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Ports of Auckland management attack free speech

Ports of Auckland management attack free speech

13 February 2012

The Maritime Union says an attempt by Ports of Auckland Limited to stop it communicating with the public on the current industrial dispute is another sign of an out of control management.

Ports of Auckland have filed for an interim injunction to prevent the Maritime Union and the Save Our Port campaign from communicating their views to Auckland ratepayers.

Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says the action is a direct attack on free speech and democracy, and is designed to intimidate the union into silence.

"Not only do they treat their workforce with contempt and bully tactics including threatening to make them all redundant if they don't sign a collective agreement which removes security of employment, but they now have decided that the people of Auckland - the owners of the port - should not have the right to make up their own minds on the issues."

Mr Parsloe says the management stance was hypocritical on several levels.

POAL management have circulated misleading information about port workers pay, while refusing to release the salaries and perks of senior management, or the cost of consultants they had taken on to do their work for them.

Management have also provided the union with the proposals they have developed for contracting under strict confidentiality provisions to stop public scrutiny of what they are exactly proposing in these contracts.

Mr Parsloe says the Ports of Auckland management have engaged in an extensive PR campaign, paid for the people of Auckland, many of whom deeply disagree with their approach.

"This has included circulating misinformation through extremist political bloggers, and ongoing misrepresentations about the wage rates of Ports of Auckland workers, unfortunately repeated by some media outlets who have not examined these claims."

The Maritime Union in contrast had paid for its communications itself, through the contributions of past and present workers.

Mr Parsloe says the attempt by the port management to gag public debate is even more bizarre since over 350,000 copies of informational letters from the Union have already been distributed to the people of Auckland, to a generally positive response.

"The Port should be robust enough to allow this debate in the public. If it wants to put its energy into dismantling its workforce rather than settling a fair collective agreement, then it should back its plans by releasing its proposals to the public and encouraging the union to also put forward its position. If it has nothing to hide it would not be looking to use the Court to silence these workers."

ENDS

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