After so many weeks of tit-for-tat coverage there is finally some more substantive analysis of the Ports of Auckland conflict emerging. Matthew Dearnaley’s Jobs not wages the issue, claims union simply and clearly outlines the issues at the heart of the dispute - particularly the potential casualisation of the workforce. Similar changes over the last 30 years have negatively impacted mostly low-paid workers which explains why the Maritime Union is resisting the proposals so strongly.
Chris Trotter’s column Port bosses sensitive to show of union power captures the essence of the struggle: "Flexibility" is the watchword - meaning the ability of the employer to call workers in and send them home, as required, without incurring penalty rates of pay. "Flexibility" empowers the employer to hire and fire at will; to raise or lower employees' wages according to the dictates of the market and without reference to the actual living expenses of individual workers and their families.
Denis Welch, in Hard done by, asks why we only seem to hear about the company’s losses during such disputes, not the loss of wages by workers, especially as strike action is ultimately the only leverage workers have when faced with proposals they find unacceptable.
Similarly the call for the Auckland City Council to automatically back the management of the ports company (see Jazial Crossley’s Council urged to step in to port conflict) makes two questionable assumptions. First, that the democratically elected Auckland Council should only concern itself with maximising profits at the expense of its workers, and second, that a confrontational approach to your workforce is good for business – not necessarily so as supermarket owners Progressive Enterprises found out a few years ago.
John Pagani points out the implications of elected representatives regularly taking sides in disputes (see: Fuzzy thinkers tell Brown to back board), something Cameron Slater obviously doesn’t see as a problem (see: Ports Crisis: The roll call).
All political parties seem to agree with Pagani’s line so far and are staying quiet on the dispute, although the Government is likely to refer to it when they push ahead with changes to industrial relations legislation. The actions of strong unions such as the Maritime Union are often used as justification for weakening union rights but, of course, it is the lower paid and less organised workers who are most affected.
The dispute over the Christchurch City Council CEO’s pay rise is getting heated, with Tony Marryatt forced to publicly defend his salary (see: Charlie Gates’ Marryatt defends $68,000 pay rise). The Dom Post is not amused. The forced release of a critical internal report into the Council’s Building Evaluation Team has raised the temperature even more (see: Ben Heather Bob Parker defends council, agency performance).
Pouring petrol on the flames is Dunedin City Councillor Lee Vandervis with a provocative bid for Dunedin to replace Christchurch as the South Island’s main commercial centre - see: Post-quakes rebuild should be in Dunedin.
Other issues include a further report showing how profitable the SOE’s earmarked for sale have been for taxpayers (see Adam Bennett’s Govt's sell off-firms are top performers). Today Bennett also reports that private companies claim state ownership has allowed the SOEs to gouge domestic users - see: SOE power profits 'at expense of consumers'.
Karl du Fresne makes an interesting point about the Food Bill and how a parliamentary consensus appears to be unraveling. He wonders if the lack of media scrutiny during Select Committee hearings (especially since the demise of the NZPA) has meant controversial issues are only being picked up by opposition politicians after they have already taken a position. Today’s Herald editorial calls for the Government to take quick action to head off alarmist opposition. [Continue reading below for a full list of the highlights of NZ Politics Daily]
Ports of Auckland dispute
Matthew Dearnaley (Herald): Jobs not wages the issue, claims union
Chris Trotter (Dom Post): Port bosses sensitive to show of union power
Denis Welch (Opposable thumb): Hard done by
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Ports Crisis – The roll call
John Pagani: Fuzzy thinkers tell Brown to back board
Wayne Thompson (Herald): Fifth strike looms despite shift by Fonterra
Jazial Crossley (Stuff): Council urged to step in to port conflict
Nicholas Jones (Herald): Port row hitting the innocent: lobby
Charlie Gates (Stuff): Marryatt defends $68,000 pay rise
Dom Post: Editorial - Christchurch boss sets poor example
Lee Vandervis (ODT): Post-quakes rebuild should be in Dunedin
Herald: AMI deal unlikely to change
Ben Heather (Press): Bob Parker defends council, agency performance
Steven Cowan (Against the Current): Report blasts council
Inquiry into election turnout
Daniel Adams (Stuff): MP will head probe into election
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Macindoe on the turnout
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Disengagement major cause of low voter turn out
Herald: Editorial - Govt needs to clear up Food Bill doubts
Karl du Fresne: Could someone please tell us what's going on here?
Adam Bennett (Herald): SOE power profits 'at expense of consumers'
Adam Bennett (Herald): Govt's sell off-firms are top performers
James Weir (Stuff): Mystery $1.3b bid to buy NZ asset
Karla Akuhata (Stuff): Revolt brewing against Maori King
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): The fourth way?