Ports negotiator alleged to have sought workers

By Mathew Dearnaley, Bernard Orsman

A protest regarding Ports of Auckland industrial action. Photo / Doug Sherring
A protest regarding Ports of Auckland industrial action. Photo / Doug Sherring

A Ports of Auckland manager who was at the bargaining table with the Maritime Union has been linked to a company hiring non-union wharfies.

The man has allegedly been recruiting staff for a new company, Pacific Crew Holdings Ltd, which was registered with the Companies Office on February 27.

The timing of the new company - nine days before Ports of Auckland announced it would replace 235 striking union members with non-union wharfies - has raised concerns at the Auckland Council, which owns the port company.

A senior council source told the Herald that the allegations could show a pre-determined view by the port management in what were meant to be good faith negotiations with the Maritime Union.

The ports manager did not return calls and the port company declined to comment on the allegations, saying matters relating to the dispute were before the Employment Court.

The port company, which announced on March 9 it had signed contracts with Drake New Zealand and AWF Group to hire non-union wharfies, said no contract had been entered into with a third stevedoring contractor.

But the Employers and Manufacturers' Association said in a newsletter from chief executive Kim Campbell to members on the dispute the port company had "appointed a third stevedore labour contractor", Pacific Crew Group, and that port management was pleased with the "enthusiasm of the Pacific Crew team" of 30 or so non-union workers.

Mr Campbell said what appeared in the update was what the association understood to be the case from talking to the company.

Later, the association's communication manager, Gilbert Peterson, said he had been advised by the port company after the newsletter went out on Friday that it was not the case the company had signed with a third company.

Two companies - Pacific Crew Holdings Ltd and Pacific Crew Stevedoring Ltd - were registered with the Companies Office on February 27. The sole director is Kirk Richardson, a Devonport-based businessman and liquidator.

Mr Richardson did not return calls to his Devonport telephone number, which was answered by a woman as Pacific Crew Services.

KEY DATES

Feb 27: Pacific Crew Holdings and Pacific Crew Stevedoring registered as companies.

Mar 2: Two days of mediated talks end months of negotiations between the port company and Maritime Union.

Mar 7: Port announces it will replace union wharfies with private contractors.

Mar 9: Port announces Drake NZ and AWF Group as two of three companies to hire non-union wharfies.

- NZ Herald

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