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.