Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fun and games at Ports of Auckland

This is a centre left blog and as such you might expect me to support everything the NZ Labour party does, or for that matter unions, decriminalisation of dope ( oh hang on I do support that with some proviso's ) etc, etc, etc. One of my must read blogs ( to steal from Farrar ) is the often acerbic, frequently above my head and always entertaining Cactus Kate who exposed the absolute rort that is the industrial action instigated by the Maritime Union against the Port of Auckland. From Catus Kate's blog

" Inflexibility's and old-fashioned work practices mean that labour utilisation at POAL is approx. 65% compared to approx. 80% at Port of Tauranga:
POAL’s crane drivers and deck foremen work on average 5.33 hours for every 8 paid
Straddle drivers work an average 6 hours out of every 8 paid."

Jaw dropping yet ? Here is some more from Cactus.

" Average wage for a full time stevedore at POAL was $91,480 ".

That is not a bad  wage. I have never driven a straddle or a crane. I have driven two types of fork lifts though when I was a varsity student and it wasn't hard work, or for that matter hard to learn. Hilariously  the union wanted us to join and demanded that we were trained to drive fork lifts or not allowed to, we pointed out that we were already unionised as members of the Otago University Students Association and as such were already covered and part of the " brotherhood ". It worked.

I worked that job for 4 years I started as soon as I left school at 17 and fiished when I started full time work  post university every holiday  and on Saturdays in term I had a job but I remember very well being called into the manager of the wharehouse office on one Saturday in term and shown the well you fucked up stats. My usual stuff up was three per week until my last week of work before going back to university when it jumped to 15. The average stuff up was about 8 per week ie I sent a retailer 440 gram Watties baked beans when I was meant to send spaghetti.

So my point is when your employer spots a problem ( the student job search guys, we  stopped concentrating in the last week ) and points it out rather than striking you might want to think about it. It is no secrete I am in the maritime industry and what I am hearing is that " piss pots" are not on so if a straddle driver needs to pee he / she doesn't have to do it in a pot instead he can radio in his position and a van will collect him / her and transport him / her to Head Quarters and she/ he will pee. And then be returned to the straddle. An evolution of about 1/2 an hour.

The "piss pot's" on offer are not buckets but porta-loo's with running water, toilet paper etc. It gets better.

Not PC  points out.

At the end of the day what the Maritime Union leaders want at the Ports is more power and prestige for themselves. Yet for some reason those outside the Union whose incomes are reduced by their actions can still be heard offering support. They should listen to William Jevons, who concluded:
“The Unionist overlooks the fact that the cause to which he is so faithful, is only the cause of a small exclusive class; his triumph is the injury of a vastly greater number of his fellow-workmen, and regarded in this point of view, his cause is a narrow and selfish one, rather than a broad and disinterested one. The more I
admire the perseverance, the self-forgetfulness, the endurance, abstinence, and a hundred other good qualities which English workmen often display during the conduct of a great trade dispute, the more sincerely do I regret that so many good qualities should be thrown away, or rather misused, in a cause which is too often a hurtful one to their fellow-men.”
At a time when jobs are scarce, money is short and everyone is having to tighten their belt, perhaps all sides might reflect on that.

The problem is I can't disagree with  what he says. The Maritime Union will achieve its objectives at the expense of struggle street New Zealand, those on a minimum wage the very people we on the centre left should be looking out for.


  1. "The rabbits became strange in many ways, different from other rabbits. They knew well enough what was happening. But even to themselves they pretended that all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear; and that struck here and there, never enough at a time to drive them away. They forgot the ways of wild rabbits. They forgot El-ahrairah, for what use had they for tricks and cunning, living in the enemy's warren and paying his price"

  2. ABc
    sorry that should be ABC