When the Alliance party collapsed in the late nineties its activists headed in two directions: into the Greens to turn the environmentalists red, and into the unions to rebuild them*.
We know how successful they were in the former. The wave of strikes now slowly engulfing the country is a sign their latter work is also bearing fruit, with the Ports of Auckland dispute the front line. But despite everyone’s natural wish to take sides, neither side in this dispute really deserves any support.
Despite its importance to Auckland business, Ports of Auckland Ltd is very far from a commercial operation. Instead it’s just a department of local government, with everything that implies. Its pursuit of dividends above commercial rates is one clue. Its desire to build landfill almost across to Devonport, despite the wishes of virtually everyone in the city, is another. Ports of Auckland Ltd is just another example of the extent to which businesses nominally owned “by the people” actually make “the people” impotent.
But their adversaries in the dispute are little better. Unionists labouring under the illusion that they own their jobs, which they don’t. That the purpose of Ports of Auckland is to provide them with a regular salary, which it isn’t. That their welfare is more important than that of the Port’s customers, which it’s not. That their interests outweigh the interests of every other worker in the city, and in other ports and in other cities, which they shouldn’t.
Further, the low-lifes involved in union protests are not above using violence to pursue their ends, indicated by their verbal and physical intimidation on Saturday of two harmless youngsters counter-protesting the pro-union protest—intimidation to which the police, as they routinely do when the violence is union-based, turned a blind eye.
Get rid of the laws giving unions the “rights” to intimidate and to stop commercial operations, and bring back unionists more concerned with promoting the welfare of their members than their own leftist ideology, and I’d be more interested in supporting their cause. And get government out of the business of port management so management actually has to listen to their customers and neighbours instead of being quarantined from their concerns, and I might start caring about them more too.
In the meantime, I call for a plague on both their houses. Neither deserves to survive.
* * * * *
* To rebuild them, and to find and radicalise impressionable youngsters—which is why their activism began with work on minimum wages and “Youth Rates,” the simplest means by which to develop young activists for their poisonous cause.