The Maritime Union of New Zealand says Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson’s approach to the current industrial dispute is having a “catastrophic effect” on negotiations to resolve the industrial dispute at the Port.
Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says port workers he had spoken to had been upset and disturbed at the continuous stream of letters from the CEO that were appearing in their letterboxes.
“This CEO has the gall to tell the media that his comments aren’t intimidating workers because ‘they are part of us’. Has he asked them?”
Mr Parsloe says the reason workers were concerned was their CEO was sending out letters two weeks before Christmas, that tell his workforce he is thinking about outsourcing all their jobs and putting them out of work.
“I’m not sure how that qualifies for a caring and sharing approach. Is this negotiation or stand over tactics?”
Mr Parsloe says if Mr Gibson wanted to communicate with workers there were plenty of noticeboards around the port to place material.
“Our members have the right to go home to their families after the long hours and 24/7 shifts they put in without being under attack from letters threatening their livelihoods. It’s an invasion of privacy and it is creating stress on families.”
“There is nothing illegal about what Mr Gibson is doing. However it is unethical and not incidentally it is on the verge of creating a complete breakdown in his relationship with most of his employees.”
“No one is sending Tony Gibson letters at home saying his job might be gone on a whim. Maybe his employers should be sending him a letter like that and see how he likes it.”
Mr Parsloe says the pressure tactics are having the opposite effect to what Mr Gibson intended.
He says the workers want to negotiate collectively, through their advocates.
Mr Parsloe says the Maritime Union members, who make up the majority of the Ports of Auckland workforce, are completely up to date with negotiations because they attend regular meetings with their elected negotiators.
“I will say that we speak to Ports of Auckland workers quite a bit more than Mr Gibson does. He just sends them letters telling them he is thinking about throwing them out of work.”
“This is the problem with this CEO, you can’t talk to someone who won’t listen. This is an individual with no social intelligence.”
Mr Parsloe says the way the CEO was approaching the negotiations made workers believe there was an agenda to deunionize, casualize and outsource.
He says that Mr Gibson’s attempted manipulation of the loss of a Maersk service to Auckland for political ends had undermined the Ports credibility, with even an editorial in the New Zealand Herald politely rubbishing his claims.
“Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping line, has been only too happy to play this country’s ports off against each other. It was at it again this week, shifting one of its biggest container services from Auckland to Tauranga.
On the way through, it took a shot at trade unions, saying strike action at Auckland had played a part in its decision. That seems improbable. Maersk’s switch, which takes effect tomorrow, would have been the result of months of analysis, not the upshot of a few days’ industrial action. Nonetheless, the shipper’s decision has again highlighted its influence, not least in the way this can run counter to the national interest.”
(Editorial, Friday 9 December 2011, New Zealand Herald)
Ports of Auckland Limited CEO Tony Gibson is a former managing director of Maersk New Zealand.