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Explanation Demanded On Ports’ Monster Payout To Ex-CEO

The Maritime Union of New Zealand is backing efforts to uncover why a million-dollar payment (on top of salary) was made to former Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson following his resignation earlier this year.

The Mayor and Council has written a ‘please explain’ letter to the Chair of the Ports of Auckland as they were not informed of the decision, despite a ‘no surprises’ policy.

Maritime Union of New Zealand Auckland Branch Local 13 Secretary Russell Mayn says the POAL Board continues to operate outside the effective control of its owners, Auckland City, and must be brought to heel.

He says current legislation insulates managers and Boards from oversight by democratically elected representatives of public and ratepayer owned enterprises and must be changed.

Current POAL Board Chair Bill Osborne, who would have authorized the payment to the departing CEO, also announced his resignation in August.

The previous POAL Board Chair Liz Coutts stepped down in January 2021, after controversially accepting a business award for Chairperson of the Year on 3 December 2020. The following day POAL was sentenced and fined half a million dollars for their role in the death of a young worker at the Port in 2018.

Mr Mayn says a huge, controversial payout to a CEO at the same time as a Board Chair exits is an extremely bad look in the circumstances.

He says POAL and Mr Gibson will be in Court later this month on health and safety charges resulting from the death of a Port worker in 2020.

“The people of Auckland have paid a heavy price for the performance of the Board and Management, and the current legislation has proved not fit for purpose in holding them to account.”

He says the Board must confirm all roles held by Mr Gibson have ended and he no longer represents the Ports and its owners in any position.

Mr Mayn says the Maritime Union will campaign for worker representation at Board level, which is an established best practice in a number of European countries.

“This would go a long way to ending the culture of impunity and the club mentality that operates now at the Board and senior management level.”

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