David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Worker wants port's apology for leaking details of wife's death

Cecil Walker, seen on the picket during the port strike, says he feels betrayed when he goes in to work now. Photo / Supplied, Flickr
Cecil Walker, seen on the picket during the port strike, says he feels betrayed when he goes in to work now. Photo / Supplied, Flickr

One of the Ports of Auckland strikers wants a public apology after leaked private information about his wife's death became a weapon in the industrial action early this year.

Crane driver Cecil Walker said his union delegate had received an email from the Privacy Commission which indicated the port was responsible for the leak.

The commission had sought feedback from port management - a step taken when it reaches an adverse finding.

Personal details about the 2008 death of Mr Walker's wife, Michelle, were published on the Whaleoil website after he was featured in a radio interview during the strike, including the amount of leave he took during her illness and details of the port's efforts on behalf of the Walkers and their three children.

Mayor Len Brown, acting for port owners Auckland Council, previously put the port company on notice jobs were on the line over the leak. Last night, a spokesman for Mr Brown said he had asked for a briefing from Auckland Council Investments Ltd, the port-owning council body.

Mr Walker said he wanted a public apology from the port company for the leak and the inquiry findings to be made public. "If they sweep it under the carpet then one of my workmates could be next." He said not knowing who was responsible had removed much of the pleasure of working at the port.

"I used to enjoy going to work. Now, I just feel violated when I go back there. It was personal stuff I thought was between me and them. I thought I could trust them."

Mr Walker had praised the company for its actions during the time of his wife's illness and death. "For them to come out and violate our trust, it made me think they're not the good guy after all."

He said the leak had made public more details about his personal life than even he knew. "I didn't know the exact number of days I had off." The details published included information known to only a small group, he said.

The online leak attracted dozens of comments attacking Mr Walker, including references to his being "ungrateful" and "disloyal".

"These people don't know the full story. They're not in my shoes. It was like receiving hate mail."

Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater, who enjoyed access to the ports during the strike, said the information had been sent anonymously from "multiple" sources. He said he had no regrets over its publication.

A spokesman said the port company could not comment because the Privacy Commission process had not ended..

- NZ Herald

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