The start of an extended strike today by Waterfront workers over the Port of Auckland’s determination to casualise or contract out the jobs of its workforce means everyone loses.
Port workers and their families will lose incomes, businesses will be disrupted, other workers will be affected and the Auckland economy will take a hit at a time when we least need it.
Last week, there was a call from a group of influential Auckland business interests and the CTU for a modern approach to employment relations which maintains an efficient and productive Port, retains decent jobs and is not part of the race to the bottom. This was refreshing and gave hope of a solution.
But I wasn’t that impressed with Council CEO Doug McKay’s comments at the recent Council meeting where he said :
But I keep reminding Len, and I have been in a commercial environment in this sort of situation a few times over the years, that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, and the people have to feel like they can almost go to the brink and look over it before they come back.
This isn’t about making omelettes or brinkmanship, although Doug McKay‘s done plenty of it in his time.
Resolution of this dispute needs good will, determination and good faith bargaining. And it will require compromise.
Auckland Council should reconsider its unrealistic demand for a 12% return on capital, Ports management should withdraw their take it or leave it plans to contract out or casualise jobs and the union has repeated its offer to make changes to work practices and its collective agreement that will improve labour utilisation rates.
Broken eggs won’t do it.