POAL should do a Qantas

Damien Grant writes in the Herald:

Last month, its CEO, Tony Gibson, wrote an embarrassing article in which he admitted that his primary competitor, the Port of Tauranga, was more efficient, more profitable and that despite paying unskilled dock workers $91,000 a year, he was unable to make them do more than 26 hours of work.

Can you imagine the CEO of Westpac writing in the New Zealand Herald that his staff were less productive than those of BNZ, that they were paid too much and he could not get some of them to put in 40 hours?

Gibson needs to look no further than the example set by Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas. When his unions threw a wobbly, he grounded the fleet. Joyce showed courage, stared down the union, took some short-term heat but saved his airline.

It is a very competitive market, both for port business and for labour, something the union fails to recognise.

The Ports of Auckland is owned by Auckland Council, where councillors voted 12 to nine to back the port’s management, with left-wing troglodytes such as Sandra Coney and eight others voting to support the union.

I’m not meaning to be disrespectful (okay, maybe I am) but working on the docks is not skilled employment. Knowing how to remove an appendix is skilled. Moving a container is something someone with basic literacy and functioning limbs can learn over the course of a few weeks.

They are earning $91,000 a year because Parsloe knows a council-owned company does not need to make money and that management will back down from a fight.

A LGOIMA request of emails to and from Sandra Coney and Mike Lee should be very illuminating.

Gibson should sack the entire workforce and start again. At $91,000, there will be no shortage of applicants, even if he has to fly them in.

He will not because his political masters will not let him.

Down in Tauranga, the local council floated 45 per cent of its port’s shares to the public. The business is therefore run along standard commercial lines. Its CEO is winning clients such as Maersk and exploiting the underlying competitive advantage it has over the hapless Jafas.

Government ownership places constraints on a business that produce the sort of nonsense we are seeing at the wharves.

Unions sense weakness and seek advantage, commercial discipline is lost and there is no consequence for failure, no risk of insolvency and no reward for profit.

The state-owned enterprise model is an improvement, but there is no discipline like the discipline of the market.

Gibson should sack the entire workforce and tender out the work. Let’s see how the union fares then.


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  • Scanner

    Bring it on, the more of this that appears in the public domain the greater the chances of it actually getting sorted,

    The Qantas case should be taught as management “best practice” in dealing with unions.

    Run and hide Len, your circus might have to look for a new ringmaster.

  • ConwayCaptain

    In the early 90’s during the reform of the Ports the Port of Tauranga went out on strike for about 8 weeks and ships were queued up in the anchorage.

    However, the productivity of the PoT even in the days of conventional shipping was streets ahead of Akl.  I was mate of a reefer ship and loaded similar cargoes in Akl and Tga andthe Tga rate was miles ahead of Akl.

    • Willsomers101

      The stuff said by Christie is bullshit, the crane rates are not that important its the ship rates that matter. All because Auckland has more cranes so the individual rate is lower.
      The rate of unloading a vessel is higher at Auckland. ie the ship leaves more quickly than at Tauranga.  The larger yard at Tauranga  means they can be more productive once the container  is off the ship. 
      Other factors are related to the shipping companies and the type of freight.
      Check out the real data here

      Not rely on an accountant like Damien Christie who  picks out a word or two out of context of a newspaper article .

      • Scanner

        Yes but the cranes in TGA actually move unlike the ones in Auckland, de-register the union and trespass the union officials from the site would be a good start.

      • politically unstable

        Having worked in the industry it is all about the crane rates. load rate by vessel is the key KPI. No-one talks about ship rates – they are all different sizes and cargo types.

  • Anonymous

    “….there is no consequence for failure, no risk of insolvency and no reward for profit.”
    This could have been written about the Tranz-Metro trains in Wellington. No consequences for poor performance – it’s just “take it or leave it.” PoA seems to be run exactly like Tranz-Metro, and if that’s not an insult, I don’t know what is.  

  • Willsomers101

    Do a Qantas ? And have a government industrial relations supremo order the airline to close the lockout in the national interest and the unions  to stop the go slow ( including the pilots who were just making cabin announcements).
    This doesnt happen in NZ. full stop as we dont have a government arbitrator.

    What he really means  is a employer lockout.

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely, bring it on. What is the philosophical difference between a strike and a lockout?

      • Willsomers101

        Its an abuse when the employees do it , but a good thing when the employers do it- go figure.
        Then again POAL isnt run by a gay irish  tosser like Qantas.

    • Scanner

      Sack the fucking lot of the lazy cunts and start again without the union, if these jobs were advertised there would be a line 10 deep at the gate, better still fill a container with union pricks and export them to one of the union paradises they seem to preach about, they could even take Fenton with them to provide entertainment en route.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    If Tony Gibson is going to offer jobs, I will quite happily do 45 hours a week for $91000.
    I want to be at the top of the list for new applicants

    • Mully

      Me too. I’ll take those benefits for 45 hour weeks too.

      And, I’ll promise not to join a Union…

      Gibbo, hook me up, bro….

      • Willsomers101

        Its a lie to say they only work 26 hours of a 40 hour week. The actual reference is 65% labour utilisation.  Which also includes  stat hols and annual leave.

        And we all know what happened at Pike River when they used unskilled labour and ignored safety.

        getting killed at the container terminal isnt that unusual.

      • politically unstable

        I haven’t heard that safety has been an issue at POAL?

    • Bafacu

      Count me in too!!

  • bristol

    Precedents have been set, on 5th August 1981 then US President Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 striking Air Traffic Controllers who had ignored an order to return to work, and banned them from federal service for life. The US has a law that states that striking government employees forfeit their jobs. Reagan stared down the Union, who wrongly believed that no President would actually invoke that law. Balls, that’s all that’s required.

  • Anonymous

    Given that the council apparently owns PoA, Layabout Len the mayor should be ordering PoA to put the jobs out to tender. WTF has Len being doing in the time that he’s been mayor? He seems to be from the George Hawkins school of action – in other words, missing in action.   

    • Willsomers101

      Not lens problem. The POAL  has its own board and the various Businesses owned by Auckland Council are overseen by the
      Auckland Council Investments Ltd (ACIL) is a council-controlled investment company. ACIL owns and manages Auckland Council’s major investment assets, including the investments in:Ports of Auckland Ltd (100% owned)
      Auckland International Airport Ltd (22.4% owned)
      Auckland Film Studios Ltd (100% owned.The ACIL has five directors of which  3 were appointed by  Rodney Hide and 2 by the council.Cant see Len Brown even sacking anybody at the council itself as they only control the CEO.gee some of the people here have zero knowledge of  Auckland Council works.

      • Guest

        It is Lens problem. The CCOs report to Len Brown and the council, so they are ultimately responsible for the ratepayer asset, even if operational and director control is held elsewhere. Council are the shareholders, so they do have the authority to demand action even if not in oprational control.

        Council has already set the scene, thanks to the hard work of Cr Fletcher and Brewer, by endorsing the CCOs efforts to make POAL more efficient. Their motion of endorsement passed 12-8 IIRC.

      • Willsomers101

        “even if operational and director control is held elsewhere. Council are the shareholders, so they do have the authority to demand action even if not in oprational control.”

        That is so funny…  then why did Hide appoint his own people ( 3 of 5) to ACIL.
         It all ready existed ( as a regional body) so they could have carried it over- I think Judith Bassett was Chair.

  • Ben

    I see a couple of opportunities here.
    First we need a mix model ownershi scheme at a 75:25 private:council ratio.
    Next your performance bonus as a worker, I was thinking if employeed you get an allocation of company shares. It would give you, your co-workers and management a extra incentive to perform well, because performing well or better means increased dividend as a nice bonus. Oh if you sell your shares while working, your choice.

    Then we create a private cooperative contracting company for our enterprising people amongst us to compete for port labour tenders with their pooled labour. Port does not deal with indivduals as the private firm does that, private firm screws up bye bye tender and you can imagine some pissed off workers. However while I can see every socialist and communist screaming that this private cooperative contracting would send labour rates and conditions racing to the bottom that might not be the case. We already have labour pooling companies in practice, and a cooperative model could mean every worker has an share in the company and the incentive to do well through the balance of rewarding pay and productivity. The port would also keep an eye out, it does not need cowboy labour outfits as the incurs high risk so hopefully it would use reputable labour companies.

    I could go into this more but typing on a tablet sucks…

  • Paulus

    Its the RATEPAYERS who own POA – not Len’s and his Mob. He is only the part time short term person responsible to the RATEPAYERS.

  • Scanner

    Perhaps just suppose the rumor currently doing the rounds that there may be about to be a large tract of downtown waterfront land coming up for sale for development soon, sort of solves two problems really gets truck traffic out of the central city, and tops up the tin for someone who wanted to build something, like say a train set for example.

    • Willsomers101

      What nonsense, the port is essential  to Auckland and they need more land ( like Tauranga) to become more efficient.

      • Scanner

        If it’s so important why are the pinko scum that are holding the city to ransom being allowed to continue with the BS strikes?
        This dispute has nothing to do with wages, terms or conditions, it’s all about a bunch of sad union fucks losing the power they think they are entitled to, break their heads and then their balls perhaps then they will understand this isn’t 1950
        Fuck off back to the circle jerk Standard where you belong, TROLL.