Is MUNZ on crack?

Yesterday talks between the Maritime Union and the Ports of Auckland again broke down.

It is fair to say that none of the talks have achieved much at all. The Port has attempted to make changes in their operations and labour arrangements because of commercial pressures and stern competition from the Port of Tauranga. Many changes over the years have been made in all areas except for the stevedore labour flexibility. It is now clear, mainly because the union keeps telling us that this issue has never been an issue about pay. It has always been an issue of conditions. Faced with the need for change the Union have told the country via their tame media flunkies that not only was any change unacceptable, but they wanted to remove some of the small changes that had occurred in the past five years. The Union are dinosaurs that will not change at all, and they have effectively abandoned their members in their desire to cling to the past. Like the dinosaurs they will become extinct.

Last night on  TV1 there was a union PR piece relating to the Port stoppage.

It is obvious that the union has stepped up their sweet whipserings into the ears of media and it appears they are winning on that front. Looking at last nights TV coverage it was obvious that the Union had spent some time talking to TV1, emphasising the effect that the strike was having on their member’s families.

The scene was a Ports employee, his wife and family, sat in their lounge at home. The stevedore was crying a river of fake tears explaining that they were no longer allowed to bully people, but the port was going to.

Heh…not allowed but certainly want to bully eh?

Perhaps it was a slip, but it came across as one of those “do you still beat your wife” questions, where either answer given confirmed that you either did in the past or were doing so currently. Given that the interview was not live, and that TV1 were being sympathetic to the family is was a dumb bit of editing. It was certainly dumb management by the Maritime Union.

The appalling performance of the Union in the media to date it demonstrates that someone else is now looking after their media releases and information flow. that new person is the main Hobbit hater, Helen Kelly. For some reason she is the one now speaking and emphasising the need for a collective agreement and job security.

The Union has got smarter, now the Port needs to. It does emphasis just how badly the stevedores have been let down by their Union.

The Union could have been right up front pushing for changes which benefitted the Port, and benefitted their members with a win-win all around.

Helen Kelly made some strange claims…but then again she is just putting the talking points out there knowing the media won;t ask the right questions, or more usually no questions whatsoever. She was asking for the Port to put their offer in writing. This is the same offer that was printed in all major newspapers, the same offer TV media have been talking about, the same offer put in POAL press releases and the same offer that the union themselves are talking about on radio. I don’t understand how much more “in writing” that could be.

I had to laugh at the tame academic who contended that casual employees tend to be less productive. Really? the how is it that Tauranga is so much more productive than Ports of Auckland? The Tauranga model obviously works exceptionally well. I suspect the good little academic has made a mistake of comparing casualisation with casual manual workers…the two are not compatible. A Ports environment requires skilled workers who are able to work on a casual roster not casual brain dead workers available from the local labour hire place.

The whole TVNZ piece shows though that all reasonable work related arguments have been exhausted by the Maritime Union and so they have called in Helen Kelly to turn it deeply political.

Expect now that the CTU and Labour party to exert more visible pressure in Parliament, and on to the Auckland Council.

No amount of political interference is going to do anything to restore confidence in the Port by the people who matter: the customers and the ratepayers.

Meanwhile I fully expect that the latest strike will be ignored by the Port company who will simply keep the port open and moving. At the end of the strike the union will have been shown up for being ineffective as the ships and freight are unloaded and loaded without them.

I fully expect that despite the claims of the union heavy who is upset at not being able to intimidate people that the union will do just that. They try to stop trucks and freight at the wharf entrance and they will be egged on by assorted rent a mob layabouts like Minto and Bradbury flashing peace signs while watching the union die in a ditch.

One thing for sure though is that the Maritime Union doesn’t care a fig about the families of the many thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the Port. Those truck drivers who move the containers to and from the port, the customers whose freight sits idle, the shopkeepers who need product and the shopkeppers staff who have to sell those goods. Every time the union shuts down the port they do terrible and long lasting damage to the economy that depends on freight moving through our largest port.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.