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Thursday, November 22, 2012

TRUE GRIT- a Wharfies' story.

Comrade Dave Phillips writes on the eve of renewed action at Ports of Auckland 


As a Union official, it never comes easily being involved to yet again advocate industrial action when you have just come off the back of a lengthy period of strike and lockout but when you are faced by a feral employer who places no value in those they employ who seeks to undermine the hard won conditions of employment all for the sake of profit the options become much narrowed.
To sta

nd amongst men and women with high values and principles that are forced to look deep within their moral conscience to make the hard decisions that they know could have huge ramifications for themselves and their families. The sombre mood and steely look around the meeting room as hands were raised on mass is something I will never forget.
The measure of these men is not by the silver Judas dollars jingling in their pocket as some have willingly grabbed but it is the demonstration of intestinal fortitude to future proof an industry for those that come after to insure that the conditions of employment reflect the job security that those who came before stood up and fought for. These are modern day New Zealand Working-class heroes. I am sure back in 1951 the Wharfie was faced with the same dilemma of indecision and fear of uncertainty but by the thousand and with local and international support the majority stood strong.
The problem for these modern day heroes is that on a weekly basis their rights at work are under attack by a Tory government hell-bent on a third world labour market. A workforce with a supressed voice, a workforce with no right of recourse, a workforce at the feet of the employer, a workforce stripped of fundamental rights in the workplace. Our MUNZ members have made the decision collectively to see this dispute to a conclusion.


Against the back drop of the age old war of capitalism versus labour this dispute has been an ideological assault driven by personal agenda and corporate greed. Our members have the hearts and minds of the trade union movement globally as this dispute has unfolded to become one of the worst attacks on labour in modern history in this country. The Maritime Union of New Zealand has a proud history of defending and improving on behalf of not only its own members but unions in general .We have and will always punch above our weight.
Tactics employed in this dispute have been quite despicable to say the least. A needless trail of disciplinaries for MUNZ members. Attacks in the media, portraying them as bullies and thugs without one shred of evidence. Breaches of privacy without accountability. Using Non-union strike breakers to cry foul on television and in the media and the worst one attacking families at the core by mail outs of propaganda trying to pull the wives and children into this dispute.
The repairing of the employer worker relationship will never gain traction without there being a “NEED FOR CHANGE: and that should begin with the removal of those at the top right down to the supervisory staff. Only then can the trust and confidence in the employer start making some positive steps after this long term abuse by those supposed guardians of power.
This dispute has been widely documented and as time goes on the faces of our members who suffered the brunt of this capitalist attack will be forever etched in the history of the New Zealand trade union movement. Sometimes it is hard to gauge whether it’s the battle we will win or the war but I think in this case the war must and will be the trophy.
Consultants, union busters will be driven from this port and ownership will eventually be reclaimed by those that actually work the port to make it the profitable, performing, flexible, vibrant port it has always been with a focus on improving the return not only for the Auckland shareholders but for any shipping line that chooses Auckland as it’s port of call.
In closing this dispute has taken a massive toll in terms of trust, mate against mate and created emotional wreckage beyond belief but above all of it stands our proud members who have demonstrated to the trade union movement both locally and internationally that the high ground morally belongs to them. They have fought the good fight to preserve and enhance on behalf of working-class people in New Zealand.

1 comment:

Glen said...

Moving statement on pride and dignity of union people everywhere. Solidarity to you and your fellow workers from a Canadian building trades 30 year member.