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Ports of Auckland vs 400,000 wharfies

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, January 21st, 2012 - 116 comments
Categories: Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Unionism is all about the realisation that an individual worker is always replaceable and, so, at the mercy of the bosses but, united, workers can exercise market power to get a fair deal. This has always been most evident in dangerous, physical industries – where you depend on the person beside you for your life.

The wharfs are one of the homes of unionism for this reason. And wharfie unions, due to the nature of their work, have always been particularly internationalist, seeing an natural alliance with their counterparts in other countries, and because every shipment has to go from somewhere to somewhere else, wharfies have the ability to make things difficult for other ports to support their comrades across the sea. Indeed, New Zealand’s first general strike (1890) was over the right of wharfies to form unions in Australia.

So, the Ports of Auckland management should have known they were biting off more than they could chew when they decided to sack 330 workers for the crime of not wanting to take a $20,000 a year pay cut.

The 5 million strong International Transport Workers’ Federation, which has 400,000 dock worker members in over 200 major ports, has warned POA that it is on the verge of declaring it a ‘port of convenience’. This is akin to the flag of convenience concept – POA would be seen as a renegade attempting to undermine the standards that protect wharfies worldwide. In response, wharfies in other ports would take a range of legal actions to frustrate POA and cost it money – cargo bound for and coming from POA would take longer to clear other ports because it would be given a low priority and wharfies would work to rule when handling it.

In an industry where cargo handling times are the main concern of port customers (port charges in New Zealand are already very low, it’s time that matters more and POA’s proposals do nothing to speed up cargo handling time), what customer is going to send their cargo through POA knowing that doing so will cause it to be delayed whenever it enters another port?

The last time a New Zealand port was declared a port of convenience (Napier in 2007) the port management got smart quick and dropped their attack on the wharfies’ conditions.

Tony Gibson with his $750,000 salary and his senior managers on half a million each may have thought they had it easy beating up on some $27 an hour workers so that they could increase profits by cutting wages but they failed to calculate that those 330 workers are backed by 400,000 brothers and sisters around the world.

116 comments on “Ports of Auckland vs 400,000 wharfies”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    This situation is outrageous quite frankly. But what is worse than these workers being attacked is the Auckland Mayors inactions many of us voted for him many went to his initial meetings to get the campaign off the ground all his talk about building communities, what an absolute joke. Then we have our new Labour Leader David Shearer not a peep from him on this subject.If Labour wont support these workers publicly how the hell is Labour going to quote unquote reconnect with its constituents. Now I know Darien Fenton has been down on the picket lines( good on ya, wouldnt have expected less though) but just where is the so called leader Mr David Shearer.

    • Jenny 1.1

      If Labour refuse to pick up the baton it falls to others to do so.

      Reports are that more and union officials are joining the Greens rather than as in the past the Labour Party.

      The Greens have an opportunity to make some major gains here.

      If the Greens ignore the Labour Party’s call to turn their back on the wharfies. And instead pledge their support for the wharfies in their struggle. The Greens will undoubtably reap the support of this important sector of the New Zealand working class.

      • The Voice of Reason 1.1.1

        Can you link to these reports, Jenny? Thanks.

        • Jenny

          No machine links VOR, but if you have any human links with the Trade Union Movement just ask around the office.

          • The Voice of Reason

            Ok, then, howabout a link to Labour’s call to turn their backs on the wharfies? Coz, I’d hate to think you’re just making shit up.
            My local union office has a couple of Greens, one in Mana and a long time Alliance member. The rest are in Labour, if they are members of any party. All of the officials, whatever party they were in, worked hard to get our Labour MP re-elected. Successfully, as it happens.

            • Jenny

              EDDIE 8:38 am, January 16th, 2012:1951, it ain’t for now

              • The Voice of Reason

                Eddie is not the Labour Party, Jenny. Any actual evidence, please?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Evidence in the action mate. Or inaction, as the case may be.

                  I’d like to see a really simply thing. It is something that could be done in a few minutes. That Labour issues a public call to its full membership to support MUNZ, asking that members join the picket lines, provide financial donations and contribute other resources.

                  • The Voice of Reason

                    So no evidence then? Thanks for clearing that up, CV. When MUNZ start asking for public support from Labour, then it will be a different matter. Till then, it’s just sectarian wishful thinking and wilful lies.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Action speak louder than words mate, yours or mine. We can see the inaction. Where’s the action.

                      By the way, MUNZ won’t ask publicly for support from Labour until they are want it AND they are sure that they will get it. You know that as well as I do.

                      Of course, talks will be going on behind closed doors. Let’s see if those talks spawn action – or inaction.

                    • Jenny

                      According to you VOR, who’s lying?




                      Can you point out any of your alleged lies for our readers?

                      If you can’t, then I ask that you refrain from making unsubstantiated allegations.

                      It is just character assassination and does you no credit.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      I’ve asked you for evidence that these two statements are true.
                      “Reports are that more and union officials are joining the Greens rather than as in the past the Labour Party.”
                      “If the Greens ignore the Labour Party’s call to turn their back on the wharfies. And instead pledge their support for the wharfies in their struggle.”
                      You haven’t supplied any evidence to support their veracity, so yep, I’m calling bullshit on them. And that’s just today’s examples. A fair few of your comments have wildly exaggerated and fanciful claims, which are often mildly amusing. But I find using the plight of these workers to further your cheap shots at Labour pretty poor stuff.
                      And, regarding your last suggestion, if you are prepared to stop making unsubstantiated allegations, then I promise not to start.

                    • Jenny

                      I’ve asked you for evidence that these two statements are true.

                      “Reports are that more and union officials are joining the Greens rather than as in the past the Labour Party.”
                      “If the Greens ignore the Labour Party’s call to turn their back on the wharfies. And instead pledge their support for the wharfies in their struggle.”

                      Voice of Reason

                      As I told you, my reports are from union officials themselves, which you confirmed with your report of your local union office in which you detailed 2 Greens, 1 Mana, and I Alliance member.

                      Notably you left out the actual number of officials still remaining in the Labour Party.

                      From your previous disputation of my claim, that more union officials are joining the Greens, I presumed that you meant that Labour members were still in the majority. Which is actually what I would expect.

                      What are you claiming is untrue?

                      That more union officials are joining the Greens?

                      That is indisputable.

                      Your other point of difference, even though badly truncated from the original paragraph so as to make little sense, has more merit.

                      If the Greens ignore the Labour Party’s call to turn their back on the wharfies. And instead pledge their support for the wharfies in their struggle.


                      The statement that the Greens (and Occupy Aotearoa) should turn their back on the wharfies came from Eddie, and as you say, not from the Labour Party.

                      However, as no ranking member of the Labour Party either on this site or anywhere else, has disputed Eddie’s call for the Greens and Occupy Aotearoa to distance themselves from the wharfies I think it is a fair call to make for me to aske the Greens and Occuppy Aotearoa to ignore Labour Party calls to turn their back on the wharfies.

                      When it comes to distancing themselves from Eddie’s call to not support the wharfies the Labour Party’s silence is telling.

                      Eddie has the honesty to say in public what the Labour Party is most likely saying behind closed doors.

                      Since no one in Labour has contradictd Eddie’s appeal to the Greens and Occupy. It is entirely logical to suppose that the Labour Party like their unofficial spokesperson Eddie, want the Greens and Occupy Aotearoa to turn their backs on the Wharfies.

                      If you are the only movement on the left standing on the sidelines you would definitely want company, to spread the ignominy around.

                      As CV pointed out, just as Action Speaks Louder Than Words, Inaction Speaks Louder Than Words.

                      And in this case, Silence also Speaks Louder Than Words.

                      I take it that you are a Labour Party supporter and a union official, both. Will you be calling on your members to support the wharfies, or not?

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      So, you remain unable to corroborate your claims? Goodo. And you still claim that Labour has called for people to turn their backs on the wharfies, despite not a scrap of evidence to support that position? That’s pretty credibility sapping.
                      And, by the way, speculation about my identity does you no credit and if its meant to intimidate, you can fuck right off. You should put up or shut up. And either way, you really should stop using the wharfies to further your anti-LP agenda.

                  • Jenny

                    I’d like to see a really simply thing. It is something that could be done in a few minutes. That Labour issues a public call to its full membership to support MUNZ, asking that members join the picket lines, provide financial donations and contribute other resources.

                    Colonial Viper

                    HERE, HERE!!

                    • Blue

                      @Jenny – “That Labour issues a public call to its full membership to support MUNZ”. Did it ever occur to you and other contributors that this “support” from the wider public (including Labour Party members) for the actions of the Union doesn’t exist, much like the support for “Occupy”? If it did exist wouldn’t the Labour Party leadership be into it boots and all. Do you think Labour Party members should back the Union regardless of whether they agree, because it seems that barring individual members, the Party doesn’t back the Unions stance or actions that I’ve seen or read.

                • Jenny

                  VOR I know Lynn hates us to speculate on the identity of Standard Posters. But obviously, Eddie is quiet high up in the Labour Party and knows what he is talking about and has accurately described Labour’s position as he sees it.

                  Until Eddy broke the silence with his post, official Labour Party pressers and websites have maintained a strict radio silence on this issue.

                  But in breaking this silence with his post, and in the absence of any denial by Labour Party MPs. Eddy has clearly laid out the Labour Party’s argument for not supporting the wharfies. Further than this Eddie calls for the Greens and the Occupy movement to also turn their backs on the wharfies.

                  VOR I congratulate if you are distancing yourself from Eddie’s statement.

                  You are one of the few in the Labour Party to publicly go against Labour’s policy of non-involvement so far.

                  Good on you.

                  May many more join you to overturn your party’s cowardly expression of neutrality.

                  • Lanthanide

                    I don’t think Eddie is “quite high up in the Labour Party” as you have suggested.

                    What is The Standard’s policy when an author starts publicly speculating on the identity of another author?

                    • Jenny

                      “I don’t think Eddie is “quite high up in the Labour Party” as you have suggested.”

                      I hope you are right.

                      Even if you are. In the absence of any official Labour Party denial. I stand by my statement that Eddie’s post is an accurate summation of the Labour Party’s position.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Sure, given their actions to date, I’d agree with you.

                      But you didn’t need to speculate that Eddie is “quite high up in the Labour Party” to make that argument.

                  • bbfloyd

                    i shouldn’t need to explain how operating on the basis of an assumption can destroy any kind of credible viewpoint….. so attributing senior labour party membership based solely on an assumption, long after the assumption has been called into question can fairly be described as adopting an intransigent position out of bloody mindedness..

                    while this approach may serve a personal agenda well enough, it leaves those who would prefer to follow a reasoned, and relevant discussion wishing that a more mature attitude could reassert itself so that what is likely to become an international issue can be discussed in a manner that allows the real issues to surface…..so would you please shut up about the bloody labour party and talk about the ISSUES!!!

                    if you really don’t understand why i make this call, then i suggest reading irishbill’s post on how the tories have been able to keep labours internal machinations in front of us constantly…..

      • tc 1.1.2

        This has presented a great opportunity for both shearer and brown to show leadership and a reason to vote for them……epic fail. They’ll always have the MSM on the blue side so what have they got to lose.

        If brown can’t stand up to the likes of fetcher and mini banksie brewer he doesn’t deserve another term, as for shearer who knows who cares as labours got serious issues of their own making.

      • Jum 1.1.3


        ‘The Greens will undoubtably reap the support of this important sector of the New Zealand working class.’

        You’re beginning to sound like a JKeyll and Hide spinner with that statement. ‘this important sector of the NZ working class’ – ooooooooooooohh. Who Do you think you Are? Wash your mouth out, lady.

        Do you sense some advantage over Labour – trust me, it will be a hollow advantage as you tear yourselves apart for a few more measly votes and NActMU stand on the sidelines laughing at us all.

  2. Shona 2

    Valid questionCGE. Labour long ago abandoned the NZ worker to support the managerial classes.It wouldn’t be prudent politics to take a position that Nact would ramp up in the MSM and use as yet another stick to denigrate and beat Labour with. Labour has no spine, no direction and Shearer is not the leader they need. All you will ever get from him is waffle warm fuzzies and a total lack of substance while he massages the MSM on a shoestring budget.

  3. Jenny 3

    ….the Ports of Auckland management should have known they were biting off more than they could chew when they decided to sack 330 workers…..


    The Ports of Auckland Limited have been aware of this possibiltiy for some time and considered and balanced this eventuality. And deemed it surmountable.

    As in this struggle, in 1998 Patricks the company that controlled several Australian wharfs tried to contract out all the union jobs.

    It is great news James that the ITF has pledged their support to MUNZ. The ITF played an important auxiliary role in the 1998 Patricks struggle. New Zealand wharfies as part of the ITF also played a support role. Some even going to Aussie to join the picket lines.

    The ITF give their support not in isolation but in supporting an effective fighting movement on the ground here in New Zealand.

    The inescapable fact is, that like the Patricks dispute, the struggle will be won or lost here.

    It is fantastic that the justice of the wharfies struggle has been recognised by the International workers movement. To guarantee the wharfies victory, the New Zealand left and trade union movement and the left as a whole need to follow the ITF’s example and pledges their support to the wharfies.

    • Jenny 3.1

      The biggest left movement in New Zealand is the New Zealand Labour Party. The support for this struggle from this country’s biggest left opposition party would make the wharfies unbeatable.

      Without this support, less so.

      And if the wharfies do go down to defeat, this treachery will not be easily forgotten by the whole of the trade union movement.

      • IrishBill 3.1.1

        Sorry Jenny but the trade union moment is a much bigger left movement than the labour party. While Labour should certainly be pledging their support fort POAL workers I doubt it would offer any material benefit to the workers campaign. When National decide to legislate workers rights away off the back of it I’d expect them to step up.

        • Jenny

          Yes Irish, but as Voice of Reason points out, Labour Party members are still over represented amongst union officials, not only this, but many unions are officially affiliated to the Labour Party, (including MUNZ itself).

          Eddie publicly outlined Labour’s reasons for not supporting the wharfies, he also called for the Greens and Occupy Movement to isolate the wharfies. Notably Eddie didn’t appeal to the trade union movement to shit on the wharfies. This is because he didn’t need too. This is because Labour has deep links into the leadership of most trade unions in this country and can call on them directly not give any support to the wharfies.

          Apart from Eddie’s singular public statement, you can guarantee that Labour’s policy towards the wharfies is being implemented in secret behind closed doors.

          In 1998 when Patricks laid off all the unionised Aussie wharfies and replaced them with contractors, the involvement of the wider left was crucial, with thousands of supporters coming from other unions.

          If this doesn’t happen here, you won’t have to look far for the reason.

          • The Voice of Reason

            “… but as Voice of Reason points out, Labour Party members are still over represented amongst union officials …”
            I said no such thing, Jenny.

            • Jenny

              You said that in your union office, two officials were Greens one Mana and one Alliance, the rest Labour, or no affiliation. From this I took it that you were saying the biggest number were in the Labour Party.

              I am sorry if I misread you VOR. I apologise.

              Maybe you would like to take this opportunity to clarify yourself.

              • The Voice of Reason

                You’ve got the summary right, now, Jenny. The point is that that Labour party membership is entirely in proportion with what you’d expect in a union office. High, but not dominant. And, further, no matter what party the various officials were in they worked together to help re-elect a good local MP. Its that unity I respect, not the minor differences in political shading.
                So, for the time being, I will take MUNZ’s position, not yours. If MUNZ want Labour and the Greens to declare their hands, then I will support my party getting on board. But I don’t think that will happen, because it is not in the immediate interests of MUNZ members for that to happen as its an industrial dispute at this point, not a political one. Yet.

                • muzza

                  “Not a political one, yet” – How did you come up with that ?

                  Of course its political, the industrial side of it is only the public symptom!

                  • felix

                    True muzza.

                  • The Voice of Reason

                    Er, because that’s the fact of the matter, Muzza. It’s an industrial dispute, not a political one. I’m not denying the politics of the situation, but it has not yet entered the domain of mass public protests in the way mining, nukes, child abuse etc have.
                    If there was a direct call to privatise the port to settle the dispute from those with the power to make it happen (council, parliament, POA board) I imagine that would tip the blue into something the wider public would take a political interest in. But, til then, MUNZ call the shots.

                    • Interesting discussion.

                      What about the attempt to deunionise the site TVOR.  Do you think Fenton and Twyford should have come out against that? 

                    • muzza

                      Are you a politician, a civil servant or a unionist by chance?

                      This “industrial dispute” is being run for ideological reasons, of which the privatisation ideology is driven in the political sense by the current sitting national party, asset/resource stealing representing banking and corporate theives!

                    • just saying

                      but it has not yet entered the domain of mass public protests in the way mining, nukes, child abuse etc have.

                      You mean it hasn’t been endorsed as “political” by the focus groups and the talk back radio set?

                      Do you have any idea how pathetic that sounds? Do you think Labour should only ever respond to public dialogues? Do you not think they might have a responsibility to provide leadership in the public discourse, according to the principles that are supposed to be their reason for existing in the first place?

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      Dunno what Twyford has had to say on the matter, Micky, not even sure why he should be saying anything (is he a spokesman on something related?).
                      Darien Fenton has been pretty outspoken on the dispute and her comments on the fb support page are always well received by the union members. I’m not going to bother looking at her every comment to try and find a specific example that meets your criteria, but I have no doubt at all that she is opposed to de-unionisation at the port or anywhere else for that matter.
                      Muzza, read my comments again. I don’t disagree with you about the idealogical basis of class struggles, but I think you are failing to understand that there is a difference between an industrial dispute and a political one. At this point this remains an industrial dispute, not a political one.
                      It may become political, particularly if the Government steps in to ‘solve’ the dispute by privatisation, but till then, I have total faith in MUNZ’s ability to run the dispute on their own terms.
                      And what is it with speculation about my identity? That’s two attempts to out me in 12 hours. Weird.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      but I think you are failing to understand that there is a difference between an industrial dispute and a political one.

                      So in your opinion, “an injury to one” is not an an injury to all.

                      This is of course a core union and workers rights value.

                      I see the context to your comments now.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      CV, you clearly know fuck all about union principles, so try and limit yourself to your own opinions and don’t claim to speak for me on those matters. Ta.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      So you confirm that an injury to one in the workers movement is not an injury to all in the workers movement?

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      Mate, the only thing confirmed here is that you are no unionist. But then, you do claim to bludge off the earnings of your wife, so perhaps you could be eligible to join Pimps Local 101?

                • just saying


                  Funny, I was just about to post this link of an excellent blog from ‘Political Scinetist’, and I read this comment VOR.

                  The sphere of what is considered “political” seems to shrink by the day, while the right continues to both call the tune and write the lyrics of what passes for political discourse in NZ. And Labour parliamentarians sing desperately along.

                  I’m not trying to provoke or inflame when I say that I think the party will not recover from the slo-mo death sprial I believe we are witnessing, to being a dominant anything in NZ politics of the future.

                  • muzza

                    It goes back to what I have said in these boards many time – Politics has merged, and people still debate that there is any real difference;

                    While Rome Burns, comes to mind?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      National and the Right Wing has positioned itself and its agenda as the ‘non political’ way to run the country (just as John Key has positioned itself as the non-political politician).

                      It completely and artificially limits what can be legitimately discussed by politicians.

                      The Left fell for it.

                      If Labour raise a peep now they will be accused by Key of “politicising a work place dispute”, and “playing politics”.

                      When that happens, you’re basically fucked in the eyes of “middle NZ” because you didn’t fight effectively against this narrative before it became established.

                    • just saying

                      Replying to CV below, who doesn’t have a ‘reply’ button at the moment

                      If Labour raise a peep now they will be accused by Key of “politicising a work place dispute”, and “playing politics”.

                      Is this really so terrible? Is Labour never going to present any alternative dialogue because Key will accuse them, a political party, of being political on behalf of their suppposed consitiuency?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Yeah, basically I’m saying that everything in society is politically relevant.

                      If Labour does not counter the Right wing meme that “industrial disputes have nothing to do with politics” what is there left to do.

  4. The nature of the global crisis means that this is class war.
    It can’t be won according to the bosses’ law.
    Labour will stick to the law the Liberals first drafted in 1894.
    Harry Holland (remember him) called it “Labour’s Leg iron”.
    If POA sack the wharfies and offer them contracts what will the Labour Party do?
    What it has always done with the wharfies.
    Neither for nor against. Let the courts decide.
    So lets not have any illusions in Labour because it weakens our struggle.
    This struggle will only be won when workers unite and break the bosses’ law.
    US or Aussie dockers that refuse to handle cargo from POA will be breaking the law.
    Are we going to let them take the rap?

  5. james 111 5

    I cant help but think this whole situation came about through the inadequacy of the Union to negotiate properly.
    Watching Parsloe on TV the other night he said that he was surprised that the stand off had turned into the current situation. He said one minute we are talking about unloading trucks etc now we are at this stage.
    I am betting Parsloe went in there with a totally confrontational attitude similar to the 1950s. Then he ended up with a much bigger fire on his hands than he was capable of controlling.

    If you take a confrontational attitude into any of those sort of talks you have to be prepared for anything. I dont believe Parsloe has read this dispute well at all he should never be surprised in his situation ,and position 330 mens jobs depend on it.

    As for POA taking on 440,000 I dont think so lets see where POA is in 5 years time. I bet it will be operating much more effectively with a totally different culture in place.

    The rate payers of Auckland will be getting better than 2.3% return on funds invested

    • The Voice of Reason 5.1

      I cant help but think this whole situation came about through the inadequacy of the Union to surrender properly.
      Fixed it for you James.

    • marsman 5.2

      You are betting Parsloe went in with a totally confrontational attitude? And you base your whole silly argument on that? Wake up!

      • james 111 5.2.1

        Well did he go in bearing gifts. How did it escalate from one thing to another. When you put the previous contract on the Table that ran out August 2011. He knew the POA were never going to accept it your stiring the pot a bit. When you stir the pot the shit floats to the surface it sure has in this situation.

        • Colonial Viper

          How did it escalate from one thing to another.

          Port strategy document intended escalation from the start.

    • “I cant help but think this whole situation came about through the inadequacy of the Union to negotiate properly.”

      You were at the negotiations, James?

      “The rate payers of Auckland will be getting better than 2.3% return on funds invested”

      Now why does that statement bother me…?

      Perhaps because taxpayers (and Auckland ratepayers) will end up paying more in social services for the families of those workers who no longer earn enough to feed their families and pay the mortgage?

      Because yet again, wages will be driven downward?

      Perhaps because if we pay workers peanuts, you get — ?

      And because this is a self-defeating spiral downward, in every respect, and 3%, 4% , or 6% return will have come at the expense of ibdividuals?

      Whose next? You, James? Hmmm, I’m sure we could improve “productivity” and increase returns to your employer, by cutting your wages and making you a casual?

      No wonder NZ lags behind Australia in salaries. Some New Zealanders seem to take an almost perverse pleasure in seeing “how low, can we go”.

      Meanwhile, today, another 100 New Zealanders left for Australia.

    • mik e 5.4

      J turd and you’ll be paying for the unemployment benefit as well as the social dislocation the families go through in your central govt taxes .
      The 2.3% return is low because of the Gfc.
      And now because of the bullying by overpaid management their will be less of a return than 2.3%.

      • higherstandard 5.4.1

        Nah, if they go down the tendering out route most of the current MUNZ members will be picked up by whoever wins the tender.

        I’m wondering if MUNZ have run the figures yet to see whether the members will be better or worse off just telling the POAL to get fucked and then take redundancy and then be back at work in a couple of weeks time with a new employer.

        • Colonial Viper

          Well remember that the contracting company will have to take a cut for its shareholders.

          An extra middle man in a game where PoA says it will cut overall operational expense.

          That seems to indicate there will be less in the pot left for workers. Certainly PoA aren’t taking on all this hassle to give workers improved pay and conditions.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.5

      I can’t help but think that you have NFI WTF you’re talking about. All you ever seem to do is propagate spin lines, consult your navel and talk shit.

  6. NickS 6


    Who knows, this may finally force Auckland City Council to act and hold a shareholders meeting to get a vote of non-confidence in the current board, because this threatens POA’s profits very significantly.

    As for Shearer’s lack of action, methinks Pagani and co are to blame once again, and other Labour MP’s need to join Fenton in supporting the wharfies, instead of listening to the leadership.

  7. randal 7

    this whole thing is about privatising the stevedoring.
    gibson and co dont give a stuff about the ownership of the land or the facilities because to maintain the port requires investment far beyond their capacity but the ownership of who does the work is where the profits lie and they want them.
    they are just carving off the bit where all the ready money is.
    Len Brown speak Up or you will be gone at the next election.
    we have have seen you doing the watusi and singing up large on the TEEVEE and now its time you did something.

    • higherstandard 7.1

      A mayor doing something ?

      What a novel idea.

      • Jum 7.1.1


        We should be grateful that the mayor is Len Brown.

        John Banks would have been out looking for Massey’s Cossacks’ grandkids to charge in on motorbikes and knock the workers over – men and women back then were charged at by men on horses, knocked down, injured – shameful part of history by a nasty rightwing government.

        One of the injured women mentioned that all the men on horseback were young and ‘well-fed’ farmers.

        New Zealand doesn’t seem to have improved much with the attacks (more covert of course now but equally nasty attacks by queenstreet farmers) on workers’ right to security of tenure.

        • higherstandard


          John Banks would have done the same as Len Brown 2/10ths of fuck all.

          Auckland mayors (and other regional mayors) have a long history of doing fuck all while pontificating, increasing the rates and employing turds, spin doctors, consultants and ever increasing bureaucracy to tell them what to think and say all the wile delivering the same or less than their predecessor.

          The last mayor I had any respect for was Dove Meyer Robinson.

          • Jum


            I will have trouble in future even pretending to address you by your pen name if you come up with idiotic statements like Banks is as good as Brown.

            So, will you realise I’m addressing you when I start saying ‘lower’standard? Because it will be you I am addressing.

            Having said that; hell hath no fury like a follower scorned.

            • higherstandard

              Jum I don’t give a damn what you call me.

              And while I never stated that Banks is as good as Brown it would be fair to say that they are as useless as each other.

              • Jum


                It does my heart good to see a bit of passion in a post. You may need it sooner than you think.

              • felix


                Without wanting to take anything away from Brown’s uselessness, in Brown’s position Banks would be actively working against the interests of workers.

                This might not mean much to someone like yourself who, as you say, isn’t really that interested in politics, but from a left-wing perspective it’s a pretty frickin important distinction.

              • In some resprects, HS has raised a valid point…

                “Useless”? I think it fair to say that a number of those on the Left are indeed exasperated with Brown…

                If he’s not going to support the workers, or at least act as a mediator, then the obvious question arises; why vote for either Brown or Banks?

                If Brown is trying to behave in some “impartial” manner – then it seems to me that the left-wing is always expected to act “correctly” – whilst Banks as mayor would’ve come out swinging; guns blazing; warheads flying; in favour of PoAL.

                Maybe it’s time to drop the “correctness” and get stuck in.

                Which reminds me of Eddy’s piece a week or two ago, where he suggests an explanation as to why Labour has been silent on this issue… http://thestandard.org.nz/1951-it-aint-for-now/

  8. tsmithfield 8

    In response, wharfies in other ports would take a range of legal actions to frustrate POA and cost it money – cargo bound for and coming from POA would take longer to clear other ports because it would be given a low priority and wharfies would work to rule when handling it.

    Such action would give even more reason for the customer base to desert Auckland thus threatening the jobs of port workers in Auckland, anyway. Also, the resulting drop in profits would give even more ammunition to POA to justify contracting out the work.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Actually it adds to the rationale for a workers council to run the Ports because $300/hr executive management and Board are doing the opposite of their supposed jobs. They are supposed to add financial and operational value to the Port for Aucklanders; instead they are rapidly destroying it and losing major clients under their watch.

  9. johnm 9

    Incredible that workers being victimised by a neoliberal privatisation gang get no open support in this country and have to be supported by International workers. Poor New Zealand!
    Where is:
    1. Labour’s corporate do gooder opportunist David Shearer?
    2. Mayor of Auckland?
    3. Open support from the Greens ?
    4. Anyone?

    This is crazy workers already abused by wait at the phone type work to be further ripped off by destroying their union. NZ is heading back to feudalism led by King Shonkey.

  10. Nick K 10

    You criticise the $750k salary of Gibson when some wharfies have more than that figure in their overly generous superannuation packet. They want redundancy, so they can bank the $800k and then come back as a contractor. Easy money. That’s why Brown et al won’t say anything, because they know it’s in most of these workers interests to be made redundant and collect six months redundancy (along with built-up overtime), and pocket their extremely generous super. They can pay off the mortgage; put some in the bank; and enjoy the summer and then pick up some contract work. The ones you see protesting are the silly ones. The smart ones are saying nothing and staying away.

    • The Voice of Reason 10.1

      Jeez, the bullshit is flowing from both left and right this morning. Where did you get the super line from, Nick? Is it something Whale made up overnight?

    • IrishBill 10.2

      That’s the stupidest conspiracy theory I’ve read for a while. I’d suggest you lay off reading desperate rightwing smear blogs until you regain your sense of reality.

    • Colonial Viper 10.3

      Nick K you seem to be saying that PoA is firing all its workers because being jobless will be the best thing ever to happen to those workers’ lives, and they will come out the other end practically millionaires.

      Dude, seriously? That’s your best pitch?

    • They want redundancy, so they can bank the $800k and then come back as a contractor. Easy money.

      If this were true it would be an even more pressing reason to sack the board and CEO immediately for incompetence, given their intention of bringing that situation about.

    • McFlock 10.5

      Gibson will get the same amount next year for being one of nature’s fuckwits.
      The port workers – those who remain – will get much much less.
      $800k – if they have that much – is the result of regular saving over a lifetime of work.
      Or it’s gibson’s pay for a single year of union port busting.

      • mik e 10.5.1

        Gibson should take a third of his pay cut.If he is only looking after 1/3 less workers he will have less responsibility funny that it never works out like that.

        • Colonial Viper

          We have a neat little economic system of incentives now. The more workers you fire, the more jobs you take away, the more insecure you make ordinary people, the bigger your bonus will be.

          Do you think this system will make NZ a better place?

    • Jenny 10.6

      Most of the current workforce have been there less than five years and have accrued very little redundancy. At least not enough to give up a good job for.

      As to whether they will be rehired. Not if they have been a safety or union delegate or if their face doesn’t fit.

      • Colonial Viper 10.6.1

        Usual right wing tactic, take a convenient but extreme case and present it as the norm.

  11. deemac 11

    a demand for the Labour Party to do something will carry weight when it comes from MUNZ. Till then, maybe some folk should try to stop second guessing the tactics involved.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      demands like this aren’t usually issued between erstwhile allies unless an affirmative response has been coordinated and guaranteed, as rejection or even delay in repsonse will appear politically damaging. Certainly, the left could put on a very strong show if it did co-ordinate and act in concert. The protests around the 90 day right to fire show the possibilities of what could be done.

  12. Rose 12

    When I shipped my personal belongings back to Auckland in 1990, I remember thinking I would be lucky if some items weren’t stolen on the wharf. It was accepted that goods were stolen on the wharf. I was lucky. Has it improved since then? Are your goods safer now than in 1990?

    • felix 12.1

      That’s not what “thinking” means, Rose.

    • Jenny 12.2


      That is unless you had any stuff on the Rena

      Even though you didn’t lose anything you are trying to infer the wharfies are thieves.

      The wharfies aren’t thieves.

    • Colonial Viper 12.3


      Your children are more likely to steal from you.

      • nadis 12.3.1

        Thieving on the wharves pretty much stopped with containerization. In the 1970s.

        • Jenny

          Again with the slur that the wharfies are thieves. For your lying information: Though relatively small compared to container traffic, a lot of general cargo still* goes through the Auckland wharves.

          Not even the worst of the anti-union managers at The Ports of Auckland has ever made such an inference.

          The wharfies are not thieves.

          *(at least it did, until the recession hit)

  13. Nick K 13

    Where did I get that $800k figure from? A union member stevedore from POA.

    • The Voice of Reason 13.1

      I smell bullshit, Nick. How long had your unprovable POA worker been in the super? And what were his contributions, (personal and company subsidised)? I would suggest 40 years at $20k per year would add up, but of course, there is no way that the first two decades of that would be actually at $20k, because wages were much lower then, so the latter twenty years are more likely to be $40k pa. Nah, still doesn’t add up, does it?
      Was your mate laughing at the time he told you this? Was his hand gently tugging at your leg, perhaps?

  14. Rose 14

    That’s good news. You are right. I haven’t had anything stolen on the wharves, so it’s best not to reach conclusions based on hearsay.

    • QoT 14.1

      Yet your comment does exactly that. Mmmmm, bullshit stereotypes which conveniently play into anti-wharfie memes, smells like astroturfing.

      • mik e 14.1.1

        just looking at the finance sector its more like the bosses doing the stealing in fact $750,000 a year is daylight robbery. nearly twice the prime ministers pay. for a small operation..

  15. Jum 15

    I was considering the attacks on the well-being of not only the port workers but their families (over a thousand) – but, WOW – 400,000 – now that’s strength.

    Maybe, the timid little New Zealand workers, perhaps cosy in their safe little working world – at least this year – will understand that these 400,000 people are now fighting on behalf of their future job security as well.

    Maybe, now, they will get up and speak out before it is their turn!

    They can always think about their own children and the complete loss of autonomy they will have in the future to have a say in their wages and conditions.

    Rich people’s children, on the other hand, don’t give a damn, unless their parent’s business goes down or the share price and they go out the window, last seen in 1929, in not quite so dramatic form in 1987 and of course now.

    Or, more ants for Ford’s factories.

  16. vto 16

    Curious. Is management taking a pay cut as well?

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      And I wonder if the Board are undermining their own terms and conditions too.

    • Hami Shearlie 16.2

      Don’t think so – it’s never lead by example with Chief Execs is it? The more they screw the wages of the workers down, the more their own salary goes up seems to be the order of the day!

      • vto 16.2.1


        For other examples try Christchurch City Council and their CEO compared to their other workers.

        Another example, try all MPs in the house and their large annual pay increases compared to other public servants.

        Or another one, try that twat “Sir” Graeme Harrison and his meat company in Marton forcing the workers to take pay cuts while their management take none.

  17. Jum 17

    Meanwhile, in Egypt, workers are being killed/fired by the military for trying to form unions, some say because the military know it was the collective groups that brought down Mubarak – unfortunately Mubarak’s mates are still making millions while the working people are still trying to survive on pennies. It’s hard to dislodge a vine that’s been tightening its grip for so long. It takes real courage.


    Yet they’re still attempting to form unions and fight for a minimum wage while risking their lives because they know just how important collective strength is. ‘meanwhile business owners gang up on syndicates, especially within the industrial sites…’

    Meanwhile in sheeple land they’re busy eating grass because that’s all that’s left now.

    Happy little sheeple.

    They’ve managed to convince themselves that it’s perfectly okay for some people to have everything while they make do with the grass that’s left after the bigger animals have filled their bellies.
    Grass. Very nourishing, boiled with a stone in the pot. Cow poo pats to keep the fire going. Of course the Water from the Water CCO to boil the grass with is getting harder to obtain… Still, plenty of stones. But the stones are getting harder to get now as they are being used to make walls to keep the Water CCO secure.

  18. beachbum 18

    How long has the current CEO been at the port. I see that the union won 3 of 4 parts of a court case with POA in March 2010. POA wanted to put some casuals on permanent fixed term contracts. The fixed term was to expire in time for a waterfront restructure. So was Gibson there then?

  19. Jenny 19

    Labour Party members are claiming that the maritime Union don’t want them and the Greens and Occupy Aotearoa to give them support.

    1/ Eddie

    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.

    2/ Darien Fenton:

    Darien Fenton, who has been spotted on the picket line at the port, said her party was not taking sides in the dispute.

    “We’ve been hoping that the parties will settle this, that they’ll find a way through this.”

    Ms Fenton said Mr Shearer had been in regular touch with both sides, “and he’s in contact with me and we’re all discussing it regularly”.”

    Our strong view at this point is it’s not helpful for politicians to get involved.”

    3/ Statement by anonymous Labour Party supporter at The Standard:

    If MUNZ want Labour and the Greens to declare their hands, then I will support my party getting on board. But I don’t think that will happen, because it is not in the immediate interests of MUNZ members for that to happen as its an industrial dispute at this point, not a political one. Yet.

    How can all these different Labour Party supporters be so confident, that the Maritime Union will not be asking them for support?

    Why would the wharfies ask for support from the The 5 million strong International Transport Workers’ Federation but not from other New Zealand unions, or the Labour Party, or the Greens, especially if it could mean the difference between victory or defeat?

    Is it because the Labour Party don’t want them to ask for this support?

    Are union officials loyal to the Labour Party putting pressure on the wharfies union leaderrs behind the scenes not to embarrass them, by asking for support for which they have already decided to refuse?

    • DeepRed 19.1

      “Why would the wharfies ask for support from the The 5 million strong International Transport Workers’ Federation but not from other New Zealand unions, or the Labour Party, or the Greens, especially if it could mean the difference between victory or defeat?”

      Sympathy strikes remain outlawed in NZ, but overseas it’s still legal.

      • Jenny 19.1.1

        “Why would the wharfies ask for support from the The 5 million strong International Transport Workers’ Federation but not from other New Zealand unions, or the Labour Party, or the Greens, especially if it could mean the difference between victory or defeat?”

        Sympathy strikes remain outlawed in NZ, but overseas it’s still legal.


        This is true, DeepRed. But there is nothing to stop giving the type of support as suggested by Colonial Viper here.

        I’d like to see a really simply thing. It is something that could be done in a few minutes. That Labour issues a public call to its full membership to support MUNZ, asking that members join the picket lines, provide financial donations and contribute other resources.

        Colonial Viper

        Notice, none of the things listed by CV involve striking.

        There is no law preventing supporters joining picket lines in their own time. And since the Ports of Auckland is a 24/7 operation this sort of support would have a major impact.

        I might also mention that a lot, of the still unionised worksites in Auckland, are also 24/7 operations. So if the Labour Party and their affiliated unions asked their members give this sort of support when they are off shift, the Ports could be picketed by thousands 24/7 as well.

  20. muzza 20

    Why the hell are people not discussing the below?

    ACIL = PBE – Public Benefit Entity. inside the ACIL are, PoAL/AIAL/DFI – The definition of a PBE is
    “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”

    Mark Holman
    Senior Advisor, Integrity
    State Services Commission

    The SOI document outlines the directive for the ACIL portfolio, and the council work with he board/ceo to set these directives.
    Surely the dicussion should also be around the fact that the SOI seems to be running against the PBE definition.

    When this was raised at the meeting on Thursday night, it was clear Parsloe et al, had no idea this was the case. Not to say they should, but it would be in the interests of the Union and its members to ensure they have all relevant facts available to them!

  21. vto 21

    Why do the business owners fear the collectivist approach?

    After all it is they who utilise the collectivise approach more than any other sector – think cooperatives like Fonterra and Foodstuffs. Think even the limited liability company which provides for the strength of collected people to undertake an undertaking. If it wasn’t for the collecting of people into groups for the purpose of business then business would be small small small and none of the big stuff would get done.

    Capitalists are the true and pure communists.

  22. muzza 22

    “Muzza, read my comments again. I don’t disagree with you about the idealogical basis of class struggles, but I think you are failing to understand that there is a difference between an industrial dispute and a political one. At this point this remains an industrial dispute, not a political one”

    I have read your comments, as well as understand the differences between industrial and political.

    The chicken and egg comes to mind Voice!

    • The Voice of Reason 22.1

      Yep! That’s a good way to put it, muzza. However, when industrial disputes escalate to political disputes, history suggests workers lose. There are few examples of councils or Government siding with workers in disputes like these anywhere in the world, let alone here in NZ. As others have pointed out, Len Brown’s inaction is preferable to what would be happening if John Banks had the chains of office.
      I believe it is MUNZ’s dispute to run and I’ll keep chipping away at those who use this fight to make immature and sectarian jibes at Labour. Not that I mean you by that, muzza; you seem to be testing my opinions in a principled way and educated way.

      • muzza 22.1.1

        Voice, those of us who are interested, involved, in various & differing ways must keep at the establishment however we are able to.

        It is the duty of thinking human beings to play our part, because as you point out, history is not favorable to towards workers in such disputes.

        It gave me satisfaction to see Banks lose out, not for political reasons but because the bloke is a cretin. To see him straight back in via the disgrace to democracy that was the Epsom electorate turned by guts, and the ridiculous Tea Cup saga, seemed to me like JK/JB just rubbing it right into the eyes of the majority of Kiwis….Had he been mayor, it would have much worse for the warfies, and I suspect many others by now.

        I have my opinions and views on the left – right paradigm, and you have yours, that’s fine, they wont be too many miles apart in coming years, and they are going to get closer all the time, IMO.

        Either way, we must spend our collective energies in the direction of the really problems, and not picking bones out of each other for the few degrees of separation that there might be between points of view!

        • The Voice of Reason

          Agreed! And on that point, I’ve got to shoot through. Spending the arvo trimming the trees at my Dad’s place, something I promised to do weeks ago, back when the summer hols looked endless!

  23. Ah some interesting developments. ‘Tentative agreement’ at Longview and commitment by Occupy to keep organising support until signed and sealed by the ILWU membership.

    Here’s what 400,000 wharfies looks like.


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    5 days ago
  • Taita College to benefit from $32 million school redevelopment
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    5 days ago
  • Redeployment for workers in hard-hit regions
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    5 days ago
  • $35m to build financial resilience for New Zealanders
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    6 days ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
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    6 days ago
  • $206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base
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    6 days ago
  • Review of CAA organisational culture released
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    6 days ago
  • New Board appointed at Stats NZ
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    6 days ago
  • New Principal Environment Judge
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    7 days ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
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    1 week ago
  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
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    1 week ago
  • Investment in New Zealand’s history
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    1 week ago
  • Driving prompt payments to small businesses
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    1 week ago
  • Rotorua tourist icon to be safeguarded
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    1 week ago
  • $14.7m for jobs training and education
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    1 week ago
  • Is it time to further recognise those who serve in our military?
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    1 week ago
  • Paving the way for a fully qualified early learning workforce
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    1 week ago
  • Sport Recovery Package announced
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    1 week ago
  • Major boost in support for caregivers and children
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    1 week ago
  • Great Walks recovery on track for summer
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    1 week ago
  • Māori – Government partnership gives whānau a new housing deal
    The Government is investing  $40 million in a partnership with Māori to get more whānau into warm, dry and secure accommodation, Associate Minister for Housing (Māori Housing) Hon Nanaia Mahuta says.. “We are partnering with Māori and iwi to respond to the growing housing crisis in the wake of COVID-19. ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders Safe In The Water
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    2 weeks ago
  • Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee
    The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, which set a sound legal framework ahead of the move to Alert level 2, has been referred to a parliamentary select committee for review.  Attorney-General David Parker said the review of the operation of the COVID-19 specific law would be reported back to ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand condemns shocking attacks on hospital and funeral in Afghanistan
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand condemns the targeting of civilians in two terrorist attacks in Afghanistan earlier this week. “The terrorist attacks on a hospital in Kabul and a funeral in Nangarhar province are deeply shocking. The attacks were deliberate and heinous acts of extreme violence targeting ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • Government to close tobacco tax loophole
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    2 weeks ago
  • $62 million package to support families through the Family Court
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    2 weeks ago
  • Tailored help supports new type of job seeker – report
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    2 weeks ago
  • A modern approach to night classes
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    2 weeks ago