Friday, 9 March 2012

Now you've come to the hardest time

While the details of the Ports of Auckland dispute get a bit complicated - at its core it is incredibly simple. The union isn't making demands for better wages and conditions (and I'd support them if they did).  The Port, as the employer, demanded massive changes aimed at casualising the workforce.  The union refused to

Casualisation is a serious threat to workers' income - not knowing how many hours you're going to work each week . As this video demonstrates it also has a huge impact on workers lives.  One of the conditions port workers are trying to hold onto is the right to have one weekend off in three.

But from the employers point of view it's also about power - the employer has far more power over a casualised work-force than they do with a permanent one.   

The actions of Ports of Auckland are not just a threat to port workers.  If Ports of Auckland win, then more employers will follow.  Secure hours are one of the most basic and important work conditions.

It's not over.  In shipping time is money (that's why those in charge of the Rena charted a quicker course).  There's six weeks until the redundancies can actually happen legally and all sorts of industrial action that can happen before then. And after that they'll still need people to work the port - and if they can't get scabs the containers.  

So support and solidarity are incredibly important, not just for the wharfies, but for all our jobs.  The union's campaign site is


Ports of Auckland are not the only major industrial action at the moment.  AFFCO (owned by the Talleys family) has locked out meatworkers across the country, they're also demanding casualisation and a roll back of wages and conditions.  Oceania rest home workers have been on  strike seeking a  pay increase (the companies offer is currently zero for the first year).

At CMP meatworkes union withstood the company's demands for lower wages and casualisation.  They received huge solidarity and support.  The employers may be on the rampage, but they can be resisted - together.


Beerbaron said...

Meanwhile Whaleoil has actually gone down to the port and talked to the workers there...and the verdict is good riddance to the selfish,greedy union parasites.

Maia said...

So the best the right has got to bash port workers with is they've got a ping-pong table and can check facebook - why would they need fixed hours?

I'm not accepting any more port workers bashing bullshit comments on this post. I'm a 'what side are you' on kind of a woman - and this is crunch time.

Brett Dale said...

If the unions are using bully tactics, threats of violence, screaming out "filth and scum" to people who wont join the union, they need to be called up on it.

Brandy Alexander said...

Maia. Just because someone has a different perspective to you, doesn't mean that they want to "bash workers". I am so grateful to port workers for what they do.

There are a group of people who think that unions don't necessarily operate in the best interests of the workers' they claim to represent. You seem to be under the impression that invariably, union= good. Unfortunately, many people's experiences do not support this contention.

Example - many moons ago, my Dad trained as a fitter and turner and the union which he was obliged to join actually tried to stop him from pursuing further training & attending Polytech. They did not have his best interests at heart at all.

If you have had fixed hours and wages & the security which a fixed employment agreement brings, I can understand that you would be disgruntled to have this taken away from you. The problem is that theunions trying to maintain the status quo are actually doing the workers a disfavour.

The point that people seem to be missing is that NO job is really "secure", regardless of employment law protections being in place. This point has become particularly salient in the midst of an economic recession.

In order to employ people, a business actually has to turn a profit and remain competitive. So-called "casualisation" actually means that employers can improve productivity, keep their hiring costs down, and improve the chances of the business prospering - thus ensuring that workers will actually have jobs in the long run.

This isn't about bashing workers at all.