Why does the Right think port workers’ pay should be cut?

Written By: - Date published: 1:18 pm, January 12th, 2012 - 74 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

National high flyer Jami-Lee Ross, Ports of Auckland’s chief shill, and Fran O’Sullivan all joined the fray over the port dispute yesterday. How does their line that the workers are overpaid marry with the Port’s claim that they’re offering pay rises? Does the Port project its wage bill would rise or fall if its offer were to be accepted? And what to make of this ‘national interest’ line?

I wonder if Ross jumped the gun or its part of the plan. Until now, National has conspicuously stayed out of the Port dispute but yesterday Ross went blundering in claiming that workers’ rights to organise for collective bargaining are too strong and repeating the line that the Port workers are overpaid. Ross wrote:

“This isn’t a story of a David versus Goliath battle where workers are being ripped off or paid a pittance. Few could call poverty on an average annual wage for a wharfie understood to be north of $90,000, with a proposed 10 percent hourly rate increase and performance bonuses of up to 20 percent, sitting on the table. To the average person on the street, the latest Ports of Auckland offer to the Union would almost seem generous… the bare-faced mockery that the Maritime Union is making of civilised negotiations New Zealanders will soon begin to question what position unions should hold in the modern Kiwi workplace.”

Of course, Ross doesn’t mention that workers would end up with less pay at the end of the week. And he would know something about good pay. He’s been paid over a hundred thousand dollars for doing … what precisely? … since he became the Member for Botany.

But what’s Ross’s point here? That the workers are paid too much? That they should suck up some cuts and just be glad it isn’t more? I wonder if Ross will be putting forward a proposal to cut his own pay when Parliament resumes after its two month holiday. Oh, and what’s up with his grammar?

[incidentally, Ross calculates that Fonterra sent $1.4 billion of exports through Ports of Auckland before it shifted. What he didn’t calculate is that is only about 10% of Fonterra’s exports and only 5% of the $26 billion of cargo that the Port handles in a year. And don’t get me started on his line that workers shouldn’t ‘bite the hand that feeds’ – it’s the workers doing to work and generating the wealth, not the bosses].


Yesterday, Catherine Etheredge, Senior Manager Communications at the Port, came on The Standard to similarly smear her colleagues – which the Port praises so highly in its last annual report – as overpaid and lazy. In the process, she also provided some detail of the tricky accounting that the Port has used to get the mythical $90,000 a year figure. Very useful.

I note there’s no suggestion that her salary or break times should be cut.

In fact, the Port’s figures show that ‘Key management personnel‘, which are defined as the CE and the people reporting directly to him (6 middle-aged white guys by the looks), were paid a total of $3.25 million last year. That’s $750,000 for the CE and $500,000 for each senior manager. Don’t forget $80,000 per director for a few days work a year.


Fran O’Sullivan took a slightly more refined angle, which I suspect is set to become the Right’s new main line:

“the Productivity Commission which estimates exporters and importers spend upwards of $5 billion a year on freight and has forecasted annual trade could be boosted by $1.25 billion if transport costs were shaved by 10 per cent. There is a national interest issue at stake here.”

Therefore, O’Sullivan reckons, the greedy workers should accept a pay cut, so that the Port can cut its charges and importers and exporters could trade more stuff and we will all be richer (except the workers).

Except, as O’Sullivan knows full well, the Ports of Auckland make up only 3.5% of the $5 billion importers and exporters spend on freight. While freight costs, by the Productivity Commission’s numbers, are worth 6% of total trade, the cost of getting $26 billion worth of stuff through the Port is less than $175 million, or 0.6%. Knocking a fraction off that by cutting wages and passing the savings on (which isn’t the Port’s stated intent) would have no discernable effect on trade levels.

If you wanted to boost trade by knocking 10% off freight costs, the only way to do it would be to slash the price of oil. If freight costs are a barrier to trade (and the Productivity Commissions numbers don’t actually suggest they are a serious barrier), it’s not a few stevedores that is making some trade uneconomic, it’s peak oil.

To put it in a way that might grab O’Sullivan a little more personally. Her argument is like saying that New Zealand businesses spend $5 billion a year on advertising and, if only advertising were cheaper, businesses could sell more stuff. And then saying that, therefore, there is in the national interest in making advertising in the Herald cheaper by cutting the paper’s wage costs, starting with, say, senior businesses columnists who, I’m sure, pocket a lot more than $27 an hour. Funnily enough, I think O’Sullivan would see lots of holes in that argument.


So, you’ve got a few very wealthy elitists pointing at a bunch of working class people who get decent pay if they put in some serious hours of heavy physical labour and saying ‘they have it too good, cut their wages’. That’s the rightwing elite for you, of course. Gain is always for them. Pain is always for everyone else.


PS. Etheredge also came on The Standard to deny that the Port is paying Cameron Slater anything. Far be it from me to doubt the word of a well-paid spin-doctor. But, I wonder if she could answer one more question: How much does the Port project it would save on wages if its offer were to be accepted?

74 comments on “Why does the Right think port workers’ pay should be cut?”

  1. John Dalley 1

    Jamie-Lee Who?
    Do you mean waste of time local (Ex) poli and first term National party hack?

  2. infused 2

    “Yesterday, Catherine Etheredge, Senior Manager Communications at the Port, came on The Standard to similarly smear her colleagues”

    Wow. I thought she came here to clear up all this shit you lot were spewing. God this place is a cesspit.

    IrishBill: then you won’t mind taking a month off. Goodbye.

  3. queenstfarmer 3

    How does their line that the workers are overpaid marry with the Port’s claim that they’re offering pay rises?

    Where did Jami-Lee Ross and Fran O’Sullivan say that?

    • “Few could call poverty on an average annual wage for a wharfie understood to be north of $90,000, with a proposed 10 percent hourly rate increase and performance bonuses of up to 20 percent, sitting on the table. To the average person on the street, the latest Ports of Auckland offer to the Union would almost seem generous.” – http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1201/S00020/union-biting-the-hand-that-feeds.htm

      • queenstfarmer 3.1.1

        That quote in no way says that the wharfies are overpaid. Oh dear. I do hope that this entire post by James is not based on a complete fiction.

        • Blighty

          yeah, right. Ross, Slater and the rest of the Right aren’t opposed with overstating the wharfies’ wages to justify cutting them. They just happen to be mentioning the alleged size of those wages in passing …. at every opportunity.

          • queenstfarmer

            That’s your opinion. The author stated that specific individuals have said that “the workers are overpaid”. Now you have conceded that (to your knowledge) they didn’t actually say such a thing – you just have a hunch that they might have.

            I’ll see if the author can actually point to the quotes he is presumably referring to. Surely he is able to do so, given that he went to the effort of writng an entire article based around those alleged comments.

            • RedLogix

              To the average person on the street, the latest Ports of Auckland offer to the Union would almost seem generous.

              Which is a pretty back-hand way of saying ‘overpaid’…. is it not?

              Sure you can quibble around with literal meanings, but the intent of the line is fairly obvious.

              • Colonial Viper

                The average person on the street has a median income of $30K pa.

                That’s how shit this country has become. Maybe we should keep following the neoliberal prescription in this matter, after all if it hasn’t worked over 30 years we should just keep doing the same but this time with more gusto?

                • queenstfarmer

                  I think you’ve replied to the wrong post. All I asked was where Ross and O’Sullivan said that the workers were “overpaid” – the premise of this article. Perhaps you can enlighten us?

              • queenstfarmer

                Which is a pretty back-hand way of saying ‘overpaid’…. is it not?

                No, it’s not. In fact that quote isn’t even talking about the workers current pay. It’s talking about the port’s offer. And it’s even expressly falling short of calling the offer generous.

                Sure you can quibble around with literal meanings, but the intent of the line is fairly obvious

                Ah, so once again it appears that the foundation of an attack piece is based not upon what people actually said or did, but what they didn’t say – quite a difference, don’t you think? Attributing false positions (eg strawman attacks), besides being poor form, generally indicates a lack of ability to attack on substance. To do so as the premise of an article would be, I suggest, very poor form.

                • RedLogix

                  The so called ‘generous’ 10% pay increase is accompanied by a reduction in paid hours, so that for the same work they will receive less money. Quite a big reduction in fact.

                  Not so ‘generous’ at all really.

                  But if as you state, neither Ross nor O’Sullivan are saying, or even implying, that the MUNZ workers are ‘overpaid’ .. then can we assume that they think the port workers are indeed paid correctly for their work?

                  In that case what on earth is everyone getting so upset about? Turns out that this putative $90k pa is perfectly ok. Glad to have that one sorted.

                  You can stop fussing about it now qsf.

                  • queenstfarmer

                    I haven’t made any comment about whether these people are overpaid, and how would I know if they were or not? I was just curious to read the author’s assertion that specific people had claimed that the port workers were overpaid, and asked where they actually said that (the one link provided does not say that).

                    • RedLogix

                      I haven’t made any comment about whether these people are overpaid, and how would I know if they were or not?

                      So why all the fuss then qsf?

                      If you are not prepared to know enough or commit to a position; then why bother commenting?

                      On the other hand if noted right-wing voices like Ross and O’Sullivan are not arguing that the port workers are ‘overpaid’… then you have to assume that the workers are in fact paid reasonably, and that it’s perfectly acceptable for them to negotiate to preserve their existing terms and rosters.

                      Because accepting PoAL’s current offer is a substantial 20% pay cut for the same work. Logically that would make them underpaid would it not?

                      Which position do you think is fair?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Nice petard you’ve got there QSF, perhaps you could avoid hoisting youself on it by quoting the section where this alleged quote is contained.

                      I see it described as a ‘line’ that is being pushed, a message if you like, but I don’t see this supposed quote you’ve been blathering on about.

                    • queenstfarmer

                      Pascal, the author stated this:

                      Ross went blundering in claiming that workers’ rights to organise for collective bargaining are too strong and repeating the line that the Port workers are overpaid. Ross wrote: … [Ross quote]

                      Now where in the Ross quote, or the link to his article, or anywhere else, does anyone state, or express in some other way (sign language??), that they think the port workers are overpaid? Where is Ross’ “line”? In fact, where is the original “line” that Ross merely “repeated”?

                      The inability of the author, or anyone else here including you, to show where such an assertion was expressed indicates that the author’s assertion – and the premise of the article – is false. Unfortunately, not an uncommon occurence.

                    • queenstfarmer


                      If you are not prepared to know enough or commit to a position; then why bother commenting?

                      I happily admit I don’t know what the hypothetical “fair pay” for the hypothetical average wharfie would be. And as you missed it the first time, I’ll repeat it – I’m not commenting on anyone’s pay.

                      I commented because the author made a factual allegation, which he has been unable to back up.

          • Hami Shearlie

            What about mentioning the salaries of Tony Gibson et al – examine their salary packages publicly and ask them to justify them, then, watch them squirm – Free entertainment!!!

            • Spratwax

              Yes -take note that when you mention the salaries of Gibson and other management at POAL, and why this isn’t being questioned (Stratospheric salaries which make what the port workers get, seem like slave labour!), there is no comment from the RWNJ’s- complete silence actually!

              Don’t hear O’Sullivan et al talking about that now, do we!

  4. higherstandard 4

    Actually I commend POAL via Catherine Etheredge posting information on this site so people can comment on it and as for the smearing most of that on this forum has not been coming from her.

    Perhaps MUNZ could be encouraged to post a rebuttal of her figures on this site so people could similarly reflect on their comments ?

    • “Smearing”?

      You’ve got it wrong (again), HS.

      Put out your calculator. Enter “27”. Multiply by “40”. Then multiply by “52”. The annual salary comes out as $56,160.

      Well short of $91,000.

      Nek point.

      The 10% wage increase was an offer by Ports of Auckland management – not a demand from the Maritime Union.

      The issue here is casualisation – not a pay increase, which only reactionaries seem fixated on.

      • higherstandard 4.1.1

        Frank I was suggesting that the majority of smears on this site were coming from the authors and commenters rather than any imagined smears James seems to have found in her comments.

        In relation to the 56k figure I think even the most partisan have moved on from that figure and accept that the pay is OK and that it is about workflow planning and rostering which neither party wish to budge much on.

        • RedLogix

          Yes the $56k figure was only ever in play to illustrate that the base rate is perfectly ordinary. All MUNZ members would take home more cash than that (excluding of course PAYE).

          But that is way short of the $91k figure that was also only ever in play in order to try and discredit the workers.

          The real number for most of them is somewhere in between. If we can all accept that and as you say move onto the real substance of the debate, which is rosters and casualisation…. then I’m 100% on the same page as you.

          • higherstandard

            Who knows if we’d the discussion in a pub over a beer and a meal we could probably have avoided frothing at each other for a couple of days.

        • Frank Macskasy

          “…I think even the most partisan have moved on from that figure and accept that the pay is OK and that it is about workflow planning and rostering which neither party wish to budge much on.”

          I concur.

          ‘Tis a shame others have not moved past that, HS.

          On the issue of “workflow planning and rostering”, I’d suggest that very few staff employed on
          a full time basis would want to suddenly become casualised. Aside from the unfairness of such a move, it would not engender much staff loyalty.

          Indeed, I think it would increase the migration flow from NZ to Australia.

          As it is, this recent report should be cause for concern;

          “Sentiment on work prospects gloomy”

          By the way, I luvved your comment above, about “rogering” the scoundrel who maligned firefighters. Well put.

  5. randal 5

    as adam smith noted in his theory of moral sentiments, what human beings desire mots of all is command over labour.
    i.e. they want to be the boss.
    so money is justa tool for psychopaths to whip others for their egregious gratification.
    as for fran sullivan she says the workers are threatening the long term viability of the port.
    what the hell does that mean?
    the port isn’t going anywhere.

  6. It’s nice of National MP Jamie Lee-Ross to confirm the following;

    “”Every Aucklander has a stake in the Ports of Auckland. It is not a privately owned company. Nor is it listed on any stock exchange. Each and every share in the company is owned by the Auckland Council on behalf of 1.4 million Auckland residents and ratepayers.””

    No doubt he will steadfastly oppose privatisation of the Ports?

  7. Draco T Bastard 8

    Get it right – The RWNJs think all workers pay should be cut so that the owners and administrators can have more.

    • mik e 8.1

      they won’t be happy until wages are comparable to Chinese workers

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        And more to the point, that wealth inequality is as extreme here as it is in China.

        This isn’t just a throwaway line as far as I’m concerned. I believe that the fight to eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty is one of the great moral pivots of our age.

        For the last 10,000 years or so since the adoption of agriculture our society has been dominated by patriarchal power, and obsession with property, material wealth and the means to accumulate and protect it.

        The economic system we now have, privileges and enables a tiny wealthy elite to accelerate that process beyond all sanity. It harms every human, every living thing … and ultimately threatens extinction on a mass scale.

        Undoing this lunacy is I suggest one of the most challenging, most vital tasks facing all of humanity.

        • Colonial Viper

          We’ve got to make sure that on the downslope of energy availability that we do not slip into a neo-feudalism.

          • RedLogix


            Of all the many, many things you’ve written here…. that is the most concise statement and precise statement of the challenge.

  8. beachbum 9

    I think there is plenty of shit that can be sorted by both parties – they are poles apart at the momoent.
    As for the Nat MP going to print – he is just out of touch and should be ignored. MSM finally found someone to quote…

  9. tc 10

    Possible JLR jumped the gun (hardly the sharpest tool in the shed) as granny has rolled out the next phase with “Govt should tackle ports union ‘problem” backed up by the NACT’s productivity commission and their massive business and practical real world store of experience they draw on.

    As predictable as night following day.

    • Hami Shearlie 10.1

      JLR sure isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed – mind you beside Tau Henare and Paul Quinn, the man is an intellectual giant!!!! Reminds me of The Incredible Hulk without the green glow!!!

  10. Colonial Viper 11

    Internal POAL Management document proves bad faith and intention to escalate


    Total incompetence at the executive management level.

    • beachbum 11.1

      This shows 100% competence. It shows they are forward thinking and exploring all likely scenarios. It shows they have a handle on their cost structures etc. You might not like their line of thinking but that does not mean they are incompetent.

      If MUNZ had any sense (And I am not saying they don’t) they would also have a plan of attack for the negotiations and what all the scenarios are and how they might work out.

      If these parties are not doing any planning and strategising then they should be sacked.

      Any decent manager will know their business drivers and have scenario workouts for various situations. They don’t just turn up to work and see what is on their desk for that day…

      • RedLogix 11.1.1

        mmm … yes but the point is that the PoAL clearly had a strategy from the outset and an intended goal of causalising/contracting all their labour.

        In other words PoAL have not been negotiating, they have been imposing a pre-determined solution. And this is before Maersk and Fonterra announced their ‘change of port’. Indeed the document shows that these moves were anticipated as a useful ‘threat’ to the Union.

        And as I demonstrated in another thread; when you unilaterally impose things on other people that they regard as unreasonable.. they react.

        Understand why MUNZ have been taking industrial action now?

        PS.. having said all that; the damned document is undated and unsigned. I’d be more comfortable with it if the provenance was clearer.

        • higherstandard

          I had a look at the document thinking it may have been a smoking gun and it is somewhat weak to say that least.

          Between the press release from MUNZ and those from POAL today post mediation I have the distinct feeling that the writing is on the wall.

          • RedLogix

            No I don’t see it as a ‘smoking gun’either, but it strongly suggests that that PoAL management has not been negotiating in good faith.

            They determined that they wanted casualisation from the outset and nothing the Union said or did was going to change that.

            Moreover it clearly anticipates Maersk and Fonterra moving to Tauranga, and how that would be useful extra pressure in the process. (I don’t think the term negotiation applies anymore.)

            Given Gibson’s close links with Maersk, it’s certainly no longer a long bow to suggest that these moves were ‘engineered’ for just this purpose.

            In other words the Board and Management may well be deliberately damaging their own business in order to de-unionise the port.

            • higherstandard

              I don’t read it that way at all.

              Firstly it appears to be an unfinished, unofficial document probably typed up as a discussion piece for a management meeting.

              That aside it does set out the key concern which is no surprise to anyone, which is covered in the first couple of paragraphs. I wonder if things would have turned out any differently if MUNZ had been invited along to parts of these meetings where the major concern regarding workflow improvements were being discussed.

              I can’t see that there will be any outcome apart from a bad one for MUNZ at this stage assuming that the figures in the document are correct in relation to the cost per container difference between Auckland and Tauranga.

              • RedLogix

                I’m inclined to agree about the provenance of the document. I’d expect more to be revealed before anyone starts taking it too seriously.

                But IF it is legit, then clearly it is a strategy planning document. It’s evidence of what management had in mind BEFORE they started the negotiations.

                But on the other hand, if as you say its just a bit of unofficial fluff… then you don’t get to cherry pick which bits of it you like or not.

                I wonder if things would have turned out any differently if MUNZ had been invited along to parts of these meetings where the major concern regarding workflow improvements were being discussed.

                We can’t know that now can we? Except that the Union appears to have been sincere all along in it’s desire to participate in meanignful productivity improvements.

                Indeed improvements they have already been achieving.

                • Ross

                  This document, undated but prior to the end of workers’ employment contracts, indicates that the company always intended to casualise its workforce. “There would need to be an 8-12 week timeframe for contractors to commence operations…[t]he current workforce…is insufficiently flexible to meet the challenges of our business and for many years there have been many service failures.”

                  The document says that the company’s current wage bill is $30 million which is 33% of total costs. If staff hours per container were the same as Tauranga, “we would spend approximately $6m less.” Hmmm that suggests that the company were, and are, wanting to shave 20% off the current wage bill, though there is no indication that there would be cuts to the pay of middle and senior managers. It is also unclear why wages are being attacked, since they comprise only one third of total costs. What about the other two thirds?

                  At no stage did company spin doctor Catherine Etheredge say that the company wanted to reduce its wage bill by 20%. In fact, she said that hourly pay rates would increase by 10%.

        • beachbum

          I would be pretty sure it is in advance of negotiations. And they would argue that what they predicted has come to fruition. Just like the Qantas lockout/close down. They obviously had a plan in place – it was not designed over 12 hours…

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.2

        beachbum go back to the 1970’s and 1980’s, that’s where your management style belongs, that’s also where this confrontational approach was last considered “competent”.

        Any decent manager will know their business drivers and have scenario workouts for various situations. They don’t just turn up to work and see what is on their desk for that day…

        This is a strategy document not a contingency planning document. Can you not tell the two apart. But let’s assume you are correct – where the fuck are management’s scenario workouts for forming excellent working relationships with their own workers and driving productivity improvements together as a team?

        Or did management just focus on the wargaming the negative contingencies, as well as backhanding their own Board of Directors and the port’s owners?

        Fire executive management now.

        • beachbum

          No argument with your second last paragraph – we can disagree on your first part. I would imagine that the workout on forming excellent relationships was gone as an option well before the CEO arrived. – I note other comments that this CEO may have been brought in to “break” the union. I am not sure how long that relationship has been so bad.

    • Blue 11.2

      That document is pretty damning.

      It definitively shows that POAL’s strategy going into this was to casualise the workforce and they had no intention of negotiating with the union. No good faith to be had there.

      Particularly interesting is this:

      6. Other
      a. Threat of Actual Loss of Maersk volume will facilitate change
      b. Threat of Loss of Maersk volume will not facilitate change

      It’s hard to read that any other way. It’s a specific statement that merely threatening that Maersk might go will not achieve what they want. Maersk actually going will be necessary for them to get what they want.

      And this:

      3.0 Step 3 – Identify the alternatives
      a. CEA (Collective Employment Agreement) changes enable objectives to be achieved – Not achieveable as changes too great for MUNZ (Maritime Union of New Zealand).

      And then there’s alternative e:

      e. Status Quo – focus on cultural change and improved leadership.

      Cold day in hell before a company considers that, eh?

      • Colonial Viper 11.2.1

        And Gibson, a former Maersk NZ managing director, was in the perfect position to coordinate POAL industrial action with Maersk NZ.

  11. randal 12

    wages must be cut so if POA is privatised then the shareholders get all the gravy.
    shame on TVNZ for not running the item about the productivity commission who seem to be in collusion with the stock exchange.
    how about getting off your bums and investing in some new productive capacity instead of using the government to grab everything for the rentiers.

  12. Jenny 13

    What gives Jim?

    Why are you continuing to repeat the right wingers lying narrative that this dispute is all about wages?

    From the beginning, Ports Of Auckland Ltd. (POAL) have been demanding that the union agree to allow contracting out of ports jobs.

    What part of this don’t you understand?

    • RedLogix 13.1

      PoAL make their real intentions for workers crystal clear here:

      The port company has refused to say what its offer would mean for labour costs at the port, except that its staff hours per container were about 1.21 hours and it would like to reduce that figure to less than 1 hour.

      In other words more than a 20% pay cut for moving the same containers. Of course Gibson isn’t offering to improve ‘productivity’ by taking 20% pay cut for himself.

      And can we hear no more of this nonsensical 10% pay rise drivel please?

      • Ross 13.1.1

        A wage cut is obvious by the fact that management want to trim $6 million from their $30 million wage bill. This equates to a 20% cut in wages.

        • Colonial Viper

          Board members and the CEO will get nice fat bonuses for taking pay away from workers.

          This is a dysfunctional, screwed up economic system.

  13. Eduardo Kawak 14

    This is exactly the type of business practice that continues to widen the gap between rich and poor. Jonkey is a villian for pushing these types of agendas while telling New Zealand that he’s doing the opposite. All the while his fat cat pals at POAL are milking it for all its worth. That strategy paper is crazy scary. How can you make an apples for apples wages comparison between the ports in Tauranga and Auckland? The cost of living in Auckland is miles higher and the salaries should always be well in excess of those in Tauranga, regardless of whether the ports in question are council or privately owned. Any idiot, POAL management excluded here, knows its cheaper to live in Tauranga than in Auckland and that salaries reflect this. NZ is screwed with clowns like these running the show.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      NZ is screwed with clowns like these running the show.

      Well I’m not sure, but apparently Rodney Hide appointed them…

  14. Eduardo Kawak 15

    Short-man syndrome fancy Epson Banks wannabe

  15. Interesting…

    It is further worth noting about Ms Etheredge’s (PoA Communications Officer) statement;

    “This is not a cost-efficient nor sustainable labour model, especially when the company is not covering its cost of capital…”

    “Not covering its cost of capital”? Yet, according to the National Business Review, Ports of Auckland posted a $24.9 million profit in the year to June – up 2.1% on the previous year.


    And in October 2010, Managing director Jens Madsen said that “overall container volumes in the three months to September 30 were up nearly 8% on the same period last year”.


    So that statement from PoA’s “communications officer” doesn’t ring true.

    More shortly – still putting the finishing touches to a blogpiece.

    • Ross 16.1


      What the company spin doctor really means by her ‘not covering the cost of capital’ comment is that the company would like to make larger profits! That’s pretty obvious by its wish to slice $6 million off wages. But bear in mind that the wage bill ($30 million) is only one third of total costs. You would think if the management of the company wanted to look at ways of trimming costs, it would examine the other $60 million of its expenditure.

      • Fyully concur, Ross.

        Interestinglyt, it was the PoA management that was throwing a 10% wage increase at the workers.

        The workers weren’t interested – they wanted job security instead. Which is kinda understandable, really…

  16. And…

    “Plea for ratepayers to give up port control”

    I think we’re starting to get the picture here…

  17. Jenny 18

    Union leaders have called this dispute “A Patricks situation” after the 1998 Australian dispute. In 1998 just like what is planned here, the Maritime Union of Australia members were made redundant and replaced with contractors hired by the notorious anti-union contract firm, Patricks.

    Just like the notorious Patrick’s Dispute, Ports Of Auckland Ltd. are in the end game of edging the union out of the water front and replacing them with non-union contractors.

    This is not a new strategy, and was attempted piecemeal by POAL in 2010. In late 2010 POAL illegally replaced the unionised shuttle drivers with contractors. (Shuttles are the long flat bed trailer units that transport containers between the wharves.) This action was taken despite POAL being legally bound by the collective contract, which made their actions illegal.

    Since the expiry of the collective agreement POAL are now demanding that the union agree to allowing them to outsource union jobs during the period of any new collective agreement and are refusing to negotiate until this concession is agreed too.

    For the union to sign up to this, would mean giving POAL complete power to replace all union members with non-union contractors. The union would be powerless to stop them, bound as they would be under the ERA from taking industrial action. Strikes and lockouts are illegal during the period of a contract, under penalty of huge fines confiscation of union property and even workers homes.

    The Right, have captured this debate and tried to frame it as a case of greedy wharfies making unrealistic wage demands during a recession.

    Those who frame the debate usually win it.

    This is all part of the propaganda war to isolate the wharf workers from the majority of other workers who, are on the whole getting lesser wages and suffering poorer conditions than the unionised wharf workers.

    I get tired of this stupid wrangling of what the wharfies are paid or, not paid.

    I would be disappointed if the wharfies were getting paid less, as the wharves are one of the few strong union hold outs left, as such they are a powerful object lesson in the value of unions. Of course they get better wages and conditions.

    • Jum 18.1


      + 1

      ‘I would be disappointed if the wharfies were getting paid less, as the wharves are one of the few strong union hold outs left, as such they are a powerful object lesson in the value of unions. Of course they get better wages and conditions.’

      Totally agree – can’t people understand that logic? Also, I wouldn’t want to do the job for less. I’m equally sure that the POAL is stacking the wages detail to sound more than it actually is.

  18. Spratwax 19

    Gibson has been brought in to fast-track privatisation of the port- there is no desire to negotiate at all. Read this speech by previous CE:


    Note the line- “Here in Auckland , we have our challenges. We have higher labour costs than elsewhere.We must work faster, more efficiently and more productively.”

    and…”For New Zealand ’s sake we need to move above the infighting and the distractions.
    We do not have much time.We must work constructively on how to get the best out of our existing investments”.

    Something to do with ‘Hubbing’ and competing with Australian ports. Interestingly, the port of Brisbane (referred to in the speech) was privatised in Nov 2010- the new owners being Q Port Holdings.

    Enter Mr.Gibson, December 2010.

    Another interesting read:

    Food for thought!

  19. beachbum 20

    “I would be disappointed if the wharfies were getting paid less, as the wharves are one of the few strong union hold outs left, as such they are a powerful object lesson in the value of unions. Of course they get better wages and conditions.”

    And if that is the main reason why you are worried for them then you are backing a lost cause.

    UNions with attitudes like MUNZ have done their time and being replaced – a bit like Steam Engines – a relic of the past

    • The Voice of Reason 20.1

      “UNions with attitudes like MUNZ have done their time and being replaced – a bit like Steam Engines – a relic of the past”
      In your head, maybe, Beach bum. Care to give some examples to illustrate your point? And what do you think they are being ‘replaced’ with?

    • What are threse “attitudes” you refer to?

    • Jum 20.3


      ‘a bit like Steam Engines – a relic of the past’ – but still capable of setting brush fires I hear!

  20. beachbum 21

    In your head, maybe, Beach bum. Care to give some examples to illustrate your point? And what do you think they are being ‘replaced’ with?”

    Read again – I referred to attitudes. MUNZ has not moved on from the 70’s.

    Thats why they had to bring in Helen Kelly who at least does not appear to be weighed down by generations of indoctrination.

    • The Voice of Reason 21.1

      Yep, that’s what I read. So where are your examples of these unions being replaced? And what are they being replaced with?
      PS, regarding Helen Kelly and ‘generational indoctrination’, you obviously don’t know her family history!

  21. beachbum 22

    Have a look at POT, unions are there but they dont get away with the shit that they do at POAL. They have what you call casualisation there and seems to work quite well.

    • Tom Gould 22.1

      Swings and roundabouts. The right have the whip hand these days, in cahoots with the media. They get what they want. The system will correct itself, in time.

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