Skilled New Zealand workers turned down for jobs at Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland Limited CEO Tony Gibson has told media that there are no New Zealand workers available for key jobs including crane and straddle drivers.

However the Union has an email from a former POAL employee dated 2 December 2020 that turns him down for a job as a straddle driver, and instead offers a role for skilled lashing work on a ship (see below.)

The worker had more than ten years of previous experience at the port driving Straddle Carriers and other Port Machinery, and was one the very operators POAL say they are short of and whom would help alleviate the staffing issues.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says any “labour shortage” is being caused by POAL mismanagement.

He says the company has relied on staff working excessive hours, and due to the Union highlighting Health and Safety concerns, the company has reduced the amount of hours required to be worked in a seven day period.

“For several years, MUNZ has warned management they needed to ensure they had adequate levels of skilled labour in the port but they continued to reduce staffing levels as part of their failed automation plan”. 

The Port has been well aware of its staffing issues as stevedores were working excessive hours last year and leading up to the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year, says Mr Harrison.

“Over the past few years our Union has highlighted the underutilisation of Stevedores in the various roles and also the reluctance of the Ports of Auckland to train MUNZ members into some of the key roles.”

He says the reasons for Mr Gibson saying New Zealand workers were not available were for him to explain to the shareholders of the port, and those who had been affected by the freight backlog at the Port.

Mr Harrison says the email response to the job applicant shows  the Ports of Auckland is not exhausting all the opportunities available to them to try and solve the congestion. 

He says that the POAL Chairperson and Board need to take ownership of the problems as the Port’s problems were affecting the whole country.   

“Change is required at the top at Ports of Auckland and the New Year would be a good time to get the port back on track unless Aucklanders want to see these same issues continuing on through to the majority of next year.”

POAL management have given numerous dates over the previous years for automation to be up and running and to date they continue to fall short, says Mr Harrison.  

LETTER FROM POAL:

Hi,

Thank you for your application for the Stevedore – Straddle Driver/Reach Stacker position at Ports of Auckland.
Unfortunately at this stage we do not feel your experience meets our criteria for this position, however we would like to know if you would be interested in being considered for a Lasher position?

A Lasher is responsible for securing and releasing the equipment on board a ship that secures containers for safe transportation. This physically demanding role involves heavy lifting and is absolutely key for operations.

If yes, please respond to this email by 9am Friday 4th December stating “Yes I am interested in a Lasher position”.

We thank you again for your interest in working at Ports of Auckland.

Kind regards,

(Name removed)
Recruitment Specialist – People & Capability

Please note I work Monday, Wednesday & Friday

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