The Winners and Losers of the 2012 Port lockout
It all looked so easy last year.
Except it hasn't worked has it?
The announcement that PoAL have been forced to back down on their draconian union crushing agenda is a massive blow to those forces trying to use Key's second term to dismantle labour laws and privatize public assets. As the dust starts to settle and the backpedaling by the right kicks off, let's quickly acknowledge the winners and losers from this waterfront battle which may decide the war by inadvertently breathing life back into the NZ Union movement.
CEO Tony Gibson: Oh he has failed his masters of the Sith hasn't he? The poster boy for boss power who decided to conflate an industrial action into an attempt to destroy the union has come unstuck. The long lasting damage he has created on his own waterfront is a self mutilation that serves no purpose because Tony and the PoAL fought this for ideological, not economic reasons. In every great drama, the Machiavellian puppeteers need a fall guy, and Tony played that role. Tony probably thought he was fighting for 'flexibility' the way Anakin Skywalker thought he was fighting for Padmé Amidala. Talking with those who were in the room against him, it seems he wasn't the problem, but he'll take the blame for it's failure.
Chairman Richard Pearson:
Imagine the CIA, Fox News and Sauron's personal guard all rolled into one and hey presto you have Richard Pearson, the dark power behind Gibson's throne. The Standard did the best examination of Pearson's Port privatization background...
Pearson was Hutchisons Port Holdings’ man when they attempted a joint-takeover the Port of Lyttelton in 2006. Hutchinson Port Holdings is owned by Li Ka-Ching and Pearson has held senior management and board positions on many of Ka-Ching’s companies. He is a trusted lieutenant and is known to get things his own way. There are many capitalists, including Li Ka-Ching, lining up to get their hands on New Zealand’s state owned enterprises as they come onto the block.
They will be able to turn a quick buck once they have restructured the operation, reduced pay rates and eliminated “bureaucracy”.
Pearson, Gibson and Impey are steering PoAL into a death spiral to force privatisation so they can get their grubby hands on a cheap deal. Kill the business, force Auckland Council to put it on the block and then Ka-Ching buys it on the cheap and KA-CHING big profit!
...Pearson is the brains behind this industrial dispute but is one of the minor losers here. I say minor because Gibson will take the brunt of this where as Pearson will continue to quietly plot in the back ground.
His weak response and ability to be manipulated by the right wing blogs means Len could be chump change to the left now. He sought the vote of the working class to get elected but did little for them when their jobs were under threat and his Councils push for a 12% return that was impossible to make won't be forgotten. Who the bloody hell vetted Len for the left anyway? Did anyone actually realize that Brown as Mayor of South Auckland had contracted out all the Council services? He's pulled the same stunt here, expect a new left candidate to challenge Brown at the next election because 'anyone but Banks' has limitations.
You would have thought that after they got it so wrong with the manufactured crisis at the Hobbit that the mainstream media would have paused before siding with the bosses with the usual 'militant union' meme over this manufactured Ports crisis. You would have thought so, but they didn't. Willie Jackson's angry comments were paraded through the newspapers with all the authority of the 10 commandment stone tablets while breathless journalists informed NZ that some of the warfies called scab workers naughty names.
The NZ Herald, a newspaper with a shameful history of anti-union bigotry dating back to the 1951 lockout, at first tried to claim only 1500 people marched at last months protest and then had to the 'update' that figure the next day to 3 500 after TVNZ went on record with 5000.
The under resourced news rooms of NZ were predictably led by the right wing attack blogs and the level of influence they allowed some bloggers to gain over the daily news agenda at times seemed more cheering crowds at the Colosseum than a functioning fourth estate.
Ultimately it will be the NZ economy that gets damaged by this fiasco. As Idiot/Savant astoundingly pointed out, the bloody Council didn't even know what the cost of this madness was, so Robert Winter crunched the numbers himself...
2011 Operational revenue $175.4 million divided by 365 days
= approx. $480,000 daily operational revenue
Let's assume (generously) that the port is working at 15% of capacity as a result of the dispute:
= approx. $408,000 daily operational revenue loss
Additional costs as an effect of the dispute (legal fees, consultancy advice, extra security, research charges, PR costs), guessed at $20,000 daily:
= immediate losses about $430,000 daily (lost operational revenues plus extra costs). The real figure is probably higher.
So, let's assume that the dispute will go on at least until May 16th (unless the management strtaegy folds, which is likely):
49 days (from today) at $430,000 daily = $21.1 million losses
...so that is the direct cost, the cost to the wider economy however will be in the knock-a-point-off-GDP scale. The PoAL management should be arrested for crimes against the economy. As Rod Oram pointed out in one of the few fair reviews of this dispute, the Competition Commission pointed to the costs shipping lines charge us as the major source of our Ports being uncompetitive, not waterfront labour practices.
LOSERS & WINNERS
There are a few agents in this that walk out with a win and a loss.
NZ doesn't have much of a media voice for right wing Christianity, however Radio Rhema stepped into the dispute with dirty gutter journalist tactics that have sealed them a new reactive audience. Playing a phone message complaining about treatment of on air content by the CTU President is as low as it gets in terms of professional ethics so that is a definite loss to Radio Rhema, but its self righteous play at balance by using tactics like this is Christian radio it's most Fox News. With the Conservative Party gaining over 2% there is defiantly a hard Christian right that wants representation. The days of Radio Rhema being a sleepy old God squad station are over, welcome to the new snarling right wing version.
Slater get's one gain here followed by a vast loss. The one gain has been the new Christian right wing audience he has gained by a regular slot on Radio Rhema, the dear love has hilariously taken to posting daily proverbs on his blog site. He certainly reflects the love of Jesus doesn't Cam? That gain however has to be up against the repugnance the rest of the mainstream media felt towards him after he played black ops for Ports of Auckland by publishing the details of the personal suffering of a wharf whose wife had died. As I pointed out at the time...
The final eye rolling part of this is that Cameron Slater uses his own personal circumstances with depression as any excuse to throw his toys if they are mentioned, yet he is so gleeful in using others personal circumstances to damn them. Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to define his actions here.
He is the wolf who cries boy.
...if one wished to be satirical, one would suggest the way Cam was left to play on his own with these sets of matches doesn't show the PoAL are responsible employers at all. Cam's reputation has taken a battering and the manner in which his involvement has escalated the faction war within National will have many insiders questioning his level of access within the Party. As I noted yesterday,
To paraphrase Batman Dark Knight for National Party strategists - some bloggers just want to see the world burn.
The horny-handed sons of toil walk out of this with a massive (albeit expensive) victory. By internationalizing this conflict with solidarity from over seas Unions, the threat to blacklist Auckland as a Port was a mutually assured destruction PoAL didn't factor in. A large scale win for their members and a sudden realization by those workers who are not in the Union why they should be.
Helen Kelly and the CTU:
The main mistake of the PoAL was they mistook who they thought they would be fighting on this battlefield. PoAL believed that they had the measure of MUNZ but utterly underestimated Helen Kelly and the CTU who once legally engaged, tore strips off the PoAL's claims of good faith bargaining. The CTU managed to provide a counter media perspective in the form of Kelly who could articulate a different perception of the Union that defused the black ops spin from the right wing attack blogs.
With Labour hiding behind Pagani's strategy to step to the right, Kelly became the de facto leader of the opposition and could front foot criticism at the Mayor. This battle has forged a movement and leadership as the reality of what a low wage economy allows in terms of working conditions has sunk in to the rest of the NZ work force.
If this is the brutality of the boss man when the business is owned by a Council, what the hell could they do if they owned the company themselves? The pedestal we put businessmen upon has tilted in such a way that it makes militant response look justified.
The counter productive impacts of this failed Port putsch can't be calculated right now, it will be seen in 2014.