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Saturday, August 04, 2012

Blogging and the art of war

Worker wants port's apology for leaking details of wife's death
One of the Ports of Auckland strikers wants a public apology after leaked private information about his wife's death became a weapon in the industrial action early this year.

Crane driver Cecil Walker said his union delegate had received an email from the Privacy Commission which indicated the port was responsible for the leak.

The commission had sought feedback from port management - a step taken when it reaches an adverse finding.

Personal details about the 2008 death of Mr Walker's wife, Michelle, were published on the Whaleoil website after he was featured in a radio interview during the strike, including the amount of leave he took during her illness and details of the port's efforts on behalf of the Walkers and their three children.

Mayor Len Brown, acting for port owners Auckland Council, previously put the port company on notice jobs were on the line over the leak. Last night, a spokesman for Mr Brown said he had asked for a briefing from Auckland Council Investments Ltd, the port-owning council body.

I think that the use of a hard right blogger in fighting a labour dispute this year was one of the most destabilizing events in recent NZ labour relations.

Post the crypto-fascist water front lock out blot on our industrial relations history, Employers and Unions would battle out negotiations one on one with the odd terse comment given to the media or loud hour long protests at lunch time. Certainly there were exceptions to that, but on the whole, both sides accepted a certain level of restraint in disputes where workers and bosses still eventually had to work together again.

Bringing in anonymous third party 'tipsters' to a blog as hard right as Whaleoil was a dangerous and harmful escalation of menace that went well beyond legal and ethical standards.

Turning up to a fist fight with a semi-sutomatic weapon is dishonorable and exploiting the grief of a worker by illegally releasing his private work history to the feral sewer of the far right blogosphere is hideously unethical.

It is interesting to note that one of the PR consultants to the Ports of Auckland went on to work for Tally's Affco around the time Whaleoil started attacking the Meat Workers Union.

When entering disputes, Employers must ask themselves if such tactics are likely to create a backlash that tarnishes them in the future the way it is about to tarnish the Ports of Auckland and the way allowing 5000 kids to go hungry for months tarnished Tally's/Affco.

The accidental friendly fire killing of Nick Smith burnt fingers for National when they fed far right blogs, Employers should perhaps consider that lesson.



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