This article was written for The Spark by Michael Will who is a waterside worker and delegate for the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ).
The Unions of this country are being attacked at the moment, our freedom and rights as workers and human beings are being eroded by attacks by employers and the government.
No labour dispute has been played out in the media as much as the recent struggle between the Maritime Union of New Zealand and Ports of Auckland Ltd. The Maritime Union represents a number of workers involved in the wharf and Shipping industry. These workers have endured a lot of attacks in their history- notably the famous 1951 lockout where laws were passed to make it illegal to feed locked out workers and publish material to get the message to the Public.
The Ports of Auckland dispute began when bargaining failed to reach an agreement, as the Auckland City Council had demanded an increase in their dividend from 6% to 12% over the next five years. Considering that all other publicly owned Ports in the Australasian area operate at around 6% this was an unfair and unrealistic demand. The wharfies had offered to take a lower increase in wages for the retention of job security, and a roster system that gave them a balance between work and family life. CEO Tony Gibson has famously stated that “Unions need to realistic, family life just isn’t financially competitive”.