It has been announced that the Ports of Auckland management have signed a collective agreement with the scab union PortPro that was established by 30 strikebreaking stevedores. This is a setback for the Maritime Union, which has been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since August of 2011.
The Ports of Auckland company (POAL) is wholly owned by Auckland Council, run by Labour Party member Mayor Len Brown and Labour-led City Vision ticket councillors. In base treachery these council leaders have been overseeing an attempted re-run of the 1951 defeat of the Auckland wharfies.
Labour’s spokesperson for labour issues, Darien Fenton, has called the Ports of Auckland dispute “some of the worst industrial action we’ve seen in New Zealand for a decade”. That pretty much sums up the difference between those who want to manage the capitalist system, whether Labour or National, and the interests of the working class.
“There must be over five thousand people here!” – that’s the text I got from Gerry Cotterell, a TEU member I’d arranged to meet today, and he was right. We came in our thousands to show our support for striking Maritime Union members. Firefighters, teachers, public servants, supermarket workers: the sea of banners and flags showed the union movement out in support of the wharfies. And, as well as these, there were the flags of Australian and US wharfies’ unions too, the brothers and sisters of MUNZ joining the struggle.
Strike action continues at the Ports of Auckland, after moves by the Board of the Ports of Auckland to axe jobs, outsource work to contractors and turn permanent staff into casual staff. These strikes, organised by the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) are the first on the docks in four years and the largest closure since the 1951 waterfront lockout. MUNZ members are fighting for conditions essential to healthy lives – regular hours and secure work – and their fight is one all workers have an interest in supporting.