In a way, you can’t blame the wharfies for putting up the fight they are at the Ports of Auckland. I mean if you were being paid to do nothing, you would be looking to hang on to the deal, wouldn't you?
Eight hours pay, three hours work - good on them for getting the deal. God only knows who was thick enough to sign it off, but the game’s up. The port is lacklustre. it’s losing business and money to other ports. Its reputation isn’t flash and at long last they’re looking to get things tidied up.
The wharfies have lost. They don’t have the support of the company, of the council which owns them, they certainly don't have the support of the Auckland ratepayers who are watching a company they own get destroyed, and they don’t have the support of the wider public. Through all the bluster and hot air and jibes at management pulled directly out of Arthur Scargill’s handbook on how to run a class ridden industrial dispute, they have been seen for what they are - a fiefdom on a deal from another age refusing to be realistic.
"The wharfies have lost" Yes; that's certainly how it seems. Some on the Left continue to see a conspiracy by the employer, we reckon that's Winston Peters stuff; trying to manufacture a conspiracy where none exists. Sure; the employer wants greater flexibility from its workforce, which is the employer's right. But flexibility has been on the table throughout this dispute.
And Auckland mayor Len Brown doesn't escape either; read on:
Even Len Brown doesn't back them. The man who took their money to get elelcted sees it for what it is. He should have been playing a far greater role before it ever got to the state it’s in. Ports of Auckland is a major company with a major contribution to the economy of the biggest city in the country and it's operating in a time warp. Business is leaving - Maersk has walked, Fonterra’s gone.
Where’s the council? The owners? The representatives of all the rate payers who have a stake in the business? The dividends are a joke compared to Tauranga. Do they think the port is a welfare scheme? A jobs programme? Why aren’t they demanding better performance and better returns? The answer is there - lay them off. Too many strikes, too many lock outs, too much disruption. Get rid of them and find some people that actually want to do the job.
Quite so; Len Brown was happy to take MUNZ's donation to his campaign fund, but that does not tie him into unconditional support of the union when their demands threaten the viability of the ports company which he indirectly oversees. Brown is a clever enough bloke to see the bigger picture. That of course hasn't stopped the Left from demonising Brown as a class traitor and a scab.
PoAL doesn't escape either as Hosking concludes:
No one operates under deals like the wharfies anymore and the fact it’s still causing trouble in 2012 is not only an indictment on the union’s selfishness and greed, but the management and council’s inability to operate a modern business in a way its shareholders would expect.
PoAL has drawn a line in the sand, with support of the mayor of Auckland. It will be interesting to see the Left-leaning Auckland council's reaction once it meets to be briefed on the issue. Certainly Cr Cathy Casey will be conflicted; does she support the mayor, or will she be more loyal to her union affiliates and partners?
But Hosking has hit the nail on the head here; the working conditions enjoyed by the union are archaic, and render PoAL uncompetitive when compared to a port like Tauranga which has embraced a more modern and collaborative approach. There seems little chance of compromise at Auckland, and whilst both sides will lose battles, it will be the Maritime Union and its members who lose the war.