Alf hadn’t taken too much notice of the brouhaha at Ports of Auckland, where the Maritime Union is bridling against the bosses’ highly commendable aim of having more work done on a contract basis.
But the merits of what the bosses are trying to do were clearly illustrated in a media statement from the union which landed in Alf’s e-mail in-tray yesterday.
It was headed Port workers will leave New Zealand if jobs outsourced.
As a true-blue Nat whose attitudes to unions have been honed in a rural community, this strikes Alf as an eminently attractive proposition.
Hence the union – maybe unwittingly – is making a strong case for the company to stick to its guns and press on with contracting out, or increased casualisation, or whatever you care to call it.
But was the heading misleading?
Here’s the first sentence of the media statement:
The Maritime Union says many port workers will simply leave the country and go overseas if their jobs are contracted out by Ports of Auckland management.
Let’s hope this is a promise and not just an empty threat.
But where will they go?
Alas, not far.
Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says workers at the Port are telling him that if the Ports of Auckland continues to attack its own workforce, they’ll go somewhere where they can get a better deal – like Australia.
He says that Ports of Auckland management are in dreamland if they think that highly skilled, capable workers will hang around to be employed on poor terms and conditions, and chaotic shift work patterns that will destroy their family life.
The union media statement has given the port company further incentive to press ahead with its contracting out plans.
The union is challenging the bosses to prove it wrong.
Mr Parsloe says the enormous investment that has been made in training a skilled workforce will be wasted if workers leave the port.
He says the obvious effect of contracting out at Ports of Auckland is the creation of a casualized workforce with a collapse in skills, safety standards and conditions of employment.
Parsloe is also banging on about “a serious issue” in New Zealand of employers attempting to boost profits by slashing wages and conditions of employment.
He reckons the Ports of Auckland dispute is “a classic example of this trend”.
“You aren’t going to get a productive, high skill economy based on continually reducing wages, undermining conditions and ordering people to work around the clock when and if the employer feels like it.”
One way to find out is to suck it and see
For good measure, Alf reckons there’s a strong case for taxpayers to stump up the fares to get the unionists to Australia.
The consequence, by his reckoning, should be a lift in productivity on this side of the Tasman and a fall in productivity on the other side.
Must have a natter with Bill English about this…