Ports of Auckland is employing Jon Mayson, the former Port of Tauranga chief executive who helped set up more flexible labour relations at Port of Tauranga, as a consultant.
A Ports of Auckland spokesperson told BusinessDesk Mayson was assisting with its plan to contract out labour.
Ports of Auckland has requests for proposals out with potential new labour suppliers which are due back by the end of the month. The port expects to make a decision in principal about whether or not to outsource labour in early February after which it will consult.
Mayson was chief executive of Port of Tauranga from 1997 to 2005 and knows the background of labour relations in New Zealand’s ports better than most.
He was assistant operations manager at Port of Tauranga and was seconded to a group that drove through reform of Port of Tauranga’s labour relations in 1990.
New Zealand ports were deregulated in 1989. Harbour Boards gave up control and commercial port companies were created. Some were ultimately partially listed on the sharemarket but most remained council owned.
A Waterfront Industry Commission, which administered the employment of workers, was disbanded and ports had the opportunity to set up new labour relations.
Port of Tauranga has consistently argued that it took the opportunity up more than any other port.
Mayson was involved with a battle that lasted 34 days in 1990. Port of Tauranga won the ability to buy labour from four competing stevedoring companies and there was no national collective contract.
Port of Tauranga went on to set up a container terminal that was dismissed for years as a white elephant but ultimately grew to rival Auckland.
Ports of Auckland employed its own labour for its large container handling business. It already outsources the handling of some non-containerised cargo to outsiders, one of which is C3, a company owned by Port of Tauranga and by Australian logistics company Asciano.
Eyebrows were raised when Mayson missed out on a board appointment to the Port of Tauranga after stepping down from his executive role. He is now a director of the C3 joint venture.
The Maritime Union has condemned the outsourcing plan, arguing outsourcing is an attack on workers’ basic rights.
Strong statements of support for port workers had been received from the Council of Trade Unions and affiliated unions and the International Transport Workers Federation.