Good faith? Ports of Auckland doesn’t need any of that…

In Employment Law, one of the more common terms is “good faith”. Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 says all parties “must deal with each other in good faith”.

Given there is no legislative definition of what good faith is in terms of Employment Law, we’ll have to go with the definition provided by the Department of Labour:

In broad terms, this means that both employers and employees must:

  • act honestly, openly, and without hidden or ulterior motives
  • raise issues in a fair and timely way
  • be constructive and cooperative
  • be proactive in providing each other with relevant information and consider all information provided
  • respond promptly and thoroughly to reasonable requests and concerns
  • keep an open mind, listen to each other and be prepared to change opinion about a particular situation or behaviour, and
  • treat each other respectfully

What has happened with the Ports of Auckland saga is quite bizarre. The Ports of Auckland have offered a 10% pay rise to the Maritime Union, with the condition that the current requirement that 50% of staff must be full time, permanent workers, being removed so that every worker will be employed on a casual basis. This was turned down by the Maritime Union, came back with a counteroffer of a 2.5% pay rise with conditions remaining the same.

Meanwhile, Auckland Mayor, Len Brown, makes no real comment on the issue aside from subtle hints that he would be in support of the Maritime Union – not really surprising given his left wing political ties. This is significant though, given the Ports of Auckland is owned by the Auckland Council.

Ports of Auckland have announced that two major clients have removed their business from the Ports of Auckland given the supposed “instability” caused by the actions of the wharfies. Some suggestion has come up that this was orchestrated by the Ports of Auckland, though this has not been proven and most likely will never be proven.

Ports of Auckland’s CEO has suggested that he has been working on this for 11 months and is now tired of the tactics by the Maritime Union. This surprising, given he joined Ports of Auckland, according to their website in “early 2011” and the contract expired in September 2011 – he can’t have been their for more than nine months.

Helen Kelly, head of the Council of Trade Unions went into mediation. She came out saying that it seems there is something going on here that we aren’t aware of, given no matter what the union suggested, the Ports of Auckland refused it point-blanc.

During the Christmas break, the head of the Maritime Union stayed in Auckland trying to negotiate further. That wasn’t possible though, with the CEO of Ports of Auckland spending Christmas in the Bay of Plenty.

Ports of Auckland have also said that they are looking at making the wharfies redundant, at a cost of $8 million then rehiring them as casual workers.

I cannot see any good faith here from the side of the Ports of Auckland. The Maritime Union has tried their best to offer good faith, but the Ports of Auckland seems to be avoiding good faith at all costs. I hope that any redundancy is taken to court as I would say there has been a severe breach of good faith and the redundancy could be considered constructive dismissal.


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Posted on January 14, 2012, in New Zealand Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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