Redline coverage of the Waterfront dispute

Read our coverage of the dispute at the Ports of Auckland  with the employer sacking the striking workers in order to introduce casualisation and undermine a number of hard-won conditions.

By Daphna Whitmore

Not so long ago picket lines were battle grounds. Any lengthy strike would end up in a stouch as employers tried to ferry in strike breakers. In 2000 that changed with the Employment Relations Act banning outside strike-breakers. National has tinkered with the Employment Relations Act, making tweaks here and there at

by Daphna Whitmore

Chris Trotter has an interesting piece on his blog about the role of propaganda in the Port dispute. He argues that it was pretty much decisive in getting the wharfies into a better position now.

While the PR war was being waged vigorously on both sides how decisive has it been?

His argument, in sum, is that public opinion stopped the government backing the Ports of Auckland bosses. The trouble is it’s pure speculation that the government was hovering in the background getting ready to step in. Further, he tends to overlook the passive nature of the public support. In fact, it has been more sympathy than

by Daphna Whitmore

It’s been a humiliating day for Port bosses Pearson and Gibson. The pair have seen their plans to smash the watersiders come unstuck. Weeks of strike action showed the determination of the wharfies. Out of nearly 300 workers just 30 turned scab in this dispute. With the port at almost a standstill […]

by Mark Muller

Paddy Crumlin, president of the International Transport Federation, spoke to the locked out wharfies today as they got their first pay in five weeks. He is an inspiring speaker and spoke forcefully about the Port Company – a public company – where the bosses are using the laws to suit themselves. Paddy noted […]

Whose port?

Posted: 29 March, 2012 by daphna in Ports of AucklandProtestWharfiesWorkers Rights 

There’s a rowdy protest going on outside an Auckland City Council meeting in Manukau right now (11am). Protesters are chanting “Whose Port? Our Port!” They are calling for the Council to dump the Ports of Auckland Board for trying to sack the 300 unionised workforce and now locking them out. The Council moved the meeting to […]

by Philip Ferguson

The Ports of Auckland dispute has shown yet again – as if any more proof should really be necessary – that it is absolutely futile for workers to support Labour, give the Labour Party money or have their unions affiliated to the outfit.  While the left and union movement rally around the […]

Wharfies stuck in no man’s land

Posted: 28 March, 2012 by Admin in At the coalface, Local government, New Zealand history, Protest, Unions – NZ, Wharfies, Workers history, Workers Rights, Workers’ strikes

by Daphna Whitmore

While the wharfies are “winning” their court cases they are not back at work. The court dramas may go on for many weeks.

The Maritime Union won another court ruling on 27 March, with the judge telling the Port Company it must stop its contracting out activities. There’s a hearing on Friday 30 March to decide if the lockout is lawful.

On Thursday the union members meet with the management. If any get put on the roster to work I’d guess it will be a small handful, that way the scabs maintain the upper hand and the union members are a minority. Or, maybe none will go through the gates and they’ll be left outside but on pay. Read the rest of this entry »

Port dispute update

Posted: 26 March, 2012 by daphna in Internationalism, New Zealand history, New Zealand politics, Ports of Auckland, Protest, Unions – NZ, Wharfies, Workers history, Workers Rights, Workers’ strikes

UPDATE: In mediation today the employers are still blocking the return to work of 300 union members. The unlawful lockout is the subject of a hearing tomorrow at the Employment Court.

Paddy Crumlin, president of the International Transport Federation, arrives in New Zealand today, following the lock-out of Auckland port workers last week. The ITF has nearly 700 unions representing over 4.5million transport workers in 153 countries.

Mr Crumlin is also Read the rest of this entry »

Joint media release from 32 Auckland Council local board members

Rally at the port 9am March 23

It’s a win for the wharfies

Posted: 21 March, 2012 by daphna in Wharfies, Workers Rights, Workers’ strikes

by Daphna Whitmore

Breaking news: Staunch union action has forced the Auckland Port company to back down on its plan to sack 300 watersiders and contract out the work. Wharfies will return to work and the company will resume negotiations for a collective agreement with the Maritime Union. The company will stop redundancy plans and will not use Drake or Allied labour hire companies to outsource the wharf work at least for the next four weeks.

Weeks of strike action, international solidarity, wide public support and a growing mood of militancy among unionists have forced the Port bosses to back track.

Go the Bulldogs

Members of the NFL (rugby league) team the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs from Sydney were in Auckland for the weekend to play the Warriors.   While here, team members and their coach gave their support to the striking wharfies on the picket line.  They also very generously donated $20,000 to the strike fund.  (They went on to […]

Breaking the law

Posted: 18 March, 2012 by Admin in Unions – NZWharfiesWorkers RightsWorkers’ strikes

by Daphna Whitmore Tomorrow, as watersiders begin a fourth week of strikes, legal battles are also being played out. The Maritime Union and the Port lawyers will sit down before Employment Court judge Barry Travis. If no settlement is reached, a court hearing on 26 March will go ahead. The union will argue that the […]

by Daphna Whitmore Things are looking up. Enough for a hard core Taylor Swift fan to suggest: “This one is definitely not over yet – if Taylor Swift could be prevailed upon to pop down to the docks for ten minutes before her gig tonight and sing Solidarity Forever and say ‘I support MUNZ’ that […]

Strikers and supporters picketed the Auckland wharves this morning to turn away pilots and linesmen turning up to work. A ship loaded with containers has been unable to berth. This sort of action mobilises the members and makes them more a part of things. It puts the dispute in their hands. It’s had an effect.  It has […]

Around 4000 people marched to support the sacked wharfies on March 10. Union delegates had come from Bluff, Dunedin, Christchurch, Tauranga, Wellington and dozens of other cities and towns to show solidarity. Union leaders from all the ports on the west coast of the United States were there – longshoremen from the ILWU. Around 60 […]

by Don Franks Every morning we get up and switch on the radio or tv or computer to see what’s happening out there. On a good day, the big national news will be just some harmless shite about a celeb gaining a kilo, or a cat stuck up a tree, those days are getting fewer. […]

by Don Franks Few things make me more angry that the sight of a union trotting off to court as a last hope of wining a big dispute. The only bloody winners as well as the bosses are the lawyers. And, I suppose, the union officials, who have ‘done something’ to try and win the […]

by Philip Ferguson Among the workers who will be turning out in Auckland on Saturday to support the Ports of Auckland wharfies will be many firefighters.  And not just from Auckland – firefighters from as far afield as Christchurch will be taking part in the protest rally.  Mike McEnany, the president of the Auckland branch […]

by Philip Ferguson Late yesterday afternoon dozens of members of MUNZ and the RMTU (Rail and Maritime Transport Union) protested in Lyttelton over the attacks on the Auckland wharfies and the use of Employment Court injunctions to make it illegal for workers at other ports to refuse to unload ships which had passed through Ports […]

Poor David

Posted: 7 March, 2012 by Admin in Workers RightsLabour Party NZNew Zealand politics,WharfiesWorkers’ strikesPorts of Auckland

by Don Franks 7 March 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT Labour Leader David Shearer says he is very disappointed in the decision by Ports of Auckland to contract out work on its container wharfs. “This decision – which will cost millions of dollars in redundancy payments – will have a huge effect on the workers and their […]

Supporters of the Auckland port workers and of port workers in Lyttelton are organising a protest in the town tonight, to correspond with the arrival of the Lisa Schulte, a ship that Ports of Auckland wharfies had refused to unload but had been worked by non-union staff and is therefore being boycotted in other ports.  […]

by Don Franks A scab-loaded 14,000-tonne cargo ship sits untouched at Wellington’s wharf, blacked by Wellington wharfies in support of their Auckland comrades. The action is the first such flow-on effect for CentrePort from the Ports of Auckland dispute, after it announced it was expecting an extra 3,000 containers during the first two weeks of […]

by Daphna Whitmore The Auckland port has containers stacked on its wharves but nothing is moving. Outside there’s a picket of maritime workers and union president Garry Parsloe is updating strikers and supporters on the dispute, now in its second week of an indefinite strike. The containers on the port were unloaded by a couple […]

The final session in the initial short series of NZ History talks organised by the Canterbury Workers Educational Association is: The 1951 Waterfront Lockout – then and now speaker: Philip Ferguson 7pm, Tuesday, March 6 WEA, 59 Gloucester St, Christchurch The talk will mainly concentrate on 1951, what happened and how and why, and its […]

by Mark Muller For the past two weeks stores members of First Union (formerly NDU) at Bluebird Foods have been running raffles on the worksite. They wanted to do something to show solidarity with wharfies fighting for their jobs. The union members raised $1120 and delegate Wayne Harrold handed over the money to the wharfies […]

by Don Franks The urgent need for wider workers’ support for the Auckland wharfies has led to the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) launching a major campaign aimed at saving 320 Auckland union wharfies’ jobs. The campaign, called Save Our Port, is fronted by the Maritime Union (MUNZ), with Council of Trade Union’s president Helen Kelly […]

Tuesday Night at the WEA is a new course of talks/discussions, with an initial focus on pages from New Zealand history.  The talks take place at the Canterbury Workers Education Association, 59 Gloucester St, starting at 7pm, Tuesdays, beginning February 14.  Entry is by gold coin donation. Below is the first set of talks: Feb […]

Wharfies’ fight shows futility of unions giving money to Labour

Posted: 23 January, 2012 by Admin in Workers RightsLabour Party NZNew Zealand politics,Unions – NZWharfiesWorkers’ strikesPorts of Auckland

by Philip Ferguson A topic that has come up during the Ports of Auckland dispute has been the relationship of unions, in this case MUNZ, to the Labour Party.  A number of left commentators have noted that MUNZ gave several thousand dollars to Labourite Len Brown’s successful campaign for the Auckland supercity mayoralty, yet Brown […]

Idle speculation

Posted: 20 January, 2012 by Admin in Ports of AucklandWharfiesWorkers RightsWorkers’ strikes

by Don Franks Over a beer on the porch after work tonight I’m idly speculating about the good old days. If the current Port dispute had happened in the ’70s: *Militant unionists would have pressured a reluctant Federation of Labour leadership into convening a Special National Conference. * In Auckland, Wellington and probably Christchurch and […]

by Daphna Whitmore The auditorium of the Trades Hall in Auckland was full with activists and unionists tonight. We were there to hear about the current Ports of Auckland waterfront dispute from the Maritime Union (MUNZ). Garry Parsloe, MUNZ’s National President, is a seafarer. They have a strong union tradition. They are, in fact, 100 percent […]

by Don Franks To his credit, political commentator Chris Trotter has risen to the defence of the Auckland waterside workers (The Auckland Ports Dispute: An Injury To All) and has noted that a defeat for them would be a major, possibly historic setback for the working class. Chris has also raised the question : “What, […]

by Daphna Whitmore Tony Gibson, the Ports of Auckland CEO, wants more women working on the docks. Are we to believe that Gibson’s a great guy who wants to promote women’s rights? Yeah right. Gibson’s vision is of women working in a casual capacity on a wharf where labour is contracted out. Cheap, flexible (for […]

Why wharfies are striking – in their own words

Posted: 12 January, 2012 by Admin in At the coalfaceCapitalist ideologyEconomicsNew Zealand politicsProtestUnions – NZWharfiesWorkers historyWorkers Rights

Text and photos by Simon Oosterman  The media have given plenty of space to Ports of Auckland management, but nobody has canvassed the opinions of those most affected by the company’s decisions, the workers. Here we get behind the news to the men, their wives and the children affected by the Ports of Auckland actions […]

Ports dispute – an issue for all workers

Posted: 10 January, 2012 by Admin in At the coalfaceUnions – NZWharfiesWorkers Rights

by Don Franks This dispute is rapidly coming to a head. It was reported yesterday (January 9) that Ports of Auckland is set to proceed with a proposal to contract out its labour force.  A counter offer tabled on January 6 by the Maritime Union (MUNZ) was rejected by Ports of Auckland, with chief executive […]

Thanks to the Wharfies

Posted: 7 January, 2012 by Admin in At the coalfaceUnions – NZWorkers Rights

by Daphna Whitmore In a few days Auckland wharfies will go on strike again. These guys are heroes. It’s thanks to them that some people in this country have half-decent working conditions. For decades wharfies have stood up and raised the bar and the rest of us have benefited. They make our lives a heck […]

Jock Barnes interview from 1991: part one, part two


  1. […] This is a very important dispute and part of the reason I haven’t been posting much here over the past fortnight or so.  The other blog I’m involved in, the NZ-based Redline, has about two dozen pieces on the Auckland wharfies’ resistance to the Port company’s attempt to smash their union and casualise waterfront labour.  Check out here. […]

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