The Maritime Union says comments by Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson about Maersk shipping pulling their Auckland service are mistaken and confused.
Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says the assertion that the move by Maersk was simply a result of industrial action was clearly inaccurate.
He says that shipping companies pulled out of New Zealand ports and swapped into others on a regular basis, for all sorts of reasons.
“Our advice to Mr Gibson is to stop playing to the gallery and start talking to his workforce.”
Mr Parsloe says management pulled out of mediation today at the last moment.
“We were all set to go along and get the talks underway and then at the last minute the company decide they are not coming.”
He says it is strange behaviour for POAL management to say how terrible the situation is for their customers, and then lock out their workforce and fail to show up at negotiations.
“Since the port company have locked its employees out for four days, perhaps the question should be asked what effect has this decision by management had on shipping and customers?”
“We really need to be asking what is the agenda here. Is this a company that wants a resolution? Or is this an agenda to attack workers?”
Mr Parsloe says media comments from big business executives and Port of Tauranga CEO Mark Cairns were transparent and derisory.
“The reality is these gentlemen would prefer it if workers were paid nothing. That would ensure more profits for them, which is all they care about and is all they have ever cared about.”
The issue was that workers at Ports of Auckland were not going to accept contracting out or the undermining of their collective benefits they had negotiated.
“The CEO keeps going on about side issues in an attempt to deflect attention away from this.”
“We are not going to see the years of work we have put into building a decent superannuation scheme and health scheme for working people be undermined.”
Cashing up those benefits for a tiny minority of workers on individual agreements is simply promoting freeloading and in the long term is clearly aimed at knocking out conditions first, then attacking wages later, says Mr Parsloe.
“Mr Gibson is talking like this is the first time a multinational shipping company has pulled out of a New Zealand port and it is all due to workers.”
But this claim was undermined by the fact that Maersk had publicly stated there were many reasons for the decision, and the global shipping multinational had been in discussions with the other port for some time.
“The interesting thing is everyone just goes along with all the economic damage that does, which will be a lot larger than the stoppage at Auckland. So let’s have a consistent approach to discussing economic problems, because if we want to start down that track, why don’t we put the acid on the shipping companies.”
Mr Parsloe says it is time questions were asked when Port Company CEOs, road transport executives and big business advocates were all singing the same song.