[First published on auckland.scoop.co.nz 16 January 2012]
The Maritime Union says many port workers will simply leave the country and go overseas if their jobs are contracted out by Ports of Auckland management.
Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says workers at the Port are telling him that if the Ports of Auckland continues to attack its own workforce, they'll go somewhere where they can get a better deal - like Australia.
He says that Ports of Auckland management are in dreamland if they think that highly skilled, capable workers will hang around to be employed on poor terms and conditions, and chaotic shift work patterns that will destroy their family life.
"Who can blame them?"
He says the workers can't understand how the port is complaining about a day or two of lost work here and there, when the management outsourcing agenda will create massive disruption for years ahead.
Mr Parsloe says the enormous investment that has been made in training a skilled workforce will be wasted if workers leave the port.
He says the obvious effect of contracting out at Ports of Auckland is the creation of a casualized workforce with a collapse in skills, safety standards and conditions of employment.
"You just need to look at Port of Tauranga, where they have had three deaths on the waterfront in the last eighteen months. This is the place they are holding up as the shining example."
Mr Parsloe says there is a serious issue in New Zealand with employers attempting to boost profits by slashing wages and conditions of employment, and the Ports of Auckland dispute was a classic example of this trend.
"You aren't going to get a productive, high skill economy based on continually reducing wages, undermining conditions and ordering people to work around the clock when and if the employer feels like it."