The Manufactured Crisis at Ports of Auckland and why did Len Brown walk into it?
There are 3 things the National Party Government of John Key do better than anyone else in the game;
1: They understand that the working poor hate the beneficiary poor with the same vitriol of racists and play to the demons of the working poor's worst nature by bennie bashing for votes.
2: They play a tactic of suggesting policy to the right of Genghis Khan then 'pull back' to make the policy look like they've listened to give it the gloss of 'moderation'. If our mainstream media weren't still on honeymoon with John Key, this tactic would be shown up for what it is, sadly it's been used time and time again (suggesting Great Barrier for mining when Key never had any intention of mining Great Barrier, suggesting sending solo mothers back to work weeks after the birth of their beneficiary spawn and ending jury trials for 2 years imprisonment rather than 3 years).
3: And the third thing that the National Party Government of John Key do better than anyone else in the game is manufacture a crises for political gain, and that is exactly what we are seeing in this latest attempt to privatize the Ports of Auckland.
ACC was privatised by a manufactured crises against the advice of Pricewaterhouse Coopers for the Australian Insurance shark industry who stand to make a $200 million killing, and let's not forget how embarrassed the mainstream media were left feeling after being played so terribly by John Key over the manufactured crises of the Hobbit once the emails were released showing it was never the Actor's Union who were the reason for that extra corporate welfare for Warners Brothers, Emails undermine studio's claims aboutHobbit
We are now seeing the same manufactured crises tactics blaming the Unions to justify the selling off of Ports of Auckland, the story sung so far and dutifully carried by the mainstream media is that greedy warfies are once again threatening the economic viability of the country with their unrealistic wage demands blah blah blah.
As Matt McCarten brilliantly pointed out in the Herald on Sunday yesterday, the truth of what the Union are asking for is far from the manufactured crises spin...
First, a wharfie on 40 hours a week gets $56,000. The hourly rate is $27. With overtime, some can earn up to $71,000. The union says that to earn $91,000, a worker would have to work additional overtime equal to 32 weeks fulltime in a year.
Second, a statement from Gibson to his employees in September said the rate of cargo unloaded off ships is "the best ever recorded at the Ports of Auckland". The union says the port is the second most time-efficient in Australasia, next to Tauranga. The advantage Tauranga has is not its workforce, but the system it uses. The union has offered to assist implementing that system in Auckland.
Third, what hasn't been spelled out is that Gibson from the start demanded fulltime employees become on-call casuals and agree to daily shifts between two and 12 hours.
When the union negotiators pointed out that half of the workforce were part-timers and casuals so he already had enough flexibility, Gibson responded by saying this was his "best and final offer". He followed up by offering existing casual employees permanent jobs paid at 10 per cent more than the union rate, provided they resigned from the union.
Chris Trotter tears at the heart of the issue in the Dom Post by pointing out what the bosses are actually calling for...
It is in defence of their self-determined pace and rhythm of work and its critical importance to the health and safety of workers on and off the job that the members of MUNZ employed by POA have struck. The bitter experience of other workers across New Zealand has taught them that the moment the union's central role in determining the working conditions of its members is surrendered, then it ceases to be a union. It may still collect dues and celebrate May Day, but by facilitating the full restoration of managerial prerogatives on the "shop floor" it isthe employer's creature - not the workers'.
The unimpeded exercise of managerial prerogative is what lies at the heart of all great industrial disputes. "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. "Flexibility" imposes on every worker an inescapable obligation to "give", while conferring upon every employer an unchallengeable right to "take".
...what the POA are calling for is the slashing of the Maritime Union throats, and they are calling for it in the knowledge that it will provoke a response from MUNZ which will lead to the justification to start discussing the selling off of the Ports as the only economically viable way to recoup the industrial action costs which POA have provoked.
That Len Brown has been so easily manipulated into getting sucked into this debate on the side of the bosses suggests his political advisors are either morons or Len has already glimpsed the sale of the Ports and is on board with the sale for whatever politically expedient reason has popped up this month.
The Supercity was rammed through Parliament under a misuse of urgency by Rodney Hide and the National Party for one reason, and one reason only, to flog off the assets of Auckland City with as much haste as humanly possible. The election of Len Brown rather than John Banks has put a fly in that ointment, but the privatization agenda has reset as a manufactured crises and the slow drip justification we will start to see over Summer will be every inch as manipulated as the Hobbit fiasco.
The only question is will the mainstream media be as ashamed of their handling of this latest union bashing hysteria as they were when the Hobbit emails were released.