Productivity Commission Report ‘a dishonest document’

Something called the productivity commission has put out a report advocating changes to the way New Zealand’s ports and airports are operated.

It’s a dishonest document.

Although it says that our ports need a big shake-up, the report admits that it hasn’t done any research to back up its stand.

It says it’s all about efficiency and productivity, but the commission gives no evidence of inefficiency. That’s because the real purpose of the exercise has to be hidden. It’s about putting privatization of our ports and airports on the agenda.

Instead of facts based on observation, the report asks a lot of leading questions. They’re phrased in a code which its ‘free trading’ mates can translate.

There are 88 pages of questions. They boil down to:

Are present labour practices inflexible? In other words, say yes. Get rid of any union presence in our ports and casualize labour.

Is the present public ownership of ports efficient? As it stands, councils have to consider four outcomes. These are economic, environmental, social and cultural. But exporters and importers need to move products as quickly and cheaply as possible. So should owners of ports have to worry about that environmental, social and cultural stuff?

That’s a no.

Are there too many ports now?

That’s a yes. The answer will be to have one big hub port, probably either Auckland or Tauranga, and not fuss about the rest.

Would one vertically integrated operation work better than the present mass of small, competing ports and competing owners? How can we compete on the global market, where costs are cut relentlessly?

That answer’s obvious. By selling public ownership to one big outfit to run the whole show, from farm gate to consumer.

That’ll almost certainly be a big foreign transnational with no mandate to worry about exploitative labour practices, dangerous traffic movements, vibration, noise - or any of the potential hazards of transport - with no checks by New Zealand authorities.

The report is meant to grease the way to privatizing our ports and abandoning the ones the foreign masters don’t think will make them enough bucks.

That’s why the language is coded. The government has no mandate to sell off more public assets. There’s no demand to send even more of our wealth offshore. New Zealanders don’t support closing down regional ports or using our ports and airports to boost profits for foreign corporations.

It’s not just transport that’ll be affected. If this so-called productivity and efficency is enacted, we can say goodbye to more of our ability to clean our environment through socially responsive planning to create greener transport or well-planned coastal towns. It’ll be us versus them.




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Some Background
>Maritime Union has strong views on transport productivity inquiry
>It's our port - and that's how we like it
>NZ Productivity Commission questions port ownership in NZ
>Productivity Commission inquiry topics announced (Govt)
>Commission to put ports ownership under spotlight

Embattled Colombian Unionists Rally Against ‘Free Trade’


Gathering with fellow unionists in Washington, D.C., Jose Hugo Yanini speaks firmly about labor rights in Colombia. But a few weeks ago, the industrial janitor and shop steward feared that he soon might never utter another word.

Yanini, who is campaigning with SEIU and other groups against the pending U.S.-Colombia trade agreement, is a typical target in his home country. Last month, on his way home from collective bargaining talks, labor activists report, he got the anonymous phone message that every Colombian union activist dreads: "Tell that man that he should be careful with his tongue or we will cut it out."

So far, the case hasn't been fully investigated and the public doesn't know who was behind the menacing call. But people do know Yanini's boss: the multinational company Sodexo, a major provider of food and custodial services in the U.S. and other countries, and a notorious union-buster at home and abroad.

What brought Yanini and other Colombian unionists to Washington is a simple demand that the U.S. simply not continue to do business with a country where speaking out for labor rights can be a death sentence.

Read the rest 

Workers’ rights, not corporate rights

Resisting the race to the bottom on working conditions

The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), an network of unions, church, environment, health and other community groups, has produced a flyer addressing the issue for workers arising from free trade agreements

“Trade agreements should” the flyer reads “be underpinned by enforceable commitments to basic labour rights as agreed by most governments through the United Nations International Labour Organisation.” 

“We want governments in the Trans-Pacific trade agreement to commit to enforce these rights, including freedom to join unions, the right to collective bargaining, no forced labour, no child labour and no discrimination in the workplace”.

Without implementation of basic rights at work, free trade agreements can lead to a race to the bottom on working conditions.