Statement by Chair of Accountability and Performance Committee, Cr Richard Northey, at the Committee Meeting, 9 February 2012

The concerns I believe that Auckland Council as owner on behalf of Auckland residents and businesses can legitimately have about the Ports industrial dispute are relatively narrow ones:

1. Both the Maritime Union and Ports of Auckland very much need to make every effort to resolve the dispute speedily and fairly and to achieve more efficiency, and to negotiate in good faith. The obligation to negotiate in good faith is a clear legal requirement and moral obligation and both sides, particularly the Port Company that Aucklanders own, need to negotiate in good faith to achieve a settlement.

2. Many Auckland businesses, farmers and workers owe their viability and livelihood to having an efficient and effective Port operating in Auckland. I am concerned at the risk that major disruption of the Port operation, particularly if it came as a consequence if the Port Company were to act to contract out the workforce, could severely harm Auckland manufacturing and exporting businesses and their workers. The Port Company should make every effort to achieve a good new collective agreement because of the potential damage to the Auckland economy that could well result from acting to contract out the workforce.

3. Medium term disruption of the Ports operation would also risk the Auckland Council’s dividend and total income and lead to a significant cutback in Council services or alternatively a rate rise.

4. I support the Port Company seeking to make the work practices of the Port more flexible to make an already efficient Port of Auckland more efficient and effective. However, a directly employed and fully engaged workforce is preferred because it materially contributes to that objective. If better efficiency can be achieved through the collective agreement negotiations, having a directly employed workforce using their skills, experience and offering proposals for further improvements can be secured for us all to benefit.

Contact:  Cr Richard Northey, Richard.northey@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz,

027 247 9662

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