Global union the ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) today described POALs lockout decision as "unbelievable, unlawful and practically suicidal".
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: "It's like watching a car crash in slow motion. Do Richard Pearson and Tony Gibson have a death wish for this port? Just when a negotiated settlement was within reach they have trampled on those hopes and issued a lock out notice."
He continued: "The thugs in this dispute are in the boardroom at POAL: slinging out workers, locking out workers, trying to bring in strikebreakers from outside New Zealand to replace a willing and skilled workforce. Gibson and Pearson beggar belief. It's like they want to turn this port into a disaster area."
Crumlin was speaking from the ITF's London headquarters, where the organisation's Fair Practices Committee (FPC) - a high level group made up of global docker and seafarer union representatives - was planning its response to this latest provocation.
"We are today calling on our members to use all lawful means to convince Auckland's mayor and council to step in and replace those in the POAL board responsible for these actions with members who are willing to run this important asset properly for the benefit of the city of Auckland and its citizens."
"We are also forming an international crisis mission to investigate the management-engineered crisis in POAL and meet with the city's mayor, as well as further investigating the use of labour supply companies to break strikes and drive down conditions in the ports industry in New Zealand and internationally."
Crumlin concluded: "Today's decision by POAL's chairman and CEO to crush the hopes and chances of a solution that was so close just yesterday has shown that they are not fit to be running this enterprise. The port of Auckland is community owned. That community has been sold out. Even those who have supported the management so far are now realising that they are defending the indefensible."
International Transport Workers' Federation, Fair Practices Committee
MOTION ON THE PORT OF AUCKLAND
Moved by: Paddy Crumlin MUA
The Fair Practices Committee of the ITF, meeting in London on 22 March 2012:
1. NOTES that yesterday, progress had been made in pursuit of a negotiated settlement to the dispute in Auckland, where 300 wharfies had been given notice of redundancy,
2. NOTES also that ITF affiliates, particularly the Dockers' and Seafarers' Sections, have shown their solidarity with the members of the ITF-affiliated MUNZ, who were involved in a process of legal negotiation and bargaining and prosecuting their legitimate industrial rights
DENOUNCES the unfair practices of companies whose only goal is to maximise profits with no regard for decent work, social dialogue and bipartite or tripartite negotiations between the stakeholders
3. STRONGLY CONDEMS POAL's subsequent lockout today of the port's workers as the latest unacceptable and aggressive treatment of workers at the port that have resulted in the ITF declaring it a 'port of convenience' and have made its management actions a focal point for international concern and action
4. CALLS on all ITF affiliates, particularly in the Dockers' and Seafarers' Sections, to continue to provide all possible solidarity support and in particular
a. To use all lawful means to convince the Mayor and Council to step in and replace those in the POAL board responsible for these inflammatory actions with members who are willing to run this important asset properly for the benefit of the city of Auckland and its citizens
b. To form an international crisis mission to investigate the management-engineered crisis in POAL and meet with the city's mayor.
5. NOTES that as a result of a Judicial Conference call, neither Drake Personnel Ltd, Allied Workforce Ltd, nor any other person can legally perform the work of the striking employees of Ports of Auckland (POAL). Accordingly, the judge has instructed both companies and any potential contractor not to undertake any recruitment or training related to the contracting out of the work at POAL
6. OBSERVES that it would appear that contracting out is being used as a weapon against dockers taking legally protected action consistent with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.
7. CONDEMNS any engagement of any labour hire company to break a strike - a practice that is outlawed in many countries, including New Zealand
8. CALLS upon the ITF to further examine the practice of using labour supply companies - and to investigate the companies involved - to break strikes and drive down conditions in the ports industry in New Zealand and internationally.