rosters and crewing, but POAL have got it into their stubborn pig headed corporate brains that smashing the union and casualising the workforce is the only result which counts.

    • burt 3.1

      4 days into 4 weeks of strikes, Ports of Auckland is back at the bargaining table. From usually docking 4 ships a day, they’ve docked 2 in 4

      4 weeks of strikes…. You say MUNZ is willing to agree to much more flexibility yet they have 4 weeks of strikes planned. OK, so there is a non negotiable bargaining point (which takes two stubborn parties to create) and you slate POAL as being stubborn and pig headed. Pot meet kettle!

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        OK, so there is a non negotiable bargaining point

        Not being smashed into non-existance is a perfectly valid non-negotiable bargaining point.

        You say MUNZ is willing to agree to much more flexibility yet they have 4 weeks of strikes planned.

        This must be the set/subset thing that felix always has you on about:

        To clarify: being willing to adopt new work practices does not preclude fighting for the right to survive and have employment stability.

        • burt

          It’s irrelevant how we frame it. All two way negotiation impasses require two parties to create. There are jobs to be gained and lost either way.

          This is not survival and to frame it so is inappropriate. Why I say that is; If we are fighting for the workers then combined POAL, The council and MUNZ are the problem – not the solution.

          The most vulnerable in terms of survival are the workers and they seem comfortable agreeing to 4 weeks of strike. It’s a stand off.. not even a fist fight…. nothing like survival.

          • Colonial Viper

            The destruction of the union and the destruction of permanent employment sounds like a fight to the death to me.

            • burt


              I though the union was acting on behalf of the workers?

              • RedLogix

                The Union IS the workers…

                • burt

                  So the workers are prepared to stand on principle and are therefore part of the standoff…. That’s their right. But they are one of the parties who’s stubborn pig headed brains won’t accept the other parties stubborn pig headed brains position.

              • Colonial Viper

                So you agree it is a fight to the death then.

                • burt

                  It could easily be, but it takes two parties to be stubborn and pig headed. That’s all I’m saying in this comment thread.

      • Georgecom 3.1.2

        Burt, if POA takes their stated intention of contracting out all the jobs off the table and gets back into serious bargaining I am sure you will see the threat of strike action shelved as well. Have a think about it.

        • burt

          I have thought about it Georgecom. If the union are unable to provide services and value for money to the workers in the environment they find themselves in then who’s interest is being served by destroying the port business ?

          • Georgecom

            Burt, have another think. Why 4 weeks of notified strike action you asked. Why the stated intention from the employer to contract out all jobs. If the latter is withdrawn then I think the former will be cut short. Some more bargaining about the substantive issues can then be done. MUNZ has made offer to POA that are substantial and address many of the companies wants.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    The Council will be screaming blue murder at the loss of revenue and business disruption.

    No they won’t. If they were going to do anything about the abuse that PoAL management have been heaping on the workers then they would have done so months ago.

  5. burt 5

    Silver linings ?

    One I see is that the port folds and the land is returned to the Council and…..

    Should we discount all parties (*1) have a lot to gain from this eventuality… who’s really telling the truth about the negotiations?

    *1) All parties being – Parties with a vested interest and influence in the resolution of this dispute.

    Unions – Undoubtedly change of use of this waterfront land would invite a boom in development of some ‘public utility’ kind. Employment in construction etc would be incredible union sub potential via domain dominance.

    Council – Gets to run really cool projects and get lots of lunches from Architects, Planners, Developers, Engineers, Advertising companies and Unions.

    POAL – If they can’t return a viable return under union dominance then they are better deployed doing other things. They are business people not lifers waiting for retirement so they will be involved in the action either way.

    Workers – No real say on an individual level. I pity the ones who just want to work and pay the bills who are caught up in the ideological battle. The whole concept of solidarity creates some perverse unintended consequences between workmates some times. It’s a bit like suddenly finding out your workmate is a Catholic when you’re a Protestant so therefore you can’t be friends anymore. I do genuinely wish the individuals good luck in standing their ground. It’s a brave man who risks his income on an ideological concept of employee bargaining.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      who are caught up in the ideological battle.

      Actually, an ideological war waged by POAL management and Board against their own workers.

      on an ideological concept of employee bargaining.

      You’re a fucktard right? Collective employee bargaining is as “ideological”as the collective dairy supply union (Fonterra).

      Acting in concert as a group, works.

      • burt 5.1.1

        Still an ideological battle. My point was some workers possibly just want to earn their wages and enjoy their lives – but solidarity has drawn them into an ideological battle. It’s their choice to risk up to 4 weeks continuous pay. They clearly feel strongly that the way it works now is how it must stay. Good on them.

        • felix

          “Still an ideological battle. “

          Yep, if you think “decent wages and working conditions” is an ideology.

          • burt

            The ideology felix is inherent in the dogmatic instance that the current way is the only way that they can cling to wages and working conditions. Sorry it is. I’m not judging it – I’m just pointing to it.

            • RedLogix

              So burt, surely your not suggesting that the right way to get better wages and conditions is to… accept poorer ones?

              But on reflection perhaps I can see perhaps some wisdom in this. After reducing their workers to a truly miserable pittance PoAL management will look at their own incomes in the order of many hundred’s of thousands, get overcome with remorse and guilt and then insist their worker accept massive pay rises to compensate.

              Am I on to it burt?

              • burt


                When it’s heading toward ‘better than now’ or ‘none’ – ideology is what maintains the fight. Reason dictates compromise, nothing stays the same for ever. So it’s ideology and/or deep pockets… and who knows what to believe about what POAL workers actually earn.

                • RedLogix


                  You really are forgetful. Some time back we showed quite clearly that PoAL was similarly efficient to PoT from a wages perspective.

                  All the rightwing idiots merely compared the Auckland wage bill with the Tauranga bill and left out the contracting costs at Tauranga. And then they declared Tauranga the winner!!!. That’s utter dishonesty; when if you compare the two ports on an apples for apples basis their total labour costs and efficiencies are very, very similar.

                  The big difference is that Auckland has been paying too much dividend to it’s owners and is carrying too much debt which makes it less profitable. Combine that with the Council now demanding a rapacious 12% return on asset, and a management encouraged by a blatantly anti-worker government clearly happy to see wages drop and unions destroyed, is using this window of opportunity to lash out at its workers. Very old grudges being settled here.

                  If you think that the best way for capitalists to make theirs profits is to drive wages down, then your version of capitalism burt is an amoral failure. This is pure ideological class warfare alright. Keep pushing though, you’ll get a reaction.

      • burt 5.1.2


        Acting in concert as a group, works.

        Can you rationalise you comment that Fonterra works (for consumers rather than for Fonterra and farmers) with the position that we pay a shit load for Dairy products in NZ.

        Are you saying that expensive freight costs via POAL are justification for keeping the union viable in the same way high Dairy prices maintain Fonterras and the farmers balance sheets ?

  6. (Haven’t yet heard back from the Office of the Auditor-General…….)

    “1 March 2012

    OPEN LETTER TO THE OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL: (RE: Requirement in Auckland Council Investments Ltd (ACIL) Statement of Intent for Ports of Auckland to have an increase in Return On Equity (ROE) from 6% – 12% as a Public Benefit Entity (PBE).

    1) Ports of Auckland Ltd is a 100% subsidiary of Auckland Council Investments Ltd (ACIL) – a Council Controlled Organisation.

    The governing document of ACIL is the Statement of Intent, agreed to between Auckland Council and ACIL.

    If both Auckland Council and ACIL are PUBLIC BENEFIT ENTITIES (PBEs) – not PROFIT-ORIENTED ENTITIES (POEs) – how can it be lawful for the ACIL Statement of Intent to require a Return On Equity (ROE) increase from 6 – 12%?

    2) If, at the time of drawing up the above-mentioned ACIL Statement of Intent, neither Auckland Council nor ACIL had it confirmed that ACIL was in fact a PUBLIC BENEFIT ENTITY (PBE) – how can how can it be lawful for the ACIL Statement of Intent to require a Return On Equity (ROE) increase from 6 – 12%?

    What can and will the Office of the Auditor-General do about this – which is a matter of considerable public interest?


    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    Attendee: Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference 2009
    Attendee: Transparency International Anti-Corruption Conference 2010”

    • burt 6.1


      In this case I hope your assertions are correct. If they are you deserve your title ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’.

      I feel the inaction of the Council in this matter points to a bigger picture. It makes sense that there are bigger games at play given the locale of the real estate involved.

      Be bold, if you have found a technical hitch in a hidden agenda then your road will be rough.

      Imagine Labour re-elected. Mallard gets to build his stadium where the port currently is. You can stop this Penny, you can keep the port if your assertions are correct.


    “29 February 2012

    OPEN LETTER/ Request for Public Input at CCO Strategy Review Sub-Cttee meeting
    to be held on Wednesday 7 March 2012
    at 1.30pm Auckland Town Hall

    Dear Judith,

    My subject matter will be how two Public Benefit Entities (PBEs), namely Auckland Council and Auckland Council Investment Ltd (ACIL) can have as an agreed requirement in the ACIL Statement of Intent, an increase in the Return On Equity (ROE) for Ports of Auckland Ltd (100% subsidiary of ACIL) from 6% to 12%, and related matters.

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright



    Thank you Penny

    You will be asked to speak for 5 minutes during our ‘Public Input’ section, which is Item 5 of the agenda.
    The agenda will be up on the website on Friday, 2 March.

    You will receive email advice when it is live on the website.
    Many thanks.

    Here also is the answer to your question regarding Statement of Intent AC & ACIL:

    “The legal process is that the council is required to agree to the SOIs of CCOs rather than sign them.
    ACIL’s SOI was agreed to by the CCO Strategy Review Subcommittee at its meeting of 26 July 2011. The SOI was subsequently updated by ACIL and agreed to by the Accountability and Performance Committee (the parent committee of CCO Strategy Review) at its meeting of 9 November 2011.


    Catherine Syme

    Principal Advisor, CCO Governance and Monitoring.”

  8. Jenny 8

    No change on fundamental issues; urgent action now required.

    Ports of Auckland Ltd, 2 March, 2012

    Ports of Auckland update

    These idiots still don’t get it.

    They intend to go ahead with their plan to contract the union off the wharves.

    What is the urgent action?

    A lockout?

    Legal action?

    Dismissal notices for all union members and full mobilisation of non-union contractors onto the ports?

    All three?

    Anything, is possible from these lunkheads except it seems, negotiation with the union in good faith.

    Why doesn’t the Mayor do or say something?

  9. Wharfie 9

    Let’s get it straight POA has no wish to negotiate.The focus is the same as AFFCO removal of union influence on the wharves and indentured serfs for employees at their beck and call.The Union has tried to table many flexibilities only to be told yes that will do it but no we want the lot.This is a pre-amble to privatisation of the Port,investment potential for overseas interests and Gibsons rich mates.I wonder how many shares $750k will buy.Len Brown has gone dog and is in denial there is a problem.Why didn’t he accept the resignation of the board if he didn’t already have a position.At least Shearer had the balls to turn up to the picket.$500 million in returns since 2006 and a one off special divedend of $127 million that’s some serious money.This local revenue will be lost with outsourcing the Port who is going to pick up the lost returns let alone the revenue that has already been lost.Auckland rate payers need to ask some serious questions inparticular by what mandate  was the board given to put aside $9 million dollars to hire two Union busters.Rod Lingard and John Mayson to wage a campaign against it’s employees.The unions position is to do what ever it takes to defend 320 workingfamilies rights to a secure future.

  10. Jenny 10

    A multi-party effort to settle the ports dispute?

    A good idea by Harawira to end the Ports dispute. Will he get buy in from any of the political parties for it?

    Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is approaching leaders of Labour, NZ First and the Greens.
    “Len’s the mayor so he has a big influence on decisions down at the ports,” Mr Harawira said on Thursday.
    “I’m proposing that the leaders of parties who have expressed support for the workers get together.”

    None of the political parties approached by Harawira, that had expressed support for the port workers, have as yet responded to his call.

  11. Jenny 11

    If Harawira’s multiparty delegation to the Mayor, does get buy in from the Greens, Labour and New Zealand First, it would be hard for Mayor Brown to ignore and blithely carry on doing nothing.

  12. Jenny 12

    Waterside dispute spreads to other cities.

    The industrial action at the Port of Auckland is spreading to other cities, as workers at Centreport Wellington are refusing to move containers on the Maersk Aberdeen because non-union staff worked the ship when it was docked in Auckland……

    …..“Make the vessel leave the Port of Wellington, send it back to Auckland, get it loaded by union labour and then it can go on its merry way,” says Maritime Union General Secretary, Joe Fleetwood.
    A protest was also staged early this morning outside the Port of Tauranga, where another ship, Irene’s Remedy, will dock when the weather clears.

  13. KJT 13

    Those who are concerned about cheap exploited labour on fishing boats should also look at ships like the Mearsk Aberdeen.
    The Mearsk Aberdeen has been carrying NZ coastal cargo up and down the coast for some time.
    The crew are not employed under NZ labour laws and/or NZ wages. Taking NZ jobs, undercutting wages  and making our balance of payments worse.
    ALSO LIKE The Rena, Mearsk Aberdeen, is under a flag of convenience. (FOC).
    The whole point of running a ship under a FOC is so the shipping company can save money by cutting corners. They save the money and we take the risks.

  14. Jenny 14

    Port of Wellington takes court action to force union members to unload a ship loaded by strike breakers.

    The action could have serious repercussions for the union, as the Centreport bosses are arguing that this is a breach of the collective agreement that they have with the union. Which is illegal under the ERA

    However; As the saying goes: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.

    The union could have a very strong argument in the precedent set by the Ports of Auckland management, who have been illegally forcing contracting out on the ports of Auckland workers, during the term of their last collective agreement.

    POAL are now demanding that their immoral and illegal behaviour should now be written into any new collective contract to legitimise it.

    If the courts finds against MUNZ for taking action during the term of a collective contract, then they must also find against POAL management for their actions during the term of a collective contract.

    Instead of indulging in expensive litigation with the public’s money, Centreport management should just tell Ports of Auckland not to send any ships loaded by strike breakers to Wellington.

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