Wednesday 7 March 2012

Steady, Comrades, Steady

No Surrender! New Zealand workers have counted for nothing for far too long. If they mean to have a class war - let it begin here.

STEADY, COMRADES, STEADY. This is the worst they have. This is all they’ve got left. After this, they have nothing. So, hold steady, comrades, hold steady.

Nothing has changed down on the wharves. The ships are still sailing past. There’s still only a handful of useless scabs sitting on their hands. The people who keep the Port of Auckland running are the members of MUNZ. You were out yesterday. You’re out today. And you’ll be out again tomorrow.

Gibson still has no workforce. The port still lies idle. Yes, he’s announced your dismissal – but you all knew he was going to do that sooner or later. That he’s opted to do it sooner is a measure of how much and how badly you’ve hurt him.

The tipping-point was the demonstration of international and local solidarity. The ships that have not – and will not – dock at Auckland. The heroic secondary picketing at Tauranga and Wellington which held up those scab-loaded ships for 24-48 hours. What choice did Gibson and his Board of Directors have except to “go nuclear” and issue the redundancy notices?

It’s time for cool heads now. Time to sit back and have a quiet think.

Where’s Gibson going to get 300 stevedores? Australia? Really? The same show of international solidarity that saw all those ships steam past Auckland will stop all but the most scabrous of Aussies from crossing the ditch. And why would they come here anyway? What sort of wages and conditions can they look forward to receiving from any stevedoring company willing to sign Gibson’s contract?

No. Gibson and his minions can only recruit a new workforce of stevedores from the stevedores he’s already got – yourselves. Stay strong, don’t waver, and the Port of Auckland will stay closed.

Gibson’s made a mistake. He’s left you with no option now except to fuck him and his mates completely. It’s no surrender now, comrades, and no quarter asked or given. This does not stop until Gibson and the POAL board are sacked. He’s trying to take your jobs. That leaves you with no choice but to take his.

So, don’t worry, and don’t flinch. There are thousands of Kiwis standing with you in spirit. They’re ready to dig deep into their pockets for you and your families. And if Gibson tries to moves scabs onto those wharves, you just wait and see. There’ll be hundreds ready to stand at your shoulder. As General Petain assured the soldiers of France at the Battle of Verdun: “They shall not pass!”

And there are other means of defence. You’ve got some of New Zealand’s best legal brains at your disposal. The POAL’s lack of good faith is there to be exposed; their actions are just begging to be struck down. There are good men and women ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court – if that's what's required.

Political support is there, too. Labour, the Greens, Mana – even Winston – will take up your cause. They know that you are New Zealand citizens: people with rights; not slaves. Working people have counted for nothing in this country for far too long. As the American militia commander told his men before the Battle of Lexington and Concord in April 1775: “Stand your ground; don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

So stand steady, comrades. If it seems dark now, it will be lighter soon. You are not alone. You have right on your side - and time as well. Every day and every ship that passes brings the moment of reckoning for Tony Gibson and his mates one day and one ship closer.

And the same goes for that filleted jellyfish formerly known as Len Brown. If I may conclude by paraphrasing the Australian Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, on the day he was dismissed:

“Well may you say ‘God save Auckland’s port’ – because nothing will save Auckland’s mayor!”

This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.


Anonymous said...

Some good points there, until the end.

1/ Chris you are big enough lad to know workers don't win class issues in the bosses courts.

2/ Support from Labour.

Ha ha.

Comrade Shearer just made a statement saying he's "disappointed" .
And that the solution is for the jelly fish to " resolve the issue"

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Bourgeois 1 Class War 0. The greedy port workers got what they deserved – a dinosaur union holding out for privileged conditions, while the rest of us on struggle street work hard for what we get. I suppose the pinko lefties will be crying in their beer and mutter revolution but won’t compromise their cushy jobs in the public sector by going out in support as they write their policy papers on social equity and gay rights. This is a great victory for middle class New Zealand!

thor42 said...

Sooooooooo-lidarity for eeeeee-ver

Soooooooo-lidarity for eeeeee-ver

Soooooooo-lidarity for eeeeee-ver

Non-union workers ruuuuuuuule.....

Oh dear. It would seem that a few of the lumpen proletariat have had a bit of a shafting. Thank goodness for that.

It's nice to know that there are still some people in this country - the non-union workers - who know a great employer offer when they see one. I'd say that $91k per year is getting dangerously close to "rich pricks" territory, to quote Michael Cullen.

As for ships "sailing past" Auckland - not according to WhaleOil.

Michael Herman said...

A luta continua!

Thrilled to see you venting your spleen on this issue, Chris.

I arrived in this beautiful country a few brisk summer months before Brash released the poison of Orewa Ver. 1. I wondered if I was back in South Africa circa 1980. Then I struck it lucky with my first NZ media job with INL and shortly thereafter wondered if I was back in the USA of the 1950s.

Kiwis had already lost so much of the economic and social ground I cherish by 2002; 10 years later the wave of nauseating self-interest and greed seems to be peaking at last. I look forward to the day when it finally breaks and the vast majority of kiwis stand should-to-shoulder on the issues that matter.

St├ęphane Hessel enjoins us to be outraged by injustice and to seek its redress - I'm hoping POAL and Affco's imperial actions offer sufficient incentive for fellow commoners to resist occupation and subjugation.

A luta continua!

Anonymous said...

Chris you say that the Labour Party support the wharfies.

If that is the case then then Mayor Brown's membership in the Labour Party needs to be questioned.

A members only petition to cancel Len Brown's membership headed by wharfie supporters inside the Labour Party like yourself, could be a very important act of visible solidarity

Let see how well he does in the upcoming Auckland Mayoral elections without our support.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Chris.

Gerrit said...

Everything has changed at the wharves. Ships are being worked right now, only ones sitting on their hands are cloth cap unionist.

Where will the new 300 come from? There will be a line of people right up Queens Street to apply for one of those jobs.

Blacklist ships being worked in Auckland by contract workforce?

Aint going to happen if Wellington was anything to judge it by.

MUNZ missed a golden opportunity to tender for the stevedoring contracts. New wave unionism where your union is at the forefront of looking after their members by tendering for work.

They have the skill set but unfortunately cant see past the cloth cap institutionised mindset.

Possibly the last we will see of cloth cap unionism. No great loss.

Looking forward to progressive unionism in the future.

Anonymous said...

A victory for Aucklanders and true Kiwis over Trade Union treason.

Attend your little march on Saturday Chris and count the numbers: they'll be dwarfed by this year's Mayday anti-Union march, just as they were last Mayday.

Decent Kiwis are taking back our country.

I hope, I really do, for your "solidarity" to eventuate down at the Port. Decent Kiwis will be lining up to join Brown's Cossacks and deal out some justice to some Union parasites.

Scott said...

'Looking forward to progressive unionism in the future'

I think it's back to the future - to the 1990s, specifically, when the partnership model of unionism saw unions in this country defanged and bleeding members - that you want to go, comrade. More recent history - the defence of union rights from the Howard government's attacks, which saw the Aussie labour movement rebound, and the general strikes which have been breaking out all over Europe and the Middle East - suggests that the demise of ye olde cloth cap unionism has been much exaggerated.

Don Franks said...

Ode to a mayor

There's something Brown in Auckland

with a chain of mayoral winks

something Brown in Auckland town

something brown that stinks

Anonymous said...

"The issue is, there is a huge temptation for me to throw myself into the middle of this, and I could.
As the mayor of this city I've got a mandate and we certainly have the power
because the company is 100% owned by our council on behalf of you all, and so I could get in amongst that."

Len Brown, From the Council Transcript PDF

"The real challenge if I step into this, we have six other companies that we own that manage Auckland assets, like Watercare and Auckland Transport.
Every time they have a problem, do I step myself into that?"

Len Brown, From Council Transcript PDF

The Mayor's excuse for not intervening was always spurious at best. ie that if he intervened in the Ports dispute, he would have to interfere in every other labour management dispute. (I wrote at the time)

"Well, maybe he should.
But even if, as a rule, he shouldn't, this is not just any labour Management dispute. The potential damage to the region if the dispute continues is immense . If the Mayor continues to stand aloof and let the damage that this dispute could do to the Auckland region continue, it could be argued that it is a dereliction of his duty as Mayor."

After originally claiming that he had "a mandate" to, "on behalf of you all.... get in amongst that" The Mayor has changed tack and the Mayor is now claiming "My powers to intervene are severely limited."

By his own admission the Mayor is a liar. The only question. Was he lying then, or lying now.

Why doesn't Mayor Brown admit the simple truth that he supports his managers attacks on the port workers and their families?

Could it be that Len Brown has no option but to lie, because he cannot put forward any reasonable argument to justify his council's actions?

Could it be that Len Brown knows that his honest support for this brutal attack, is a betrayal of those who supported and voted for him in the Mayoral elections?

mary said...

If the union held secret ballots I'd have a bit of respect for them.

As it is, I'm old enough to remember the bullying and nastiness accompanying compulsory untionism, so I'm pretty skeptical of this strike.

Also, I'm from a mining family, and we all remember the entire wharf union scabbing on the miners in the early 50's, so while we're indulging in outdated attitudes, let me just say I hold no sympathy for the wharves untions.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Stirring stuff, Trotsky. Now I know you're a facebook conscientious objector, but can I direct your good readers to the page, 'Sack Tony Gibson, the Three Quarters of a Million Dollar Man'?

Here's the lunk:

And for you - and the other counter-Zuckerberg hold-outs :-) - a description of the group:


He 'earns' $750,000 a year. Four hundred bucks an hour. Twice as much as the Prime Minister.

But Tony Gibson is no Stakhanovite trojan, toiling 26 hours a day down in the mines. He has not cured the common cold. He has not found the Higgs boson. He has not discovered the secret of cold fusion. He has not brought peace to the Middle East. He has not saved Greece.

Mr Gibson has not invented, built, made or created anything. He is a mere manager, one of the parasitic, self-anointed ticket-clippers who have driven Western capitalism to the wall. You know his kind well: the corporate ciphers - the 'blue sky thinkers', 'benchmarkers' and 'game changers' - who murder Shakespeare's language with their talk of synergies, efficiences and core competencies. Who circle the wagons and connect the dots and pluck the low-hanging fruit.

Well, Mr Gibson, your management style is hardly 'best practice'. You have manufactured a crisis that has cost your employers - THE RATEPAYERS OF AUCKLAND - millions of dollars. You have now cost 292 workers their jobs.

It would be bad enough if the Ports of Auckland were a private company and you and your 'management team' ( were stealing off shareholders. Instead you're bludging off us. That's right: you and matez have your snouts in the public trough, your bloated salaries funded by ordinary working Aucklanders. It's a rort and now it's time you and your coterie were held to account. There is no room in New Zealand for Marryattism. The country can't afford it.

And so this group wants to see Mr Gibson's wages amended to a level commensurate with his talent, vision and performance. Say 100 grand a year. His underperforming underlings might be worth half this. Of course, they will all be sacked first, and then invited to reapply for their old jobs. Oh, and they will all be on flexible rosters. They'll be informed of their working hours each Monday.

While our primary concern is to expose this asinine cult of managerialism, here are some links that are worth your time.

First, the facts. A response from the Maritime Union to the 'fact sheet' produced by the Ports management (again, stellar use of public money by the POA):

The sacked workers tell their story:

This managerialist chicanery is nothing new, hardly original. It's 1951 all over again:

An excellent story by the Listener's Ruth Laugesen on excessive executive remuneration:

Chris Trotsky's stirring call to arms:

We're neither for you, nor against you' weaseled Walter Nash back in '51, when he was asked to stand beside the waterside workers. In the words of the late, great Jock Barnes, "Mr Nash has the guts of a filleted whitebait, the morals of a marauding tomcat."

And so a last thought for our Mayor. Those who sit on the fence all day get munched nuts.

Chris Trotter said...

I'd need to hear or read some historical evidence for the claim that the wharfies dogged on the miners in the early 1950s, Mary.

The Miners Union and the Waterside Workers Union stood side-by-side throughout the Waterfront Lockout of 1951.

The scab unions set up on the waterfront by Sid Holland's National Government may have dogged on the miners, but the NZWWU?

I don't think so.

SHG said...

The ships are still sailing past. There’s still only a handful of useless scabs sitting on their hands.

That's funny, by loading up the port live stream I can see ships being unloaded by efficient workers day and night.

Maybe it's faked!

AnonWgtn said...

Mike Lee as Mayor would have shown real support for the Union.
And Brown will sadly get in again next election ?

Anonymous said...

The privileged few rant against the idea of democracy and hate those who believe that human beings are more than disposable resources.

A thousand have been locked out by the Tally family. Three Hundred at the port are declared redundant by a board of seven. Over a hundred from CMP Rangitikei were locked out by a board of 8 - all of whom represent incredibly wealthy interests.

When such a tiny few have unrestrained power over the lives of others it is clearly a dictatorship. The Ports dispute questions if the people of New Zealand have inherent value apart from their usefulness to the most wealthy. It questions if people are destined for servitude and obedience to sociopaths who are unable to value anything above their own self-interest.

Standing together is the basis of democracy just as it is the essence of a union. As the growing winds of the economic crisis blow we will all be forced to decide with whom we stand. Kia Kaha


Kumara Republic said...

If anyone's got aces up their sleeves, it'll have to be the MUNZ's global buddies in the ITF and ILWU.

mary said...

Chris, the incident I am talking about between the miners and the wharfies took place after the '51 strike.

The deal had been that the miners would go out with the wharfies, and then the miners would strike later on with the wharfies in support.

The miners struck a year or so later, the wharfies didn't give support and were widely spoken of, in our community at least, as 'bloody scabs'. My father refused to let any of my mother's wharfie relatives near the house after that, on pain of being decked.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a degree to run a straddle or a crane and in that respect stevedores are not uniquely skilled.
There will be thousands lining up for jobs at the port. These people are more easily replaced than you can imagine.

pclarebu said...

I have the solution - ASSET SALES - if the POA was not owned by the council and the Mayor not having to act in the interests of Joe Blog rate payer then he would definitely be marching shoulder to shoulder with the wharfies. This is the problem when political interests get mixed in with commercial endeavours - how do you apportion the political support? A conflict of Interest I guess, made worse by the fact that the NZ voting public seem to flip flop every few years. I wonder if Banksie will be available again in a few years time - we seem to have such wonderful choice in political figures and good luck to them I would not have a bar of it - neither would I have a bar of the unions (another political body)

Scott said...

So Mary thinks MUNZ's case against POAL is invalid because a) the fake union which Patrick Fintan Walsh and Sid Holland organised after smashing the watersiders in '51 welshed on some obscure agreement with the United Mineworkers Union a year or two later and b) she doesn't like the compulsory unionism legislation which Labour brought in for a couple of years in the late 1980s - legislation which was dictated by Ken Douglas and the bureaucratic leaders of the FOL/CTU, not wharfies (Jock Barnes was always an outspoken opponent of compulsory unionism).

What a perverse way of reaching a view about an important current conflict!

Anonymous said...

"A negotiated settlement where both sides make concessions is better than a war where the biggest looser will be the weakest party before the law, and in this case it's the employee"

Ok then, exactly what concession did POA offer?

Peter Pumpkinhead said...

Atlas prepares to shrug...