David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Port protesters hit Auckland streets

Around 2,000 protesters set out from Britomart this afternoon in a show of support with Ports of Auckland workers.

A boisterous and determined mass of marchers waved signs saying: "Len Brown is a scab", and a multitude of flags, indicating international support the workers have received.

It came as Sydney wharfies went on strike in a show of solidarity with the Maritime Union of New Zealand workers, who were sacked by the port last week.

The march headed off from to the strains of Dave Dobbyn's Loyal on its way to the port site a kilometer away.

Despite the numbers, former left wing MP Willie Jackson described the turnout as "disappointing"

"The union movement has to really get out and support these guys," said Jackson.

"The CTU (Council of Trade Unions) needs to mobilise these unions a bit more. There's a challenge for the CTU, these guys deserve their support."

He said he was angry at Auckland mayor Len Brown's stance on the issue.

"A lot of people like me voted for Len last time. I won't vote next time."

Among the marchers was Gary Russell, 57, who spent 34 years working on ships.

Russell said he was there to support the POA workers, among those working in other industries such as the hotels, where he now works.

He said: "It's not like everyone is fighting for good money, they're fighting for conditions that have been there for 30 years. I've been a worker all my life and belonged to unions all my life. If it wasn't for the unions, I wouldn't have had the conditions I've enjoyed all these years."

Stephen, 44, and Clare, 37, Millham were at the march with their three young children.
Clare said the family had come to support the ports workers because she was "appalled that there doesn't seem to be any support for workers in this country".

Clare, who attended anti-nuclear and Springbok marches as a child, said the march was an important learning experience for her children.

"It just seems the port boss doesn't seem interested in listening at all. It seems the environment has turned against supporting the workers in any case at all."

- Herald on Sunday

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