Spotlight needs to go on Ports of Auckland privatization rumours

The Maritime Union is concerned about rumours of privatization at the Ports of Auckland, involving global network terminal operator (GNT) DP World leasing operations.

The New Zealand Herald today reported claims the Dubai-based multinational corporation has senior management holding upcoming meetings with Council staff and other key players in Auckland.

Maritime Union National Secretary Craig Harrison says there is no need for discussions, as the Ports have a great future as a public asset.

He says after a decade of mismanagement, the Ports are now back on track to deliver to the people of Auckland.

“The previous problems of the Ports were not caused by public ownership, but by lack of oversight by the owner and Board of the previous management and their bad decisions.”

Mr Harrison says it is not clear under whose authority Council staff are engaging with DP World.

He says the Union is one of many stakeholders discussing the role of the Ports with the new mayor of Auckland Wayne Brown.

“There is already a constructive discussion about the best way forward for the Ports, and to have these extra distractions flying around is not helpful.”

Mr Harrison says the Maritime Union supports a continued role for the Ports of Auckland as a productive asset for Aucklanders and an essential hub in New Zealand’s supply chain.

He says the difficulty and cost in relocating Port operations is underestimated.

“Maintaining a secure supply chain should be the number one priority for New Zealand in the current volatile economic environment.”

He says New Zealand needs a long-term national ports strategy that integrates rail and coastal shipping, with a focus on supply chain resilience and low emissions.

Mr Harrison says DP World do not have a great record, and is the owner of P & O Ferries, whose sacking of ferry crews in the UK by text earlier this year led to mass condemnation from the British public and even UK Government MPs.

He says previous attempts to sell off the Ports of Auckland failed, as did a 2006 attempt to part-privatize the Port of Lyttelton with the involvement of the GNT Hutchison Port Holdings.

Maritime Union members make up the great majority of stevedoring workers at the Ports of Auckland.

The Maritime Union has been a strong advocate for health and safety at ports, and predicted the failed automation project at the Ports of Auckland was not fit for purpose.


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