The Dim-Post

March 8, 2012

‘We’re going on a journey . . .’

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:02 am

Here’s Len Brown on the POAL issue, talking to Morning Report. Let’s assume he’s a rational actor, and that he knows that he’s lost any chance of unionist or left-wing activist support in the local body elections next year, that this support will swing behind another candidate, split the vote and Brown will lose to a right-wing contender . . . What’s his strategy here?

76 Comments »

  1. He’s going on a journey to the board of directors gravy train, like all failed politicians.

    Comment by alex — March 8, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  2. Presumably the same as that other Brown.

    Ah, the parable of the two Browns. Brown number one, Russell, has already discovered to his cost that there is no going back when you side with the boss class in a showdown. His reputation was wrecked beyond repair with the left, and his reward from the bosses for his betrayal has been the end of TVNZ7 and the precious Media7 project that he so desperately sought to protect.

    Yet, at the end of the day he sold his reputation cheap, for nothing but ashes in his mouth.

    Now Brown number two – Len – is going to have a similar painful revelation. Selling out the MUNZ workers for a 12% return to protect the funding for his precious central rail loop project will destroy his reputation with the left, for whom tribal solidarity – the only weapon the bosses can’t take from you – is all they can count on in a fight to the finish. There is no way back from the betrayal of workers and the principle of collective solidarity. And, like Brown number one, his reward from the boss class for betraying his base will be defeat next election and the end of the dream of decent public transport for another decade.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 8, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  3. 3.He can be seen as a rational actor if you understand that, like all local body politicians here in Auckland, he is in the thrall of the port board and management. I don’t know why it is so, but this rule – let’s call it “P” – seems to be a constant in Auckland local body politics, along with the speed of light in vacuum c, the gravitational constant G, Planck’s constant h, the electric constant ε0, and the elementary charge e. In fact, given recent science in Switzerland, it is possible P is more certain than c.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — March 8, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  4. Matthew, that sounds like Pc gone mad.

    L

    Comment by Lew — March 8, 2012 @ 9:21 am

  5. He’s supporting the publicly held interests of POAL, rather than the private greedy interests of MUNZ, simple really. He’s sticking to the principles of his political beliefs rather than his political party.

    But seriously, I don’t think you can reconcile supporting MUNZ currently with the actions of a rational actor. What a bunch of dopefuck clowns. I feel sorry for them, but not for the same reasons as the screechy union backers.

    Comment by Andrew M — March 8, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  6. Anyway, Brown is history. Failed the vital test. Finished. Goneburger. No one will vote for him now. I think we can all start referring to him in the past tense as mayor. The main left strategy should now be to urgently find a decent new candidate for the mayoralty. What we need is a candidate who has broad appeal to the glam slickers of Jafaland, isn’t afraid to take on the establishment, is independently successful and therefore immune to the seduction of the offer of admission to the old boys gravy train and is a guaranteed passionate advocate for public transport… Hmmmm…. Who might that be… who??

    *bingo!*

    Is Lucy Lawless available?

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 8, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  7. I think he’s caught in a mess that’s been a long time comming. The problems with Auckland and Tauranga fighting to see who will become the prominant container port has been going on for over a decade.

    There’s been various reports but nothing has been done and responsibility for that rests with the varuous local govts of Auckland as well as with the previous Labour govt and present National govt who have not stepped in to sort out a crtical node in export industry.

    I have some sympathy for the union as well who are cuaght in a mess not of their own making but I do wonder about the quality of union leadership. Helen Kelly is a moron. And the POAL has acted with a complete ack of imagination.

    I think sell off a large part of the port and sell a good percentage to the workers as with Tauranga.

    Comment by NeilM — March 8, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  8. Ah, the parable of the two Browns. Brown number one, Russell, has already discovered to his cost that there is no going back when you side with the boss class in a showdown. His reputation was wrecked beyond repair with the left, and his reward from the bosses for his betrayal has been the end of TVNZ7 and the precious Media7 project that he so desperately sought to protect.

    Tom, this is deranged. Get a grip.

    FWIW, we’re covering POAL on Media7 next week (we actually scheduled it a couple of weeks ago). I think we will have an interesting show.

    Comment by Russell Brown — March 8, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  9. He can be seen as a rational actor if you understand that, like all local body politicians here in Auckland, he is in the thrall of the port board and management. I don’t know why it is so

    My guess is that he’s on notice that Gibson will walk if Brown is seen to do anything to undermine the pursuit of the 12% return his own council has demanded of the port company’s management. And he’s very afraid, with some reason, that it will blow up in his face.

    Which does not, I confess, explain why Brown’s performance has been quite so bad.

    Comment by Russell Brown — March 8, 2012 @ 10:13 am

  10. @Sanctuary. Comparing the Hobbit dispute with this is really quite ridiculous. Peter Jackson did not lay off hundreds of permanent staff, nor would it appear that he bargained in bad faith with the unions at all. In fact, what happened was a very over the top union movement caused hundreds of people to lose their employment as all funds to the project ceased, and a very real threat of the production being lost to NZ entirely led to a political intervention that only lined the pockets of the Hollywood. It is hardly the dispute to raise if you’re looking for worker solidarity.

    I presume that is what you’re talking about with your “Two Browns” parable.

    It will be interesting to see how much damage Len Brown takes over this. The big demographic that put him in was the poor of South Auckland – I’m not entirely sure how much real interest is taken in union disputes by that group, most of whom are themselves probably not protected by unions.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 8, 2012 @ 10:18 am

  11. I’m not sure what Len Brown is supposed to do, the port of Auckland is a tangled web caught within a larger tangeled web of NZ’s port infratructure that has needed sorting out for sometime.

    Brown is limited in what the can do to solve the issue because it’s a difficult issue to solve.

    Comment by NeilM — March 8, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  12. If this were a private sector listed compny, major shaerholders would be all over this because of the risk to their investment. they would be able to call up the CEO or CFO for a briefing. I find it hard to belief the largest shareholder of POAL is unable to do the same. Indeed, I would suggest he is being reckless by not being across what the company is up to.

    Comment by insider — March 8, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  13. My guess is that he’s on notice that Gibson will walk if Brown is seen to do anything to undermine the pursuit of the 12% return his own council has demanded of the port company’s management.

    Gibson walking sounds more like an incentive than a threat.

    Who actually demanded the 12%? The locally elected council or the ACT appointed board of ACIL?

    Comment by pete — March 8, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  14. Last I checked, Russell didn’t look like a bourgeois sellout to me. And a sizable number of councillors did actually call for the Port management to pull their heads in.

    Once again, I still think the ITF & ILWU have an ace up their sleeves.

    Comment by DeepRed — March 8, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  15. The 12% is fanciful. It only makes 1.3% now if the value of the land is taken into account.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — March 8, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  16. He’s going on a journey of re-election.

    He knows “middle” Auckland doesn’t care for unions but they do care about their rates rising by 10% and they do feel sorry for all the poor businesses (importers) who are caught in the middle of this. And those that earn less than the reported salaries of the wharfies ($91,000) are envious and want to smash their faces in for daring to do so well. I mean, it’s worth it so long as my rates only rise by 9.5% instead of 10%, right?

    Couple that with the unliklihood of any one else putting up a candidate regarded with affection in South Auckland, and Brown’s onto a winner*.

    *slightly undermined by pissing off his GOTV team….

    Comment by Me Too — March 8, 2012 @ 10:47 am

  17. Two Browns surely they were talking about Wayne & Len. The other Brown may well have sold his soul but when Media 7 moves to MTV he would not be needed.
    Meanwhile back to Auckland & Mayoralty I would bet that Christine will throw her hat into the ring,

    Comment by Ron — March 8, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  18. Twould be nice if Christine Fletcher, Cam Brewer and Cameron Craig all stood for the mayoralty, divided the right wing vote, and let a left wing candidate triumph. Sadly they will probably be too organized to let that happen.

    Comment by Amy — March 8, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  19. Kinda like the Republicans in the USA, Amy? That’d be great theatre. But who would be the left wing candidate – Len Brown???

    Comment by MeToo — March 8, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

  20. Hmmm yes I think Len Brown. No other credible left wing contender right now. I would rather have Len than all of the other 3 above so I would still vote for him. Not sure if I’d campaign for him though…

    Comment by Amy — March 8, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

  21. I had a friend sobbing today on the phone to me for over an hour at being made redundant. Sacked. Fired. She wanted advice. “I really need this job” she said. Mortgage, you see. But the process had been followed. The conclusion remorselessly and inevitably reached. The sociopathic fuckers who sacked her and other decent men and women in the name of profit had done their job efficiently. The sociopathic moral cowards and enablers with their nice suits and corporate language and “processes” and bullshit caring – they are the enemy of working people in the most deadly way because they worship at an alter totally divorced from the hopes and fears and humanity of most ordinary people. Like willing “Joy Divisions” they’ll get their rewards, but in the meantime they get to coolly rationalise it all to absolve themselves from their own moral failure and turpitude.

    “…Tom, this is deranged. Get a grip…”

    Occasionally I worry I might upset the “sophisticated” middle class liberals in the blogsphere who value being terribly clever, who confuse cynicism with sophistication, who argue quietly so the neighbours won’t hear, who prize striving to never be unpleasant to each other through the “change process” at work. Yeah, You gotta “Get a Grip”. But then I remember. These are real peoples jobs. Real lives. Real life stories. Real life tragedies, played out in front of purse lipped bullies in a thousand antiseptically neutral “meeting room 101″. “What do you do”? is the first question you get on introduction. Work is what gives us dignity. Good work gives us pride and hope. Your job is what you are told to invest everything in. And when the capitalists and their obscenities come and seek to toss you aside with their corporate authoritarian behemoth, all you have to stand up to them is you collective strength and solidarity, That is it. Nothing else. Just us. Against Pinochet inspired Labour laws, the full panoply of the power of the state, the full power of corporate money stands only the power found in the collective and in loyalty.

    So I am constantly astonished at the Browns of this world.. Astonished at their inability to understand why solidarity is a bottom line. Astonished to at their failure to understand that when the most fundamental principle is betrayed, when the idea of my tribe, right or wrong, is sneered at – “This is deranged!” – as the refuge of an emotional lesser, less reasonable, class then anything and everything else they might utter is not worth horse shit.

    Len Brown might have some good ideas. Hey – Gaddaffi greened the desert, Saddam emancipated women. But Brown is finished. He can no more expect the left to listen to his ideas around public transport and the super city than a Pope who sold his soul to devil could expect the faithful to appreciate his ideas for redecorating the Sistine Chapel.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 8, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

  22. “when the idea of my tribe, right or wrong, is sneered at”

    Um, there are plenty of historical precedents to justify a good deal of scepticism towards that idea… at least in its edited form.

    The full quote is from a Missouri senator of the nineteenth century, Charles Schurz, who said “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

    There’s a crucial difference there.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — March 8, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

  23. Hi Sanctuary. Perhaps your friend will get a better job?

    By the way, AWESOME rant. 11!!F1RST!!!. You pwnd the capitalist pig dog interwebs with that one. Do you use Microsoft-based or Mac computers?

    Comment by TBWood — March 8, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

  24. “Hi Sanctuary. Perhaps your friend will get a better job?”

    Maybe. Or maybe she’ll lose her home. Who knows? It’s easy to be optimistic when you’re surveying other people’s disasters.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — March 9, 2012 @ 1:10 am

  25. Poor old Len, from Saviour of the Left to Enemy of the People in just a few months.

    I wonder how his demonisation by Labour et al will now play out with winning back those Auckland electorates.

    Comment by NeilM — March 9, 2012 @ 8:27 am

  26. Occasionally I worry I might upset the “sophisticated” middle class liberals in the blogsphere who value being terribly clever, who confuse cynicism with sophistication, who argue quietly so the neighbours won’t hear, who prize striving to never be unpleasant to each other through the “change process” at work. Yeah, You gotta “Get a Grip”. But then I remember. These are real peoples jobs. Real lives. Real life stories. Real life tragedies, played out in front of purse lipped bullies in a thousand antiseptically neutral “meeting room 101″.

    Yeah, got that one. I could hardly do otherwise, given that my workmates and I will be losing our jobs in June — a prospect you seem to celebrate as some sort of cosmic payback for my having failed to hold exactly the same views as you.

    I read your idiot rant while we were in our weekly editorial meeting, talking about how we’ll handle the POAL story. In the circumstances, I think “get a grip” was really the mildest thing I could have said.

    Comment by Russell Brown — March 9, 2012 @ 8:31 am

  27. Nice Russell, nice.

    Comment by merv — March 9, 2012 @ 9:02 am

  28. Yeah, got that one. I could hardly do otherwise, given that my workmates and I will be losing our jobs in June

    Consolations, Russell.

    Comment by George D — March 9, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  29. Just cos Media7 plays five times a week on TVNZ7 doesn’t make it a full time job Russell… or are there residuals involved :-)

    Look on the bright side, at least you have the financial powerhouse that is Public Address to fall back on.

    Comment by insider — March 9, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

  30. >I think “get a grip” was really the mildest thing I could have said.

    Yup. Sanctuary, your anger is misplaced, to the point of counterproductivity. Makes me think this is something personal.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 9, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  31. Nah, I’m with Sanctuary on this. The Two Browns can bugger off. Sympathy for Russell is like sympathy for Wormtongue. I’m sick of the weasels who try to protray themselves as middle of the road, balanced, neutral when they’re really too gutless to take a stand with the poor and dispossessed (of their jobs).

    MeToo, comment 16, summed it nicely. Len thinks he can dodge the PoA bullets, frame himself as not supporting the union to appeal to the centre-right voters, then bully the left into supporting him as ‘the only option left’. Not gonna work again with me. We can still have Mike Lee, who should have been the first mayor…

    Working class South Akld has a slow, long-burning fuse, but eventually we go off (or go pfft, and fail to turn out the vote ;) ). Just ask Helen C about 2008.

    Comment by bob — March 9, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  32. Well when you advocate Lucy Lawless as a Mayoral candidate you’ve certainly got issues of some description.

    Comment by merv — March 9, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  33. Above was in reply to Ben ICYW.

    Comment by merv — March 9, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

  34. >Sympathy for Russell is like sympathy for Wormtongue.

    No, it’s like sympathy for someone who has lost their job, much like the port workers. Someone who has a family to support, including two disabled children. You are a nasty fool if you think like that, and expect such utterances to gather support for your cause. The cause is perfectly righteous on it’s own, and supported by Russell, and it doesn’t need sanctimonious working class keyboard heroes turning on sympathetic people. Grow up.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 9, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

  35. “sympathy for someone who has lost their job”

    It’s all about solidarity. Unless you don’t agree with us and then you’re one of THEM…

    Comment by nommopilot — March 9, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  36. Yes nommo and I do note you have been pretty vocal in your shall we say class traitor rhetoric.

    Comment by Kindred — March 9, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  37. @nommopilot I found Sanctuary’s comment at 21 to be a near perfect exposition of the main things that are an epic fail about worker-oriented socialism. The language of class warfare that it assumes causes far more division than solidarity and this quote:

    “Work is what gives us dignity. Good work gives us pride and hope. Your job is what you are told to invest everything in.”

    neatly summarizes exactly why this language is created. It deifies work, which creates a scornful attitude to people who don’t work, and a fearful attitude towards anything that makes work unnecessary. It demonizes people who aren’t in the union. I’m not sure whether Sanctuary, whom I consider to be an intelligent person, is not in some way parodying this set of beliefs, but I don’t think so in this case, because he concludes with:

    “Against Pinochet inspired Labour laws, the full panoply of the power of the state, the full power of corporate money stands only the power found in the collective and in loyalty.”

    Which is pure delusion. There are a lot more things that that standing against unfair labour practices. The disapproval of the people. Sympathetic politicians. Reasoning about the actual cost of a fight with unions. The law. Many aspects of the news media. Internal opposition amongst potentially sympathetic management. Competition from other ports with fairer treatment of their workers. International disapproval. Human sympathy.

    To cast aside any of these is pure foolishness. The idea that a small collective of workers can pit itself against all comers is a suicidal dream. An angry government can turn really serious violence against these guys, they have done that before in NZ to port workers. No-one wants it to come to that, especially the workers themselves.

    I have very strong feelings of sympathy for this bunch of laid-off workers. They have been wronged. They need all the help they can get. Every bit of help from every direction is worth taking. Polemic against sympathetic media personalities is fucking stupid. What is the likely outcome if Russell turned up at the port with the Media7 crew and started getting called a class traitor by some twit? Is he going to feel inclined to make a sympathetic show that will then be seen by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people? Actually, knowing Russell personally, I think that he would, because he does actually strive to be balanced, as is required of a news show paid for by the government. But that shit sure wouldn’t help.

    But if they lose the dispute and stay sacked, they don’t become worthless people, with no dignity, pride or hope, having lost their only investment. They can seek work elsewhere. Or they can take the contract work at the port, and will probably have considerably more chance of getting that than other unemployed people do. There is actually no requirement on them to be martyrs to the glorious revolution, nor does anyone choosing their survival over the glorious collective’s automatically become a demon.

    Which doesn’t make it OK, but it’s important, IMHO, to keep a sight of what the real worth of a job is. It’s still just a fucking job.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 9, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

  38. Sorry, but someone has to do the obvious and I’ve nominated myself to do it:

    Now that that’s done… this too:

    It’s been said better by others than I could say it.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — March 9, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  39. A little more seriously (but then satire is serious at heart), “solidarity” as described by Sanc and Bob is explicitly presented as clearly delineated and exclusive – “either you’re with us all the way, or if you cross this line you’re an eternal mortal enemy” – and that doesn’t look like solidarity at all. It tells me that the comrades will come to my aid in times of trouble only if they deem me fit.

    FWIW, I am and have been a constant union member as long as I’ve had work, and I have both supported and needed my union and I’ve been been helped by them and I continue in my loyalty, but I will not, ever surrender my conscience to prove my tribal fealty.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — March 9, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

  40. Which doesn’t make it OK, but it’s important, IMHO, to keep a sight of what the real worth of a job is. It’s still just a fucking job.

    Firing people and then hiring them as contractors or casuals to do the same work is really shit. I had a terse but polite conversation last weekend in Melbourne, with a union-busting lawyer, who seems to think unions cause trouble for the hell of it. She didn’t seem to consider the effects of casualisation on the workforces she and others are affecting, nor of the need for certainty and decent conditions. That flexibility wreaks itself somewhere, and that somewhere is the lives of those made flexible.

    Nevertheless, if there was a job that seemed destined to be replaced with robots, moving square bits of metal of identical size is probably it. Rotterdam has already begun the process, and it seems inevitable that humans will be out of the picture sooner or later.

    Comment by George D — March 9, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  41. @George – my brother in law is a construction manager – worked in NZ in very non-Union setting, and then went to work in Melbourne in a very union-heavy setting.

    He went knowing that unions were a disaster, and came back knowing that while unions can be a pain in the arse sometimes, they generally demand a setting that is safer for all, promotes higher quality of work, and (when there’s no strikes) gets stuff completed faster than here in NZ. Higher costs wage costs paid back by only doing stuff once. etc etc.

    Doesn’t relate to much to robots and ports, but there you go. I never promised to be coherent.

    Comment by TBWood — March 9, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

  42. >Firing people and then hiring them as contractors or casuals to do the same work is really shit.

    I totally agree. In fact, I’m not sure that it’s not actually illegal.

    >Nevertheless, if there was a job that seemed destined to be replaced with robots, moving square bits of metal of identical size is probably it.

    Well contractors are not robots. This is not a move to improve workplace efficiency, it’s a move to cut costs by taking away worker rights. Indeed, it’s a move in the other direction, reducing the cost of the human labour so that mechanization of it becomes less worthwhile. So it ironically makes the Rotterdam solution far less likely. But yes, so far as dockworkers jobs are concerned, the very process of putting cargo in those containers killed a colossal amount of labour. This did not make it an evil thing. There was nothing actually righteous about humans lugging boxes around, and the huge problems with theft did no favours to those unions anywhere in the world.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 9, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  43. I seem to have missed the debate- but I’m not sure if those claiming Peter Jackson acted in good faith are aware of this:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1104/S00081/helen-kelly-the-hobbit-dispute.htm

    Perhaps the insiders might wish to let us know with quotes where Helen is telling porkies. And the anti-union narrative that is being run sure didn’t start with the ports. Bad faith is bad faith- in this dispute and in that. The bad faith isn’t coming from the workers.

    The point is here and now- we’re behind Australia and seeing our equality being further eroded. It’s all hands on deck on the left I believe and pulling the oars in the same direction, because between casualisations, contractors, laws passed at midnight for foreign corporates and yes, public tv studios making way for a casino, the attack is brazen and unashamed.

    Get down to Britomart at 4pm on Saturday the tenth. Read the bullshitless version from Simon Wilson in the Metro editorial. I don’t want to quote it, because I’ll want to write the whole lot. It is good writing. And pleasant that there is some still in reputable NZ periodicals.

    But here’s his close: “Is it ‘modern’ for the port to precipitate a major dispute that threatens the whole economy? It is ‘modern’ to try to destroy the union? If your answer is yes, does that mean a workforce with industrial representation doesn’t fit in a ‘liveable city’? “

    Comment by sheesh — March 9, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  44. @sheesh #43: seconded. Who are we trying to catch up with anyway, Australia or Indonesia? It seems the only thing that’s caught up with Oz is executive salaries a la Tony Marryatt – a symptom of the ‘international talent’ cargo cult.

    Comment by DeepRed — March 9, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  45. George D:
    Nevertheless, if there was a job that seemed destined to be replaced with robots, moving square bits of metal of identical size is probably it.

    Well yes, as the Howard Government demonstrated in 1998, it can be done by a bunch of covertly-trained-in-Dubai meathead scabs. And once they’ve outlived their usefulness you can treat them as expendable trash, because in everyone’s eyes that’s all they ever were:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_Australian_waterfront_dispute

    Comment by Joe W — March 9, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  46. “I do note you have been pretty vocal in your shall we say class traitor rhetoric”

    really? well I’d expect that kind of accusation from a corporate lapdog sock-puppet out to bring down the brotherhood…

    Comment by nommopilot — March 9, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

  47. Well contractors are not robots. This is not a move to improve workplace efficiency, it’s a move to cut costs by taking away worker rights. Indeed, it’s a move in the other direction, reducing the cost of the human labour so that mechanization of it becomes less worthwhile. So it ironically makes the Rotterdam solution far less likely.

    Oh, quite so. New Zealand’s deregulated labour market over the last 3 decades has meant that by any measure other than total factor productivity we’re doing very badly. It’s far easier to pile on some cheap labour for extra hours than it is to invest in process, training, or plant. We’re going backwards inexorably. The Clark Government was merely a pause.


    Get down to Britomart at 4pm on Saturday the tenth.

    If you’re not there (and don’t have a good reason) the restless fuckers, who won’t stop until there’s nothing but ‘flexibility’ and all rights are conditional, win.

    Comment by George D — March 9, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  48. In fact, I’m not sure that it’s not actually illegal.
    As I understand it, it’s not illegal so much as rule bound. You can’t just hire someone back casualised and have them do the same job – if they do consistent regular hours they’re deemed permanent after a relatively short time.
    So there’ll presumedly be all kinds of shift juggling to ensure they get around those rules which sucks even more…

    Comment by garethw — March 10, 2012 @ 8:35 am

  49. “…a prospect you seem to celebrate as some sort of cosmic payback for my having failed to hold exactly the same views as you…”

    Well, no.

    I normally avoid posting much on the internet on the weekend. But this is rubbish. I have be appalled by the closing of TVNZ7. I might have thought your show a rather dull affair and you a poor interviewer and said so, but I doubt you’ll find me loudly “celebrating” your demise. Even poor public service television is better than none.

    There has to be some sort of delicious irony in the absolute group loyalty you command amongst your mates in your condemnation of my condemning you for failing to show absolute group loyalty though.

    “…Which is pure delusion. There are a lot more things that that standing against unfair labour practices. The disapproval of the people. Sympathetic politicians. Reasoning about the actual cost of a fight with unions. The law. Many aspects of the news media. Internal opposition amongst potentially sympathetic management. Competition from other ports with fairer treatment of their workers. International disapproval. Human sympathy….”

    I nearly fell off my chair laughing at this Ben.

    1/Disapproval of the people? Have you read the comments section of the Herald? And anyway, since when did the fight for a decent wages and conditions turn on the approval of the public anyway?
    2/Sympathetic politicians? Really? Show me one – we’ve got Walyter Nash palying Walter Mitty on this issue leading the Labour Party and the “left wing” mayor has sided with the boss class.
    3/Reasoning about the… Actually, you lost me at “reasoning” Tony Gibson and his board are “reasonable” all right. It is just their mental reasoning has it that their managerial fiat to dispose of their lower class work force as they see fit should be absolute. Many aspects of the news media – Oh! You must mean Paul Holmes? No? Mike Hoskings, per chance? Leighton Smith, friend of the workers? Or maybe Paul Henry? Hmmmm,well maybe you think that well known union loving liberal Rupert Murdoch will instruct his media minnions here to swing behind the MUNZ workers?
    4/Internal opposition amongst potentially sympathetic management? Are you even serious? The lock-step neo-liberal cult of management that makes ideological faith a central tenet of the business elite in this country amkes this statement a complete non-sequiteur.
    5/ Competition from other ports – dude, do you even know what this dispute is about? It is exactly BECAUSE other ports are cost driven to reduce wages bills and have de-unionised casual workforces that th POAL has resolved to break the union.
    6/ International disapproval. Right. Cos that’ll show them.
    7/ Human sympathy. What, you mean like giving the port workers your lose change?

    The idea that when you fight the boss you can rely on the support from anyone but your fellow workers is a lie. Plain and simple. And that is my point.

    Ben, your increasingly long expositions of some eccentric self-revelatory post-modernist theory that work isn’t important is complete balderdash unsupported by any serious thinkers and is taking you close to that part of the map marked only with artificial hair pieces and the legend “here be Pete George country” – although I do think you are much smarter than he is.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 10, 2012 @ 9:21 am

  50. One more thing.

    “…What is the likely outcome if Russell turned up at the port with the Media7 crew and started getting called a class traitor by some twit? Is he going to feel inclined to make a sympathetic show that will then be seen by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people..?”

    Well you know what? I have had a gutsful of people being nice, about hoping someone will condescend to being “sympathetic”. Management doesn’t do nice. The boss does hope someone will be “sympathetic”. Nice means not making a fuss when you are outsourced. Nice means not calling someone you think is a class traitor that to his or her face. Nice means standing about on a picket line duitfully obeying “the keep of the grass” sign. where has has being nice got workers in the last 25 years?

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 10, 2012 @ 9:29 am

  51. *the boss doesn’t hope…

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 10, 2012 @ 9:30 am

  52. Here’s a question- are the people who think this is a good idea prepared to say:

    I think a legitimate response to a recession is to take away public sector and all workers rights and reduce their pay, while increasing the dividends paid by publicly owned companies. I’d love to see wages drop and a large percentage of the population unable to enjoy the basic joys of NZ life due to a lack of certainty and security around their work.

    Len please sign your pledge.

    Comment by sheesh — March 10, 2012 @ 10:23 am

  53. “I have had a gutsful of people being nice,”

    yeah it’s sickening having people support your cause. Much better to go off on a tirade and try and alienate absolutely anyone who might be favourably disposed to your cause by calling them sellouts.

    If you think that your cause is helped at all by this kind of rant then go for your life, but I’d say it would be better to pick your targets (ie. Len Brown: quite a legitimate target given his position and lack of action on the issue, Russell Brown: not so much). Hint: if you want to encourage solidarity it doesn’t help to denounce people who are showing support for your cause as class traitors, especially when it’s not really even clear why you think they are…

    “There has to be some sort of delicious irony in the absolute group loyalty you command amongst your mates in your condemnation of my condemning you for failing to show absolute group loyalty though.”

    hahahahahahaWTF?

    Comment by nommopilot — March 10, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  54. hahahahahahaWTF?

    Comrade, if you weren’t with Sanctuary on the e-barricades when he stared down Russell Brown’s PAS clique of anti-worker pro-Peter Jackson liberal bourgeois provocateurs, you’ll never understand what true loyalty means.

    Comment by Sam F — March 10, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  55. “you’ll never understand what true loyalty means.”

    I, um, don’t remember whose side I was on during that time. I think I was mildly pro-Hobbit …

    Comment by nommopilot — March 10, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  56. “I have be appalled by the closing of TVNZ7. I might have thought your show a rather dull affair and you a poor interviewer and said so, but I doubt you’ll find me loudly “celebrating” your demise. Even poor public service television is better than none….”

    “Brown number one, Russell, has already discovered to his cost that there is no going back when you side with the boss class in a showdown. His reputation was wrecked beyond repair with the left, and his reward from the bosses for his betrayal has been the end of TVNZ7 and the precious Media7 project that he so desperately sought to protect.”

    Eh?

    Comment by TBWood — March 10, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

  57. “Eh?”

    It all makes sense if you imagine the unions are the rebel alliance and the government/bosses are the empire. (Russell is apparently some kind of Lando Calrissian…)

    Comment by nommopilot — March 10, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

  58. >I nearly fell off my chair laughing at this Ben.

    Yes, your lack of any sense of balance is very obvious. No one agrees with you, not even the port workers themselves. If it was just a matter of their collective power there would be little reason for anyone else to even take an interest. No reason to stand on the streets with signs, or have marches or get into the papers. Little reason to give a shit what you say, for instance, because you are not one of their co-workers and thus you are by your own fuxored definitions, incapable of rendering them any support. No point in being bitter on the politicians. No point in seeking solidarity (and getting it) from the port workers in other cities.

    >The idea that when you fight the boss you can rely on the support from anyone but your fellow workers is a lie. Plain and simple. And that is my point.

    Your point is plain and simple, and wrong and stupid too. Not only are there other people you can rely on for support, but you can’t necessarily rely on fellow workers. Have you ever actually been in a workplace?

    I don’t think you have understood any of what I’ve said about work. I don’t think you are actually capable of understanding it. You’re locked in on a mindset that had the shit kicked out of it long ago. I think you like getting the shit kicked out of you, actually, it really rings your bell. You flail about wildly like a drunk in a bar, hitting friend and foe alike, to prove something about yourself that everyone already got the last time they stepped over your busted arse in the gutter. That having anything to do with you is a waste of time.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 10, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

  59. “Yes, your lack of any sense of balance is very obvious”

    may not be the one destined to bring balance to the force, but his midi-chlorian count is off the scale

    Comment by nommopilot — March 10, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  60. Meanwhile, in Auckland this afternoon, thousands marched. Pretty much every local Labour MP turned up (including Shearer), as did a vast array of others. It didn’t feel like a parade of hacks and unionists (I’ve been on a few), but a rather public march.

    Brown may still feel that the Ports have room to move, but his own support base is very much against him. He’s even isolated in council, if the conversations I had are accurate.

    Comment by George D — March 10, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  61. Well contractors are not robots. This is not a move to improve workplace efficiency, it’s a move to cut costs by taking away worker rights. Indeed, it’s a move in the other direction, reducing the cost of the human labour so that mechanization of it becomes less worthwhile.

    The story of NZ’s capital shallowness and resulting low productivity, delivered in a couple of lines – congrats.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 10, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  62. Psycho Milt @61 Indeed. I’ve long felt that NZ has, in it’s government and culture been incredibly, bewilderingly lazy. We’ve relied so long, and still do, on primary produce and low wages as as somehow being the key to prosperity when all along it’s been “value-added” that could make us better than “good Third World”. Fonterra has amazed me by taking something as basic as milk and making it something of a premium product while we’re still shipping logs. Think about that; we’re exporting logs instead of paper, instead of everything associated with trees – such as books and every sort of equipment associated with forestry. Did you know that NZ sells about half of all the circular saw blades used worldwide? Imagine if that sort of initiative were applied everywhere? Instead, we have idiots on one side looking to lower labour costs and idiots on another side running up lists of class traitors or kulaks to be shot when the revolution comes. We’ve known this for decades and it’s still been more of the same old shit. When will these fools, on both sides, realise that the Mother Country (once England, then the US, now Australia and China), won’t buy our mutton any more?

    BTW, one of the reasons why I despise Labour (apart from them being AWOL for about half a decade now) as much as I do National is that the so-called “Knowledge Wave” meant about as much as Heath’s “White Heat of technology” in practise. It’s the “in practise” bit that matters.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — March 10, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

  63. @60, thousands, or, as Granny Herald put it, two thousand. If they’re lucky, about the same as the Occupy movement, and we all know how little traction that got after the first wave.

    MUNZ lost the hearts and minds war in Auckland long ago. About the same time the public discovered that they work 26 hours per week for $91k per annum.

    Comment by KH — March 10, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  64. thousands, or, as Granny Herald put it, two thousand.
    Just a couple of thousand webtrolls then, counting heads. Nary a heart or mind to be seen, you can all sleep tight.

    Comment by Joe W — March 10, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

  65. @57 nommopilot – art imitating life? Your suggestion it eerily possible. I’ve worked through the following extract from Wikipedia, and also found dopplegangers for Shearer (Leia of course), L Brown (Vader), H Kelly (Skywalker), and M Hooten (Fett). Couldn’t work the others out though… (and I’m reliably informed that Brownlee is not infact, Jabba the Hut – that’s too easy).

    Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    Lando Calrissian first appears in The Empire Strikes Back as the administrator of Cloud City, concerned primarily with keeping the Empire out of his affairs. One day, Darth Vader arrives and threatens to take over the city unless Calrissian gives his old friend Han Solo over to the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Calrissian reluctantly agrees to betray Han, but his conscience gets the better of him when Vader goes back on his word and takes Princess Leia Organa and Chewbacca as prisoners. In the ensuing evacuation of Cloud City, he helps Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO escape. He then assists Leia in rescuing the maimed Luke Skywalker from the underside of Cloud City. Afterwards, he joins the Rebel Alliance and promises Leia he will find Han.

    Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
    In Return of the Jedi, Calrissian goes undercover to help Luke Skywalker rescue Solo from Jabba the Hutt. During a heated battle with Jabba’s henchmen, Han saves Calrissian from being devoured by a Sarlaac; in return, Calrissian helps Han and his friends destroy Jabba’s barge. For his heroics, he is made a general in the Rebel Alliance. He then takes the pilot chair in the Millennium Falcon and leads the attack on the second Death Star. He leads the Rebels to victory by destroying the gigantic battle station and, with it, the Empire.

    Comment by TBWood — March 11, 2012 @ 9:12 am

  66. @60, thousands, or, as Granny Herald put it, two thousand.

    The Herald can’t count. One News put it at five thousand, which is close to what the people I spoke to there (including those who know very well what 500, 1000, 5000, and 10000 look like) estimated. It stretched for over a kilometre at 5pm.

    However, I concede that if you’d wandered down Queen at 4pm, when half the crowd had yet to arrive, you’d fairly accurately say that there were only two thousand. The crowd kept building for another half hour at least (have you ever tried to find parking at 4pm in downtown Auckland?).

    Comment by George D — March 11, 2012 @ 10:09 am

  67. >have you ever tried to find parking at 4pm in downtown Auckland?

    Wynyard quarter is always worth checking.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 11, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  68. Ha!

    Not a bad turn out with the Summer Series in Wynyard Quarter, Pasifika at Western Springs and McCullum and Taylor batting in Dunedin…all things in my life that I would normally place above protesting…

    Comment by sheesh — March 11, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

  69. This issue sucks, but it won’t define my vote for Auckland Mayor. Len Brown is still, by far, the best mayor for Auckland simply because Citizens and Ratepayers disqaulify themselves by being anti almost everything that seriously needs doing in Auckland. Aucklanders know this. It’s the reason why C&R only won 5 seats out of 20 on the Council……and that’s despite 62.5% of votes cast across Auckland for the Council not electing anyone at all (thanks to the First past the Post).

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — March 12, 2012 @ 9:20 am

  70. What is the big deal here? several industries have shifted from 8 hr shifts to 12 or other variations, because they exist to serve a particular purpose: producing flat whites, drilling holes in the earth, painting buildings, or making snow on ski fields. yes it is nice they employ people, but the worker worship stuff is missing the point – the workers are there to meet a particular demand. excuse me for being capitlaist scum, but i also purchase the results, and shitty inflexible service is frustrating in any sector.

    Auckland looks at Tauranga (which shows a contestable model works well), notices far better utilisation and diversity of operations (e.g. container and bulk) working side by side, ships are there for less time, and Auckland moves to replicate the stevedoring model. the Unions try to block this, at great cost to efficiency and profitability, because apparently they have a “right to an 8 hr day”.

    what is with the “you are with us or against us” rhetoric? There are better ways of fixing this labour versus capital rent accumulation problem (progressive taxation perhaps?) than 300 people (and their families and communities of course) holding collectively-owned assets to ransom.

    … and most ratepayers are saying to themselves: “i would love to only work 8 hrs a day, or have the choice–when i feel like it–to get paid overtime.” I am also overworked and underpaid.

    But most other service sectors have moved into the 21st century, the sky did not fall in Tauranga. From what i understand (not much, but hell, this is a blog comment section, so what-evs…) contractors tend to reward flexibility because they actually value reliable and effective workers – rather than simply take the union seniority as given because they have no choice. More than one employer immediately means competition for labour and an incentive to care about how effective your work is – rather than simply turning up.

    Yeah, it sucks and i know “work choices” can be a demeaning euphemism, but there is no reason to expect the average stevedore will be paid less. There might be less of them, and they might work funny hours… but welcome to the real world, the council’s role should be on managing the transition and finding these workers new jobs, job training or assistance in looking for a change. The union’s philosophical position is based on the fact it is losing its monopoly on dictating how the waterfront operates.

    But if i am wrong and the sky *is* actually going to fall in with a contestable model (i.e. not a union monopoly), please explain it to me… i just don’t buy the “workers are being shafted” argument. what is so special about ports? unlike most nurses, police, firefighters, teachers, army, some bureaucrats, and academics, there is more than one potential employer of stevedoring services.

    Comment by Ben — March 12, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  71. several industries have shifted from 8 hr shifts to 12 or other variations, because they exist to serve a particular purpose: producing flat whites, drilling holes in the earth, painting buildings, or making snow on ski fields.

    Maybe it’s time for the ski-industry to unionise. Seriously.

    It’s rampant in New Zealand. This isn’t an isolated issue, which is why the POAL and AFFCO-Talleys issues are so important. Someone I’m close to used to work in the wine industry, another defined by 12 hour shifts at every hour of the day (during harvest), with no overtime or penalty rates, poor conditions, low wages, and of course close to zero unionisation. It was awful stuff, destroying him as a person, with next to nothing to show for it. He got out, and is now working as a teacher, where he’ll be fine until National has its way and destroys wages and conditions there too.

    Comment by George D — March 13, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  72. most ratepayers are saying to themselves: “i would love to only work 8 hrs a day, or have the choice–when i feel like it–to get paid overtime.” I am also overworked and underpaid.

    It saddens me that you don’t draw the conclusion that the solution is to extend the conditions enjoyed by waterside workers to everyone else.

    Comment by Stephen J — March 13, 2012 @ 10:05 am

  73. @#72

    This is a race to the bottom, mate. You’re not going to win by running in the wrong direction!

    Comment by nommopilot — March 13, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  74. @72 It saddens me that you don’t draw the conclusion that the solution is to extend the conditions enjoyed by waterside workers to everyone else.

    really? i think you missed my point. i just get up in the morning and go do the work people pay me for. i may have better alternative job prospoects, but if we all thought like waterside workers, there would not be a lot happening. i agree with colin James here: http://www.colinjames.co.nz/ODT/ODT_2012/ODT_12Mar13.htm , but the point of my post is reflected in the statement:

    “Ken Douglas, legendary unionist, used to call “wharfies” the “aristocrats of labour”: high wages and cushy conditions. As in 1951, the Labour party is wary of being seen in cahoots with wharfies”.

    in terms of next sentence, i think we probably agree: “Labour’s safer position is concern that what can be done to well-organised wharfies can be done even more readily to others.”

    i’d love a reason to vote labour again, I just don’t think wharfies are not on the side of the “right and the good” in this situation. ratepayers should not subsidise an inefficient model because wharfies claim a “right” to work 8 hour days. it is not a race to the bottom, it is how innovation happens in a capitalist economy. Locking in conditions is not the way to deal with distribution problems – incomes policies are.

    Comment by Ben — March 13, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  75. More than one employer immediately means competition for labour…

    Not so – in reality, more than one employer immediately means those employers get to compete with each other for PoAL’s patronage, with lowering the workers’ pay and conditions used for competitive advantage. A quick squizz at the renewal process for any cleaning contract will illustrate it perfectly for you. The workers’ lack of enthusiasm for the project isn’t surprising.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 13, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  76. @75 I disagree – are you saying that more than one employer does not mean competition for labour?

    you assume that contract stevedore labour is worse for workers, as do most observers. Tauranga has not struggled to attract competent, safe, and innovative stevedore firms, with pretty happy workers and harmonious labour relations. i’m happy to be shown otherwise, but by the sounds of it, the Tauranga firms have to pay a premium to attract the good workers because of the demanding scheduling. I think Rod Oram made this point on Nine to Noon the other day.

    Comment by Ben — March 13, 2012 @ 6:54 pm


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