The Maritime Union of New Zealand has attacked “bogus claims” by Ports of Auckland management that workers are to blame for the loss of Maersk’s Southern Star shipping service at Ports of Auckland.
Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson’s “blame game” being played out in the media was damaging negotiations.
“We keep on hearing assertions and inventions being thrown around, and we want to point out the simple fact that they are nonsense, and harmful nonsense that is undermining any resolution to this dispute.”
“Sooner or later Mr Gibson’s stream of misinformation is going to come back and bite him. It’s very hard to sit around a table with someone who just makes things up like this.”
Mr Parsloe says the withdrawal of Maersk was only for one of their services, and the real facts were already on public record.
“It is on the record that Maersk are doing this for a number of reasons, and I guarantee the decision is due to a range of commercial factors that have been considered for a much longer period than the few weeks this dispute has been around.”
Mr Parsloe says that today’s New Zealand Herald editorial stated that it was improbable the Maersk decision was the result of the dispute, and would have been the result of months of analysis, not the upshot of a few days’ industrial action.
The New Zealand Herald noted how Maersk’s decision has highlighted the way its influence could “run counter to the national interest.”
Given that the Ports of Auckland had locked out workers for an entire two days, Mr Parsloe said it was obvious that the supposed management concern for customers and lost business had no credibility.
“To grandstand about lost business while simultaneously locking out your workers has no credibility. It’s a bankrupt position, a failed strategy, a complete own goal by these people.”
He questioned the agenda of Ports of Auckland management.
“Every step of the way it seems to us they want to ramp it up. Do they want a resolution, based around fair treatment of their workforce, or is this a war against workers by a management who want to contract out and divide and rule?”
Many statements had been made about the importance of the Ports of Auckland to the economy.
Mr Parsloe says the profits that are made go back to the people of Auckland, and the services of the Ports of Auckland, are achieved by a round the clock 24/7 workforce.
“These workers, our members, are highly skilled operating in a potentially dangerous heavy industrial shift work environment in all conditions.”
“In short, our members are the ones keeping the economy going, not CEOs, and we demand the right to good terms and conditions for our families. We’re not going anywhere and the sooner these characters get that straight, the sooner we will get a result.”
Mr Parsloe says the greatest damage to New Zealand ports by far is caused by the unconstrained power of global shipping companies who pull services out of ports on a regular basis creating great insecurity, especially in the regions.
Ports were in a race to the bottom with wages and conditions, says Mr Parsloe, and the damage done to local economies in New Zealand is substantial.
Mr Parsloe says the motive for the Maritime Union action was clear.
“It is to focus Ports of Auckland management on the seriousness with which their employees regard their actions.”
Mr Parsloe says that the issue was focussing on why a tiny minority of workers on individual agreements were being offered a much better deal than the great majority of workers who were on the collective agreement.
“There is no doubt that this is a planned move to undermine the workers on the collective agreement and our Union.”
Mr Parsloe says the strike notices are not being put out for fun, and the decision was taken by a vote of confidence in the Union by union members at Ports of Auckland on the collective agreement.
“This is the result of where Mr Gibson’s continued attacks on the union and the majority of his employees has taken us. The workers have got together, discussed the issues and they see the big issues at stake.”
“Let me make it clear that every time the CEO attacks his workers in the media, it is having the sole result of firming their resolve to bring him to heel and make him negotiate in good faith.”