Auckland port workers sacked
Wed, 07 Mar 2012 10:03a.m.
By 3 News online staff
The Ports of Auckland company has just dropped a bombshell on its striking workers, making them redundant and announcing it will contract the work out.
The company says it will move to a “competitive stevedoring model” for unloading cargo.
Workers will be given the chance to apply for jobs under the new regime.
Port CEO Tony Gibson said the move would be "welcome news for Aucklanders as well as customers".
"We’ve weighed up all the options and we believe this is the best decision for the future of the Port," says Mr Gibson.
"Auckland enjoys significant natural advantages, including its proximity to New Zealand’s largest market, where 60 percent of exports, and 70 percent of import business takes place.
"Until now we have been constrained by practices which have reduced the port’s competitiveness, and in recent months industrial action, which has lost us significant business."
Maritime Union president Garry Parsloe says the 292 affected employees are "absolutely gutted".
“Port management wants to take away job security from 300 ordinary working families," says Mr Parsloe.
"There is no basis for this proposal. We’re already providing flexibility and have offered even more in negotiations with the Ports.
"This announcement flies in the face of public opinion, who have made it clear to us over recent weeks that they want a sustainable Ports of Auckland, with secure jobs for its workforce."
The Council of Trade Unions also condemned the sacking.
“The union movement is 100 percent behind these workers and their families, and we will vigorously oppose the moves to dismiss these workers," says president Helen Kelly.
“It is an outrageous approach to bargaining for the Port management to say, 'Accept every change we want in the collective agreement or we will sack all of you and replace you with contracted labour that has to accept every one of our demanded changes in hours of work, and rosters, and reductions in so many other conditions of work essential for safety and job security.'"
Ms Kelly is calling the Ports' actions a "most ruthless attempt to drive down labour costs".
"I don’t know what sort of employer sits down and thinks, ‘I’ll just sack all those guys and bring in somebody else.’"
Three different companies will be hired to supply stevedoring services to the port. The redundant workers will be encouraged to apply for positions at these companies.
But as contractors, they would no longer be able to negotiate pay, hours and working conditions with the Port directly.
“This decision has not been made lightly, but we believe it is vital to ensuring a successful and sustainable future for the Port, including protecting jobs over the long term,” says Mr Gibson.
Both Mr Parsloe and Ms Kelly say it is time for Mayor Len Brown to get involved.
“His legacy cannot be that he stood by while these workers were treated in this way.”
Mr Brown says he is on the side of the "the people of Auckland", and expressed his "disappointment" the two parties couldn't come to an agreement.
“We deserve a port that is competitive, a decent return for rate payers and a settlement that is sustainable," says Mr Brown.
“My powers to intervene in this dispute are severely limited by legislation surrounding the port. However the people of Auckland can be confident that I am in constant contact with both parties in the dispute and they are aware of my concerns about the consequences for Auckland as a whole and the families directly involved."
This Saturday at 4pm the union is holding a protest, inviting the public to come down to Britomart and support the fired workers. There will be music, food and entertainment.
Workers are picketing this morning at Teal Park, corner of Tamaki Dr and Soylent St.
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12/03/2012 7:55:19 a.m.
Three hundred un-empoyment on the agenda and each family man will be claiming the benefit to cover their families for everday living..What is this Government really up to, maybe this Government thinking richer over Dotcom's approx billions of dollars and does'nt care but to bring in the rich to the country even if they are criminals of frauds to terrorist just to cover the damages they creates..Sorry Kiwi port workers you are out numbered and soon the country will be sold in bits to forigners.. be aware..
11/03/2012 12:34:25 a.m.
Just wanted to write in my support from all the workers at the AMWU Victoria. the working class need to fight for a fair wage, otherwise the gap between rich and poor will just get bigger, and conditions and the value of a workingman's and womans life becomes next to nothing. Kia Kaha
8/03/2012 3:45:26 p.m.
8/03/2012 8:02:31 a.m.
Now auckland can move forward, This is a great decision,For the whole of the country.
7/03/2012 11:32:06 p.m.
Am a union member and have been for over 40 years,but is about time some put a stop to the wharfioes gravy train,want to spend time with the family?get another job want to work? then work and stop yo're moaning,have fun on the dole queue boys
7/03/2012 10:33:40 p.m.
Well said Gavin - people scarcely batter an eyelid when senior management award themselves huge salaries and bonuses, yet when the port workers have the audacity to try and stop their existing working conditions from being ERODED, they are universally condemned!
I can understand management types wanting to put the boot in, but as far as everyone else is concerned, it just sounds like petty jealousy. I guess when you have a soul sucking job at the Warehouse, Pack n Save or McDonalds, where the workforce is casualised to the extent that employers can avoid paying overtime, its easy to dismiss the wharfies as a bunch of greedy commies.
Maybe instead of criticizing the unionists because their working conditions are so generous, we should be asking ourselves why we allowed ours to get so crappy.
7/03/2012 8:51:17 p.m.
About time a decision has been made. I'm sure the unionised worker don't want to be made redundant, they just want the gravy train to continue on, but there are heaps of other equally unskilled workers without jobs who will immediately fill those positions at 1/2 the outrageous rates these union buzzards have screwed out of us ratepayers. Excellent decision.
7/03/2012 7:16:15 p.m.
I beleive that this was the Port Company's intention all along
this is the outcome they have been trumpeting since day one. Len Brown pull out your finger and do something
7/03/2012 6:17:37 p.m.
There was no good faith - from the union side.What does the union call a 4 week strike, and spreading the trouble to other maritime union ports by discriminating against all non-union labour?If a business made similar discrimination on a basis of religion or the colour of ones skin - everyone would be in an uproar - but if your in a union such discrimination is standard.If you pull out of negotiation you give a business no choice but find an alternative. The port needed more flexibility and the union could have negotiated a collective agreement, and could still negotiate collective agreements with the 3 stevedore contractors. The union chose not to negotiate - so this is the result. Like a smoker who blames the cigarette company when they knew that smoking kills before adopting the habbit, the union will blame everyone from the ports of Auckland to the major of Auckland, to John Keyes - all because they wont take responsibility for their actions!No doubt the union can apply for 'sociable hours' with the stevedore contractors - if they get them, fine. If they dont get them, fine too.
7/03/2012 6:09:13 p.m.
Do you union bashers applauding sackings and the lowering of wages and conditions for workers understand that the outcome will be that the rest of the community will also suffer due to there being less money spreading to small business and a greater reliance on government agencies for support. Low wage, crap condition outcomes might meet short term goals for the big end of town but do nothing for communities or the efficiency of operations. All employees should be concerned by this news.
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