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Ports of Auckland lifts lock-out amid board rift

Ports of Auckland has lifted its lockout notice, allowing stevedores back to work to alleviate the city’s “severely affected” supply chain after revealing a rift over strategy in its boardroom had resulted in the resignation of director Rob Campbell.

Chief executive Tony Gibson, who has copped some criticism over his strategy to contract out wharf workers, got the backing of the board for what appears to be a fresh approach, involving returning the unionised workforce to the port as quickly as possible and placing the outsourcing objective “on hold”.

Chairman Richard Pearson, who unions have accused of being “out of control” in the long-running saga, said the board was “fully supportive” of the approach announced today, just under two hours after a statement confirming Campbell’s departure.

Maritime Union members will return to work no later than Good Friday, April 6, and continue to be paid in the interim. The port is also going back into talks with the union to try to get the “changes we need through a new collective”.

The port appears to have bowed to pressure from its owners also, saying in today’s statement that is “has listened to the wishes of the court, as well as the views of the mayor and all other stakeholders”.

Gibson said the company “was going back to the bargaining table with a fresh determination to talk to MUNZ and get the collective the port needs to operate efficiently”.

But Gibson signalled the move was only a temporary reprieve for workers because the port is still determined to overhaul “historic work practices and restrictions” that have undermined Ports of Auckland’s competitiveness.

The contracting proposal “is still there, but for now it is on hold”, he said.

Pearson accepted Campbell’s resignation, saying the decision came from “differences in views on board strategies”.

The board declined further comment and Campbell didn’t immediately return calls.

The port’s shareholder Auckland Council Investments Limited (ACIL) will appoint Campbell’s replacement. Mayor Len Brown wrote to ACIL yesterday setting out the Auckland Council’s expectations of the port owner in the dispute.

Today’s change of tack by the port company comes a day after Employment Court Judge Barry Travis granted an injunction to prevent the port pursuing its desire to contract out the workforce, saying “the overall justice of the case required the defendant (Ports of Auckland) be prevented from exercising its dismissal proposals until its right to be able to do so, in light of the statutory requirements, is dealt with by the substantive hearing”.

That hearing is now set down for May 16, with Auckland Chambers of Commerce head Michael Barnett calling for efforts to bring the date forward because of the escalating cost of the dispute for Auckland businesses.

“With settlement now unlikely until at least late May, the dispute is no longer just about the Port and the Maritime Union. It is becoming an issue affecting the health of many thousands of businesses directly and of the New Zealand economy as a whole,” he said, citing price increases announced this week by affected port customers.

“Between now and mid-May there is a likelihood of further cost and price increases associated with the dispute that will run into many millions of dollars.”

Maritime Union workers had been due to return to work last week after the port’s legal strategy collapsed in the Employment Court, but the port issued a lockout notice immediately afterwards and reasserted its intention to seek competitive stevedoring services.

Comments and questions

Fire the board, fire Gibbs and get back to business with realistic ROI targets that havent been plucked from thin air by bureaucrats with no idea.

Such a shame POAL has given in to communist thuggery from the unions. They blinked first - and now they've lost. They should have stuck to their plans to contract out.

So when the union uses the proper court processes the right wing claim it is communist thuggery?

Oh puleeez!

Yes, Boo they should tuck to their guns. But first maybe do some intelligent research and develop a wise strategy. Instead, the POAL havebeen devious, stupid and focused on personl again (with the privatisation of the port).

A poor state of affairs - if the figures stacked up on going to casual labour-the figures would be everywhere.....this is quite simply an ideological dispute & the motives are not as clear a people would think.

This board is truly incompetent - I think maybe they have to look in a mirror to see the real causes of the port's poor performance.

The reason Tauranga is more productive and successful than Auckland is because they use the casual system Auckland wants to use - but can't because the unions don't want to pull their snouts out of the trough. Simple. And sad.

So, would you work 'casual system' with uncertainty of income, days off........ Oh you can work today but only two hours. Tomorrow, well maybe there will be work, then again perhaps next week you could come along and we'll see if we can use you. Hardly a steady job or income.

That Tony Gibson needs to stop flashing his watch, doing "boxing" training at the gym, and instead start acting like a CEO and do hsi job.

christ sake, they should have all been sacked, they are a bunch of lazy p****s hiding behind antiquated union policys which is destroying the value of this public company. I wish as a self employed person i could work 26hours per week, on a go slow pace and get paid for 40 hours. about time they stuck their placards up their butts and got real about working!

Plenty of time to write meaningless drivel on bulletin boards though it seems...

Can you tell me where I can find these in the ERA? - "antiquated union policys"

ha ha ha ha you are a joke!

POA management are the only thing about to ship out, not any containers.

What's the difference between Tony Gibson and his flash watch?

His watch knows when its time is up.

I think it's time for both Pearson and Gibson to resign their positions, and take up something better suited to their abilities. Perhaps cleaning the toilets or removing the garbage.

I don't know about cleaning the toilets, but they are certainly trying to take out the garbage....

What's the difference between Tony Gibson fighting his "boxing" trainer and fighting with the union?

The union isn't being paid to let him win.

Are people being paid for the time they are on srike ????

Why did the board cross the road?

It was just time for yet another flip flop.

>> So, would you work 'casual system' with
>> uncertainty of income, days off........
>> Hardly a steady job or income.

My understanding is, that shifts were to be scheduled a month in advance -- with 160 hours pay a month, guaranteed.

If my job is in a corner dairy, I expect to work when the customers are there. Not be paid to twiddle my thumbs.

I thought these workers claimed to want to spend time with their families. Not hang out with their blagging union mates.

"I expect to work when the customers are there. Not be paid to twiddle my thumbs."

So lets casualise the military, police, fire service, amulance service, ........... and anyone else who has to sit around waiting for events to occur.

So life has not changed for the last 40 years.
Bob Lorimer, Rod Cooper, Geoff Vazey, Jens Madsen and now dear Tony.
No one before Gibson was prepared to make the port efficient and now Gibson and the Chairman have backed down.
At least the dead hand of Bill Andersen will now sleep peacefully over with weekend and lives to fight another day. He and Jack Clare ae in good company up there.

POA are taking it up the arse (quite rightly) because they have been acting like arsholes

POA are taking it up the arse because they are acting like arseholes.

"I thought these workers claimed to want to spend time with their families. Not hang out with their blagging union mates."

They would be home with their families if it wasn't for wealthy, overpaid, ring wing, weren't trying to reduce their incomes. Duh!

Tauranga Port has had cost effective labour practices for years because they were partly publicly owned. Ports of Auckland could have been the same, except that "comrade" Mike Lee and his leftie mates on the ARC took out the public shareholders in a politically indefensible deal to make POAL a communist port where the workers ruled.

I'm sorry I post in a wrong section.
Best regards!

totally agree with Lindsay Fergusson - you MUNZ guys are just a bunch of have bugger all support and can screw whoever you want or you will threaten is 2012 not 1953