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Inside Maritime Union 'biker gang' - sackings for violence, racism

Half of the Maritime Union’s bargaining team were disciplined and two were sacked during collective agreement negotiations with Ports of Auckland (PoAL), NBR Online can reveal.

PoAL’s organisational strategist Rod Lingard (apparently not talking to other media) says a series of disciplinary actions made the union look like a "biker gang" rather than a responsible union in the modern era.

"Of the eight people in the union's bargaining team we have had to discipline four of them," Mr Lingard says.

Stevedores Graham McKean, Craig Harrison, Carl Findlay and Grant Williams were all disciplined by PoAL during the bargaining process. 

Mr McKean was sacked on September 20 for publishing a racist and sexist piece in the union’s national magazine.

His column "mused":

It would be important to have a Pacifica manager in a position of influence for harmonisation - introduce company sports teams that pitch to the interest of the worker demographic and have an attractive and intelligent female organiser and preferably make her a blonde. And since this is just whimsical musing and has no intention, whatsoever, of flipping the middle finger at any mid-management morons, I do kind of hope my wee diatribe shan't stifle my future career prospects.

Mr Harrison was sacked on January 24 after an investigation concluded he made violent threats against a non-union employee and his family, calling the employee a “f**king piece of s**t”. Investigation by the Employment Relations Authority was delayed because of the industrial dispute.

Mr Lingard says Messrs Findlay, the union’s national vice-president, and Williams were both given written warnings.

Mr Findlay was given his final warning after he took a letter from under his manager's locked door using a ruler.

Mr Williams accessed the port’s confidential strategy paper, but Mr Lingard says further disciplinary action ceased because of insufficient evidence.

Another PoAL employee Andrew Angus, a former member of the union's executive, was dismissed after writing the following job application and posting it anonymously under an administrator's door. 

Kia ora bro,

I wish to make application for the the position of ship Leading Hand. I feel too intellegant to drive straddles all my life. If it helps I can do a month or two on the sunbed- My great grandfather was one of the priests for the Island of Tualvau and he taught them bannans grown on trees. 

Yours the Best Billy.T. James

Mr Angus was reinstated while his case was heard by the Employment Relations Authority but was sacked a second time after he was caught on camera throwing a twist-lock under a straddle crane. Twist-locks are used to secure containers together on board ships and can cause straddle cranes to tip if they get caught under their wheels. 

Mr Lingard says a fifth union member, official delegate Dave Phillips, who was not employed by PoAL, was served a trespass notice in December after he entered the port’s mess-room and threatened non-union employees with violence.

Messrs Findlay, Williams and Harrison are all members of the union’s executive.

PoAL chairman Richard Pearson earlier referred to sinister elements at work within the union, but was adamant their days of thuggery and intimidation were over. 

More by Conor O'Brien

Comments and questions

So what

This has nothing to do with the underlying issues. On the contrary, the POAL have constantly lied to the unions and undermined any attempt by them to engage on a fair basis -POAL have had an agenda the whole way through

Leaking this shite to the media will only inflame the already volatile situation.

This is a 50/50 situation - both POAL and the unions have an argument. The problem is is that POAL has one goal no matter what - so stalemate - not very clever POAL.

On the contrary, this shows the level of intellect within the union. The actions of these union officials only reinforces that the union hierarchy is driven by ego and personal agenda, not by the overriding interests of its members. Shame on them! Directors of collapsed finance companies are being held to account for their actions. The MUNZ union officials should be held to account for their actions. They have succeeded in losing the jobs of 292 members because they could not negotiate objectively. Instead they lay the blame anywhere else they possibly can.


Finance company directors being held responsible ??? - you must be joking. the authorities have played around with a few minor finance companies - what about Strategic Finance and Hanover Finance etc

Union Lover - This union is destroying the good work that other unions have made progress with responsible employers to create and enviroment of postive culture for both staff and company??? For that to work at POAL, it has to be a two way road - where is the positive culture at POAL - ah that's right it can only happen if one side ( the unions ) bend over - maybe the POAL need to bend over as well - sorry that is not PC to say such things..

This is going to end in a lot of tears - and the biggest losers will be the companies using the port - not only in Auckland but around NZ as the dispute escalates.

The POAL leakage of information like in this article is so stupid it isn't funny. It is just a PR exercise for the stupid masses to cling onto.

The best result in Auckland would be a complete closure of the port and get rid of the POAL executives/managmenmt and the problem working environment. Imagine the reduction in heavy traffic in central Auckland and on the motorways as the freight is railed to Whangarei and Tauranga. The current port could be a business park and recreational area which would return far more to the Council than port profits.

So Doctor, you would feel comfortable sitting at a table trying to have a constructive conversation with some twat who was on his final written warning? You are supplying more Tui Advert opportunities...

I accept that the comparison to finance company directors was probably a bad analogy, my point was however that the union officials must be held to account for their actions.

One must question the relevance of an organisation that resorts to bullying and intimidation in order to recruit members. Surely once it gets to this point it is no longer serving in the interests of its members, rather the interests of those who control it.

“The best result for Auckland”, as you put it, would be the disbandment of the MUNZ, and the establishment of a union that acts in the best interests of its members.

This information suggests those leading the union do not understand or believe in equality. They do not understand or believe in freedom of association. They do not understand nor do they believe in the notion of good faith.
This must be a concern to the Labour Party. It is heavily reliant on Unions. Perhaps Mr Shearer's stance is enforced with the threat of the bash.

This Dr bloke is not up to it...50/50 my arse. POAL have the right to employ who ever they see fit. They control the port and are accountable to Auckland rate payers, not some bunch of union guys who think POAL should give them jobs for life. Unions are over and have been ever since the 80's. They protect there own jobs ripping the workers off in union subs. Just take a look at the major unions bank accounts and salaries around the country.

i onsider myself a member of a Union. It is called New Zealand.

The Doctor - so what. Do you think this is a reasonable way to act. This union is destroying the good work that other unions have made progress with responsible employers to create and enviroment of postive culture for both staff and company.

Thses guys are getting what they deserve.

And surely Parsloe won't get re-elected. The sacked workers must be really peeved at what has happened, unless of course they break ranks and sign up, therefore getting slightly worse working conditions but a big fat redundancy cheque...

Boy the Union has lost a lot of face in all of this.

Despite many of the good gains in labour laws and standards achieved by unions over the past few decades (which we are all thankful for), unions in NZ are now almost exclusively led bythugs and bullies. This is particularly so with martime and related unions who have always been the most extreme communists ruling with an iron fist like their heroes Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky.

Their time is over and has been accelerated at POAL due to having little self-awareness of their wage package relative to other low skilled workers, or understanding of economic realities.

The thugs and bullies have overplayed their hand, and now are getting everything they deserve. I wish them no luck in their future.

And now back to reality. I never read anywhere that this dispute is all about wages/money. I am led to believe it is all about conditions. Casualised labour enforcement.. A bitter pill for anyone to swallow except you by the sound of it..

The actions of the union members described here, reminds me of 'Communist Agitation Techniques 101' from the 40's and 50's.

The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago guys and mullets and big biker mustaches went out of fashion just around that time too. (Unless you live behind the Iron Curtain that is...). Perhaps they are all trapped in 1988.

Do these fools really want to work? It is inconceivable to me that anyone believes you can behave like this and be worth $97k per year.

Some sense of realism in the union would be a great start.

I don't believe it is good business practice to divulge employee relationship issues and information into the public arena. Management must bear some if not most of the responsibility of workplace culture and relationships. It seems to me by putting out this information that this Rod Lingard is actually acting in the very way that he accuses the Maritime union of doing. To me this article highlights his inability to manage the situation.
Lucky he has an endless supply of Auckland rateplayer funds to play around with. High risk change is always easier with low risk money especially when its not your own.

"A 10% pay increase sounds great, thanks very much."

That would have been a more sensible response.

The Dr obviously works with that rabble on the waterfront.He will no doubt be a union delegate of some sort with a rap sheet of warnings and final warnings. Usually these guys try to take up these roles to protect themselves,there other employment issues. Lets hope he is named and shamed and is not given employment in any port around NZ.

What a pack of greedies - $91k pa for 28 hours work p week and they're not happy! Time they got into the real world.

Doctor, try and take a pill.

The kind of cash these guys are on is 2x the national average with up until now a guaranteed payer as an employer.
Tauranga seems to have survived quite nicely without union leaders allegedly throwing rocks under cranes and inciting violence or racial hatred.

Since when did racial hatred equate to eloquent discourse in this country?

As for unionsbending over if you have no conception of the idea of reasonable negotiation then please dont go in toprint on it.

Better to say nothing and leave people wondering about your intelligence than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Nothing changes for the unionists on the waterfront - a very small minority of leftist egoistic lazy incompetent racist white trash, cunningly manipulating principally blue collar lower intellect workers.

Used to be the white working class in the 50s and 60s. Now it's the brown underclass being manipulated.

And we have the class Maori racist, Willie Jackson, supporting the white trash unionists to continue the manipulation!

Honestly, driving past the port along Tamaki Drive, these strikers do a damn good impersonation of a motley bunch of thugs. All that was missing were the Harleys.

Looks like the current management should also be hacked for allowing a workplace culture like this to develop in the first place.

It appears as if the union leadership only have their own self interests at hand, to try and make themselves relevant again but clearly don't realise that they are impacting on the whole of the NZ economy with the consumer being the losers in all of this with suppliers having to incur more costs moving freight from Tauranga/Whangarei....does that mean when consumer goods prices go up they will strike again and ask for more money so they can pay for those goods?...wake up and smell the roses union leaders.

Doesn't anyone feel that they are being "played" by the POA with this sort of stuff coming out?

The victors in all of this seems to be the PR industry.

There was a noticeable decline in the number of support "toots" the strikers were getting from rush hour traffic when I drove down Tamaki Drive this morning. Realilty may be dawning on the commuters who have to work a 40 hour week rather than the 28 hour one for the wharfies who are picking up $91,000 average for their strenuous efforts.

The rain starts again on Monday so I hope they're enjoying the sunshine before they have to get back to work with a 40 hours a week contractor

Observer: This is a classic example of PR's victory over truth in that we now know that the $91,000 average income for the wharfies is simply untrue. We know now that most regular wharfies only earn $27 an hour, but only 53% of them are guaranteed a 40 hour week. A further 27% are only guaranteed a 24 hour week and the remaining 20% are casual workers that can earn as little as $15 an hour.

Please advise of your source and verification.

Otherwise, there is no credibility.

Fascinating to see who are the union leaders and who are the union workers.

Just like with WW2 - the German generals ordering the foot soldiers to their deaths.

Truth: Trying to find the truth in all of this is exactly what the problem is. To get an idea of just how things have been played, take a look at at Metro's March editorial:

And contemplate the fact that the allegations by a POA staff member on which this discussion is predicated, has since seen the POA media team withdraw his availability for any further media contact, saying he hadn't spoken to them first (see NBR's story link "'Out of control' smear campaign claimed" above)

Truth: Isn't the whole point that Anonymous is making is that there are potential credibility issues with all the information that has been provided and hence the confusion over all of this.

Yet you challenge counter figures while seeming to be quite happy to accept the credibility of the figures originally provided by POA??

I am not supporting one side or the other.

It seems to me that the information provided is rather damning to POA and should be verified. Too easy to throw numbers around.

Must admit that the union tactics of intimidation and disclosures of misdeeds somewhat put them in a really bad light.

Any fair minded New Zealander will be put off by such aggressive behavior.

Maybe we'll find out a bit more about what's true and what's not tonight when Media7 (TVNZ7 at 9.05pm) has both sides on.

Except that those claims haven't been verified aither!

If the claims of union thuggery behavior are untrue, we would have them come back so quickly that it would make a rat running up a sewage pipe look pedestrian! This is libelous stuff with names printed.

Forgive my cynicism, but they have come back. and you're content I assume then also with the leakage of stuff from personnel files?

Is this really the way you want a major business to conduct itself in New Zealand?

All is fair in war and love?

Where did you read of the rebuttal by the unionists?

Hope they sue POA then for untruths.

Look at the NBR newslink someone already referred to above.

Looking from Christchurch with all it's problems I cannot believe what I read and hear from Auckland.Do these men not realize what it is to have a secure sensible job where they understand day by day that all is well and happy with no fears of not having work.They should come to Christchurch and apply for a similar position which they would not get and try and live here and try for a normal life.I think they should all take a COLD SHOWER and re-think their badly depleted thoughts for their future.You do not understand how lucky and well off you all are up there if you have work.

The stuff in that Metro editorial link above looks very damning for POA.

No-one would want to go through what you have been in Christchurch.

But misleading information and emotion can very easily disguise and distort quite important issues.

For example - the Port of Tauranga is tidal and ships must time entrances and exits (the reason why the captain of the Rena wanted to make up time otherwise he would miss the ship's window of opportunity). Thus a system for wharfies that is not a rigid 40 hours makes sense. POA has no equivalent case.

The casualisation of a workforce and having them waiting by a telephone for a call to work provides efficiency, productivity, and profit gains that all businesses would like to enjoy.

But is it what we want for the future employment of staff (workers and management) in New Zealand?

From Christchurch again.In reply to Salamander, I do not understand why waiting for a telephone call to work is a bad thing as I know that all LOADERS as an example at all Airports in NZ wait for the telephone call and work up to 50 hours plus some weeks, at all hours of day and night and I understand that there is not one word said against such work.In fact most enjoy the varied hours and find family life improves.Work is work no matter how you are advised of when and where,just take what is offered.Hell there are so many without work, they would love the opportunity to work aven 20 hours a week no matter when.

Ah ha - the old "they should be grateful they have work" argument that goes along with the "let's bash them while we can" approach.

I honestly thought we had managed to move on from this sort of thing because it simply reverses when times get better and all that happens is everyone suffers.

Is this the most enlightened we can get?

It's a class issue - confirmed by the various comments. Confirmed also by the company using corrosive (so-called left) liberal race/sex political correctness to their ends. Phuck the fine lines! My loyalty goes always to the working class. Gladwin

Thats the Point Jim,,,,the wharfies only work for a small percentage of the time....they hardly resemble working class as we know it.

That could be very dangerous assumption

Its no is published material

If you get a chance read some of the dribble
MUNZ print out in their newsletters. One notable quote is that the "workers are the wealth creators" in amongst all the left wing socialist propaganda. It is hard to believe such dinosaurs exist, that is unless you have had a chance to witness this crap actuallly being lived on Auckland wharves, which I have had the misfortune on a number of occasions.

Umm workers unload the ships, sail the ships, build the ships, make the goods, transport, the goods, sell the goods - how are they not the wealth creators?

I consider myself a member of a Union it is called New Zealand. And I would like to keep it that way for the interest of New Zealanders.

The country, Aotearoa would be a better place and this MaritimeUnion/Ports dispute would be resolved if, WILLIE JACKSON was at the helm - NZ needs to force a General Election because its the government we hav lost confidence in, END OF..!!!

Willie J would speak his mind too much and offend a few people, we cantu have that.

Willie J speaking his mind is good - reveals the real character lurking darkly inside him.

Am expecting him to say soon that child abuse by Maori is culturally ok.

Time to pack up the flags and toys boys and get back to work. It's over and we all know it and you do too. Further legal action may prolong the situation for a while longer, however commercial reality must prevail. We need our ports to work productively and optimally if the nation is to thrive as a whole.

Fascinating piece. Here's my challenge to the NBR why don't you go public with, say, the triuth about Murray NcCully and his ugly misogyny? That's been common knowledge for some time and not one jot of it ever appears in the press. What? You have an agenda? Well, I never...

Mike Smith.

Thanks NBR and Rod Lingard for such ground breaking journalism. I had no idea members of "bikie gangs" carried out such heinous crimes like this - accessing a document on the POA intranet that was available for everyone to access, and in fact was accessed by other port staff members - and using a ruler as a weapon against a defenseless envelope - shocking stuff. I can see why Rod Lingard felt it necessary to release the private HR records of these "thugs & bullies" to the NBR in an "exlclusive" , an act I would have thought is against privacy laws. but thats ok because port management is clearly above the law.