Ports of Auckland fined $40,000 for using strike-breaking contractors
The Employment Relations Authority has fined the Ports of Auckland $40,000 for illegally employing strike breaking contractors during industrial action at the Port earlier this year.
Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL) broke the law when they employed an overseas engineer at the cost of $10,000 a week to undertake the work of Maritime Union NZ (MUNZ) members. In addition, local contractors were illegally used to carry out engineering work at the Port.
At the time when the multiple breaches of the Employment Relations Act took place in February and March 2012, MUNZ members were on strike and locked out in their battle to stop management contracting out their jobs.
In her decision released yesterday, Employment Relations Authority Member Anna Fitzgibbon said “It is my view that POAL was aware of s97 [editorial note: Section 97 of the Employment Relations Act regarding the Performance of duties of striking or locked out workers] but in order to keep the port operating during the strike, made calculated decisions to breach the provision.”
In deciding the breach of the Act was deliberate and serious, she imposed penalties totalling $40,000 against POAL.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National President Garry Parsloe says the ERA decision places POAL management in an untenable position.
“Instead of focussing on settling a fair collective agreement, the Port embarked on an unprincipled plan to sack their entire stevedoring workforce and replace them with contracted labour.”
He says that now in addition to all the costs of the dispute, Auckland ratepayers are continuing to pay for POAL management’s deliberately unlawful actions.
“Ultimately the costs of POAL’s actions impact on the return to the people of Auckland.”
Mr Parsloe says this week at the Auckland Council Accountability and Performance Committee, the so-called Council Controlled Organisation Auckland Council Investments Ltd (ACIL) indicated that they were not responsible for monitoring the costs of the dispute.
“Someone must hold POAL to account for the costs of this dispute. Who is responsible?”
Despite continual legal findings against them, POAL management are continuing (with the support of the Board) to try to remove employment security from port workers, including by demanding a collective agreement that removes all certainty of rostering and even the current guarantee of every third weekend off.
This dispute has gone on for too long and has cost too much, it is time for POAL to settle a fair and balanced collective agreement with us, says Mr Parsloe.
He says MUNZ members at the Port simply want to have an agreement that provides job security, not sign an agreement that allows their jobs to be contracted out.
“We need an agreement that provides increased flexibility while providing security and certainty to our members to enable them to have time with their family and to work in a safe manner. It is time for the madness to stop and for the Port to be run by a management that values its workforce. Heads must roll – deliberate illegal actions by management compel a firm response from the Board and from the Council.”