A leaked Ports of Auckland strategy document shows their goal is to reduce the stevedores’ wages by 20%. They were planning to manufacture a crisis even before the stevedores’ collective expired. They’ve been rumbled breaking the law by not bargaining in good faith. Their political support will now evaporate. They should cut their losses, and a deal with the workers, now.
The Port is trying to deny that this document represents the Port’s policy, yet it is clear that the Port has pursued this strategy.
The offer they put up is tantamount to demanding a 20% wage cut from the workers. The union offer is the status quo with an inflation adjustment to the hourly rate. The Port spun their offer as a 10% hourly pay increase, and had the gall to call the workers unreasonable.
The Port then moved to further toxify the relationship with the stevedores by branding them as overpaid and lazy via their blogosphere allies. This dirty campaign has further eroded the already slim chances of a settlement.
After mediation yesterday, the management promptly blamed the union for not giving in but also showed that it won’t take one step toward compromise: “today’s marathon six-hour mediation session with the Maritime Union was frustrating … Whatever the union comes up with has to stack up in a business sense compared to an outsourced labour model”
The Port even had the cheek to offer the crisis it has created by refusing to try to reach an agreement as a reason for not trying to reach an agreement: “Right now though, we’re running out of time. Our customers are looking for a quick and definitive outcome. Our employees’ jobs are uncertain [because we’ve said we’re going to sack them all]. We have to protect our existing business, win back the business we’ve lost, and put the foundations in place to achieve sustainable growth over the long term, in the interests of all stakeholders”.
Documentary proof that the Port has been running a strategy to make the negotiations fail all along shows that they have not met the requirement to bargain in good faith, which is an offence under the Employment Relations Act. It also destroys the credibility of the Port management and its spin machine.
Whereas National had seemed about to jump in the ring on the Port’s side (following an oh so conveniently timed Productivity Commission report that calls for partial privatisation and de-unionisation of ports) they will now stay well clear. National has no interest in being seen siding with the Port’s dirty tricks team now that it has been exposed for what it is.
If they have any sense, the Port management will cut their losses at this point and settle for a status quo agreement with the workers. The directors will surely be telling them to get it sorted before any more business is lost.
We can expect CEO Tony Gibson, the man employed for a $750,000 salary to break the union, to be gone by the end of the year.