The Maritime Union is calling for Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson to go following a damning report which found systemic problems with health and safety under his watch.
In a three-year period, two port workers lost their lives due to accidents on the wharves and a speeding pilot boat accidentally struck and killed an ocean swimmer.
Gibson and port chairman Bill Osborne today accepted the findings of the report and accepted they had not being doing enough to keep staff safe.
"I now expect Ports of Auckland to implement these recommendations without delay and more importantly to hold management to account on monitoring and compliance," Osborne said.
Maritime Union national secretary Craig Harrison said the independent report by Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ) confirmed everything the union has said about the failure of port management to keep staff safe over several years.
"There is no confidence in the chief executive and the board has not done its job," said Harrison, who said the first step should be to replace Gibson.
Speaking at a press conference today, Gibson said he has no plans to resign, saying his focus is making sure the wrongs that have been done are put right.
Gibson said he will stay in the job as long as the board has faith in him.
Osborne said the board has confidence in Gibson and senior management's commitment to drive forward on every recommendation in the report.
He said there are two broad themes that stand out in the report that need addressing - making improvements to safety management systems to ensure work is always carried out safely, and transforming company culture to create a strong safety culture.
At an earlier press conference, Mayor Phil Goff said the question of confidence in Gibson is a matter for the board.
"I don't hire and fire the chief executive," he said.
Auckland Council owns 100 per cent of the port company but under the Port Companies Act it does not have oversight of operational matters at Ports of Auckland.
Osborne and Gibson said the port company has to face the difficult truth of poor relations with the Maritime Union, which had been a barrier to improving safety.
However, Gibson singled out the union and other people for trying to undermine an automation project at the port - highlighting a long-standing fractious relationship between management and the union.
Harrison said any suggestions in the report that poor relationships between union members and port management were partly responsible for the failures to improve health and safety were wrong.
"The only problem is the Maritime Union's ongoing campaign for safety at the port was disregarded and sidelined by management," he said.
Seven left-leaning councillors have also added their voice to criticism of behaviour at the port, saying the report is a reflection of unacceptable health and safety practices.
"This is a sensitive workplace for many workers, who are in a high-risk environment," said councillors Shane Henderson, Chris Darby, Pippa Coom, Efeso Collins, Richard Hills, Cathay Casey and Josephine Bartley.
"The reviewers make a number of recommendations to improve health and safety at the Ports, including new requirements for the Ports chief executive to prioritise safety over productivity and profitability, improve trust and communication between management and staff, and for a new health and safety manager to report directly to the chief executive and the Board," Goff said.
The inquiry was led by CHASNZ chairman Roger McRae and funded by the port company.
Key recommendations of the review include:
• Requirements for the POAL chief executive to prioritise safety over productivity and profitability, improve communication and engagement with staff on health and safety, help change risk behaviours, and resource corrective actions.
• An increased focus on safety for Ports leaders and management.
• Improving the relationship with the Maritime Union of NZ.
• Improving trust and engagement between executive management and the frontline workforce about health and safety expectations.
• Appointing a health and safety leader at POAL, reporting to the chief executive, to reset the Port's approach to health and safety.