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Workers’ victory over incompetent PoAL management

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, March 28th, 2012 - 43 comments
Categories: business, infrastructure, transport, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Ports of Auckland must pay the permanent workers among the union members it had illegally locked out.

PoAL suddenly changed tack yesterday and now says the lockout isn’t for health and safety but because there’s not enough work (thanks to the weeks of industrial action the management has triggered). Neither excuse worked on the Court.

It’s only a partial victory for workers who want to work and have long-term job security, not just get paid for two weeks of doing nothing. But it’s yet another costly defeat for management.

How long will they keep burning ratepayers’ money like this before the council acts?

43 comments on “Workers’ victory over incompetent PoAL management ”

  1. My take on this:


    I wonder how long Mr Pearson can last after yesterday and what will happen on Friday in the Employment Court. He has been responsible for a catastrophic over-reaching in this dispute, with costs of every sort escalating and the dispute (under his driving) likely to go on into June. Mr Brown cannot let this crisis drift forever…..

  2. Tom Gould 2

    POAL management and board have engaged this dispute on a political level with the inevitable results, they have outsmarted themselves, screwed it up and cost the port and Aucklanders who own it millions of dollars. It seems to me they have indeed acted recklessly and incompetently, and there ought to be a day of reckoning for them. What is the point of paying a CEO south of a million bucks a year only to have him turn amateur politician and blow the viability of the company? If he and his lapdog chairman had any honour they would simply resign. But honour at this level in business is pretty much unknown these days.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 2.1

      Wouldn’t it be good if there were a way to bring criminal prosecutions?

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      No need for honour, just a Mayor and a Council willing to sack them all for massive failure of fiduciary duty.

    • burt 2.3

      Tom Gould

      With all due respect for what have said because I do totally agree with this statement;

      What is the point of paying a CEO south of a million bucks a year only to have him turn amateur politician and blow the viability of the company?

      However I think the same can be said for the heads of MUNZ. As a Labour party affiliated union it’s laughable to claim that their actions and positions aren’t also politically motivated.

      The workers outside of a union context wage their own battles between their needs and wants and their political ideologies and their tolerance for the compromises imposed by the hand that feeds them. That hand being their own. I can’t guesstimate how many of the circa 300 workers would individually have preferred to be earning on the ‘new terms’ v how many are prepared to stand or fall on it but I know that circa 300 of them have done so already.

      It’s pretty shabby politics that pits an entire workforce against an employer in a weak economic/employment environment. It’s shabby from both sides.

      • McFlock 2.3.1

        God forbid workers can think for themselves and instruct the union to proceed in XYZ direction. They must have been manipulated and dictated to by evil union leadership.

        • burt

          The workers must think for themselves McFlock. Good on them for doing that. It’s a brave worker who turns do an offer in lean economy when it’s signaled their current terms are ending. I wish them well in their fight.

          The union labeling people thinking for themselves scabs isn’t helping here.

          • McFlock

            The workers labeling people thinking only of themselves scabs isn’t helping here according to you, but it reflects the opinions of the majority of the workers.

            Fixed it for you.

            • burt

              The tyranny of the majority. Fighting the man, the good old class war, solidarity – that old chestnut.

              It’s putting circa 300 workers on the bread line, I hope it’s helping Labour because otherwise it’s helping nobody.

              • McFlock

                Nope. The tyranny of idiot management are putting 300 workers on the breadline. It’s not even a capitalist issue any more, really – managerial incompetence seems to have jumped in front of plain old casualisation greed.

              • felix

                No, the PoAl is responsible for putting workers on the breadline.

                If you’re going to side against the workers at least be honest enough to admit to your position.

  3. Kotahi Tane Huna 3

    With the substantive hearing set back to May and total humiliation on all counts, what is left but to resign in disgrace and retire to contemplate the wreckage of your shiny career?

  4. burt 4

    I assume that Parsloe & Kelly has turned down their salary for the period their pawns haven’t been paid?

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 4.1

      Do you? How fascinating, no, wait, this just in: who cares?

      • burt 4.1.1

        So the general leads from the comfort of the war room not from the front line – that’s one way to do it.

    • felix 4.2


      Instead of blaming the people who sacked them (and always intended to), you blame the people who are trying to help them keep their jobs.

      • burt 4.2.1

        No, not at all. I don’t blame them – I acknowledge them as the bargaining agent of the collective agreement that has been the core of this dispute. If they are wrong I guess it’s blame, if they are right then good on them.

        Lets see how they go getting compensation eh, that will be a measure for the validity of their actions.

    • Blighty 4.3

      you call these workers pawns when they have democratically chosen all their actions and kicked the bosses’ arse every time?

      What a pathetic wee fellow you are.

      • burt 4.3.1


        In Chess it’s sometimes said the Pawn’s are the soul of the game. I’m not really using that word as derogatorily as it may seem. I’m more acknowledging there is a bigger game going on here, with a union affiliated to the Labour party it’s hard to dispute that. Therefore the workers are indeed the soul of this game, they are the ones making the sacrifices.

        • felix

          This “game” was kicked off by PoAl wanting to get rid of their workforce.

          Responsibility lies squarely with them for whatever happens as a result.

          • burt

            Right you are.

            In this game the port kicks off a change and union says “NO” and that ball is now dead.

            That’s the rules right – the union decides what games can be played and it’s valid play when the union throws it’s toys and shuts up shop. But when the port does that it’s not fair.

            I get it – I can be trained to understand good faith from either side but the common ground appears elusive to us all. I guess the court will establish a position on that as this case progresses.

            • Colonial Viper

              Wow burt…you just forgot the Port has far more money, control and influence than the Union does…and it is the workers under attack from this organisation which in the past has promised to be a good employer, not a non-employer.

              And yeah, if an employer is going to threaten jobs with no regards for due process, damn right that “ball” is going to get punctured real fast real hard.

  5. Given No Right Turn’s revelation that the Council and ACIL can’t give us an idea about the losses associated with the ports’ dispute, my very rough and indicative suggestion:


    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Council and ACIL can’t give us an idea about the losses associated with the ports’ dispute

      “Can’t” is quite different from “won’t”, of course.

    • burt 5.2

      That’s interesting stuff. What a shit load of money.

      The issue I see however is that there were weeks and weeks of strikes prior to the lockout. Therefore the unions are also responsible for a large portion of that circa $21m.

      I think the union soldiers are being a bit myopic starting to now count the costs, basically it’s bringing to the public attention that for every day the union decided that the best was to demonstrate good faith itself was to impose a cost of approx $480,000 on rate payers, tax payers and consumers.

      There are two parties stuffing this up for circa 300 workers, slinging mud at the POAL management is half the story.

      • Uturn 5.2.1

        Other than “it’s the way I like it”, is there some concrete basis to your implied claim that unions should not exist, that the law should not be upheld and that those its articles protects should not use its protections, and that any employees should bow to the whim of management at their own cost in every circumstance?

        Is there any concrete basis, other than “it is my random argument” that your definition of an implied “fair review” and balanced discussion is actually that the POAL can use the law to their advantage, but the unions may not? That any cost that might theoretically be laid at the feet of the unions, while they legally make use of their legal protections, while smaller, is somehow larger in importance than the costs created by the management in pursuit of – now let’s be generous here – “actionable” strategy? I’m curious to your understanding of “balance”.

      • Blighty 5.2.2

        if the management hadn’t insisted on contracting out the workers’ jobs, none of this would ever have happened. Simple as that.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          Yup Burts an idiot its thats simple, he ignores pretty much all sense of reason to spout his anti union crap. As far as Burt is concerned the worker is lucky to have a job at what ever wage the employer wants to give.

          • burt


            The unions have always had legally protected their right to use that amount of money per day as a bargaining chip. To now turn around and criticise the board for doing the same is a little self destructive. It makes some people consider the costs of every step that got us to where we are today.

            The public being educated as to the cost of a days down time is a good thing, but please don’t be to astonished when the response that education creates is working against you.

            • Craig Glen Eden

              More shit from burt!

              In 4.3.1 above burt you claim the Union is using the members who vote of their own free will, issue by issue as a political porns. You have no idea what you are talking about.
              Not only is it condescending to any Union member, it just shows how little you know so please spare us all your anti union crap.

              Yes the public are starting to get educated as to the real agenda of this Board and Management team and it isn’t looking good is it, getting their arses kicked all over the court. No 12% return for them this year or next. How long before the board chairman gets is arse fired do ya think? They have spent thousands on PR even giving away boat cruises of the port to push their nasty little agenda but now the truth is finally coming out.

        • burt


          I’m not condoning or criticising either party actually. I’m simple saying that using that amount of money per day as a bargaining chip is wrong. As a rate payer, a tax payer and a consumer I resent both parties for letting this break down so badly at my expense.

          Sure if management hadn’t insisted on contracting out the workers’ jobs, none of this would ever have happened – I can’t argue with that simplicity. POAL has that ‘Limited’ word in it’s name though. It has the ability to restructure itself and it appears it’s doing that without the union rather than with it.

          So I could say if the union was interested in protecting workers it wouldn’t have let this get to a position where they were locked out. Simple as that.

  6. KJT 6

    Shows how right they are to oppose casualisation. It is only the locked out permanent workers who are getting paid.

    The casual staff who were on strike, and are now locked out, have no legal recourse.

    What is going to happen now to the management and board, who cost the city of Auckland 20 million and counting.

  7. Jenny 7

    Workers’ victory over incompetent PoAL management


    POAL have successfully maintained an illegal lockout with no court ordered penalties, or repercussions.

    The union members are still out of a job and POAL have announced that they are determined to continue with their formal notice of an indefinite lockout, leading up to permanent dismissal of the union workforce.

    Unless things change, this could hardly be called a victory.

    At best this could be called wishful thinking.

  8. Jenny 8

    The union tell it like it is:


    Today’s injunction stopping Ports of Auckland progressing its plans to dismiss and replace its workforce, combined with the company’s plan of an indefinite lockout, leaves Auckland Council with no choice but to intervene to find a workable solution to the industrial dispute, the Maritime Union said today.

    The ball is firmly in the Super Mayor’s court, will he act or not. Will the Mayor and his council let this dispute degenerate into a long drawn out siege, with serious costs for the public and serious losses for the economy.

    A Mayor and a council that could let this happen are not worthy of their positions.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      A Mayor and a council that could let this happen are not worthy of their positions.

      Humble pie all round.

      And more proof that our “Left Wing” politicians are nothing of the kind. They are too comfortable with the plans of their upper middle class and upper class colleagues.

      • james 111 8.1.1

        Viper please take Len back and envelop him in the bosom of the left again. We don’t want him in Auckland we don’t want his unaffordable plans. Send him some where we he can do little damage maybe Raoul Island

        • Craig Glen Eden

          While I think Len and his councilors have been gutless we shouldn’t loose sight of the fact the current supercity structures where put in place by National and Act. Aucklander’s lost the right to vote on the structures because these two parties took that democratic legal right away. If their is going to be any public humiliation sessions lets start with the perk luster Rodney Hide.

          • Olwyn

            I agree, Craig. Especially when you remember that the appointees to these structures are ACT Party approved.

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