Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What the Ports of Auckland dispute is about

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson has responded to the port worker's latest offer of a modest wage rise coupled with productivity improvements by threatening to casualise the entire workforce. Which shows despite the port's public rhetoric, this dispute isn't really about increasing the efficiency of the port. Instead, its about control and casualisation - and therefore ultimately about cuts to wages and conditions, about ruining people's lives and livelihoods in order to increase profits (and gain fat bonuses for "improved performance", of course). And Len Brown supports this. Its nice to know which side he's on.

As for Gibson, his behaviour - his refusal to negotiate, his swanning about on holiday rather than trying to solve the dispute, his reaction of rage to anything less than complete surrender, and now his threats - call to mind a certain personality type. And the consequence of that insistence on complete and utter control has been a loss of business for the company he manages, and a loss of value for its shareholders, the people of Auckland. They should hold him accountable for that. Sadly, given the way modern corporate governance insulates management from any real control, that seems unlikely.