Maritime Union Local 13 Auckland Branch Secretary Russell Mayn says he is appalled at comments from Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett that he would be wearing a ‘pink shirt’ in support of POAL CEO Tony Gibson who resigned yesterday.
Mr Mayn says he was not aware of any similar gesture made in support of the families of the two stevedores killed at Ports of Auckland and the swimmer killed in the Auckland Harbour.
In two of those cases, Ports of Auckland had admitted health and safety breaches, and the most recent death was still under investigation. This had happened under Mr Gibson’s tenure, says Mr Mayn.
“The CEO has rightly resigned from his job. The lives of these families will never be the same. To then try and flip this situation into being about sympathy for a CEO losing a job is wrong and shows bad judgement from Mr Barnett.”
Mr Mayn says systemic health and safety failures at the Ports of Auckland had been exposed by the Council-commissioned independent report, which vindicated the Union’s concerns about practices at the Ports over many years.
He says what had happened since the report being released was about the accountability of a highly remunerated executive of a publicly owned company – not bullying.
Mr Mayn said MUNZ members at the Ports had voted no confidence in Mr Gibson’s leadership, and Mr Barnett should respect the views of workers at the coalface.
He says Mr Barnett should ask local business owners about what they think of leadership performance at POAL “before defending the indefensible.”
The Maritime Union would be campaigning for corporate manslaughter legislation, so in future managers and Board members are held responsible for failing to ensure health and safety in the workplace, as had occurred at POAL and in other cases such as Pike River.
Mr Mayn says going forward the Maritime Union would work constructively with new management at the Ports to ensure a safe workplace.