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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Industrial Armageddon Looms

Glad I'm not the only one perplexed at Mayor Len Brown's "we're going on a journey" comment I heard on RNZ this morning. Sounded like he was backing the Ports of Auckland to the hilt and, well... fuck the workers. Simon Mercep - the host - repeated the point because he couldn't quite believe the answer either, and Len Brown reiterated it, going on in sterile corporate-speak about driving efficiencies.

In a bull-headed charge to screw out that extra, marginal, slice of efficiency in an already efficient operation - through primarily a lowering of labour costs - the Ports company management has merely managed to destroy what was up until now a very good labour relations environment that kept the port ticking over.

Many of us remember the bad olde days of yore when strikes and stoppages were so routine they could pretty much be scheduled years in advance, but that had changed and the last decade at least was free of any major disruption that I can recall. The management have risked all that good will for what will likely be a very small return or a negative one - especially given the net costs of redundancies and the strike action to date (let alone all the flow on effects to their business and others affected).

In these circumstances it would seem an absolute loss for the Lefty Mayor to come out - as he has - in favour of the ports management and against the workers. And yet that is what he is doing. Not just fence-sitting and observing the official position of the arms-length shareholder under the legislation etc., but going in to bat against the workers, their union, and in support of the ports management. He told RNZ that the unions should have taken the original offer and this wouldn't have happened! If that isn't taking sides... It is quite an astounding turn of events.

It looks like Mayor Brown has just done his dough with Auckland's Left. And as the sides dig in Mayor Brown will be more and more exposed and his natural political allies will be forced to abandon him if he continues to walk in line with the bosses. I note others have expressed the same concern: the activist base that got Len Brown elected are utterly livid and vowing "it's over".

The spill-over is already seeping out into other spheres - and not just restricted to sympathy action by other ports' workers. The large scale public service cuts the Tories are insisting on and other large disputes such as the AAFCO lockout are gathering a head of steam, projecting out to waves of industrial action and a Winter of Discontent.

Mayor Brown and the Labour Party should reflect on Auckland's history here: the 151 days of lockout in 1951 started with the waterfront but took in many other unions, including the City Council staff.


At 8/3/12 6:31 pm, Blogger DebsisDead said...

The betrayal goes even deeper than Brown, a lawyer who no serious humanist activist could consider to be anything other than a fairweather friend to working Kiwis.

The colourless bloke whose name I can never remember, that took over leadership of the parliamentary party finally surfaced this a.m. after a couple of months of silence during which time he was most likely obsessively studying polls, focus group findings and building hisself a comfy spot on the nearest fence.

He appeared to tell working NZers they are on their own.

That the Labour Party is only interested in those kiwis who 'really want to work.'

The "Wasshisname" sellout is a far greater betrayal than what len the legal regal pulled.

With one quick soundbite "Wasshisname" has turned his back on all kiwis unable to get work as well as all those who are unprepared to uncritically accept boss class decisions on 'what is best for them'.
Even lying lenny didn't go that far.

Since the stupidest pollie knows that more than half the 60% of people who responded to the herald's poll with a tick in the "port authorty has made the correct decision sacking it's loyal workers" box wouldn't vote labour if their life depended on it, it is safe to conclude that this new labour leader is cut from the same cloth as so many other bourgeois joiners of proletariat political movements.

They would rather appeal to their closet conservative values and lose, than have their old uni mates consider them 'radical' for supporting ordinary kiwis and winning.

The shrill anti-humanist hysteria that NZ media have been pumping out in unison for the last few years could easily be combated by concerted appeals for citizens to observe the reality of neo-liberal economics.

But these bourgeois hangers on don't do hard work. They mostly joined the labour party in the 70's. By that time all the hard work of illuminating the dissonance between conservative media claims of how the world was and the reality of working Kiwis' existence had been done.
Back then even the Herald was careful to undermine humanism by damning with faint praise, rather than losing credibility by dragging out lies which the majority of readers knew to be bullshit.

Those trite arguments about the unemployed being bludgers, or, that lock-outs were an essential tool to combat union determination to sabotage capitalism, have resurfaced. Because it has been too long since anyone has accurately represented life at the pointy end of neo-liberalism.

Now that those original educators of the people have died out, the middle class parasites who joined labour because it seemed an easier ride into parliament, cannot understand that they need to get back to the basics of demonstrating exactly what it means to try and feed a family on the pittance that most working kiwis earn.

No,No,- too hard.

It makes more sense to torch the natural support base and fight with conservatives for the narrow spectrum of voters who believe the neo-liberal claptrap.
Why? Cause the mob of middle class pakehas who dominate the labour party don't sound any more credible when they interact with working kiwis than jonkey did visiting McGechan Close back in the dying days of the Clark govt.

It its own way what went down today was a bigger betrayal of ordinary kiwis than any stunt the Prebble/Douglas/Lange troika pulled.

At 8/3/12 9:05 pm, Blogger Nervous from Down South said...

hmm, not sure he actually said that the union should have taken the first offer... that's beside the point though - this is a very sorry business


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