The National MP has introduced a bill in parliament to let bosses hire strike-breakers. And when he did, he really only had one particular boss in mind.
Ross' recent appearance on The Nation proved beyond doubt that he's taken his advice for this bill from the Ports of Auckland.
In 2011, Ports of Auckland locked out its workers without pay after they rejected an offer of a small pay rise tied to a varying, unpredictable roster where their shifts might be five hours long, or twelve hours long, and they had to be on call at any hour, day or night. This would have wrecked port workers' family lives, and they quite understandably said 'no'.
We now know that before all this happened, Ports of Auckland had already had a proposal drafted to cut costs by replacing their staff with contractors, who wouldn't have job security or redundancy protections or a union to back them up.
And thanks to this week's revelations we now know that even before the lockout, one of PoAL’s managers had started moonlighting for a brand-new company, Pacific Crew, to source non-union contractors to replace locked out port workers. This shows staggeringly bad behaviour on the part of Ports management.
Not surprisingly, the Employment Relations Authority found that Ports of Auckland had deliberately broken the law when they hired contractors to replace the workers they’d locked out, and then fired, for no good reason. Management even had containers moved in front of the fences around the port to hide the fact!
The port workers eventually got their jobs back, because you really can’t fire people just because you want to hire someone cheaper.
Obviously, this wasn’t the result Ports of Auckland was after. So they talked to Jami-Lee Ross about it.
It's no coincidence that he now has a bill in Parliament that would legalise the Ports' unethical behaviour and let them force their changes on port workers and their families.
This shows the hollowness of National's rhetoric about “fairness”. There’s nothing “fair” in letting a boss do anything and everything he wants, and taking away any ability to workers to stand up for themselves.
There’s nothing “fair” in taking away the expectation that everyone’s going to act in good faith when they’re negotiating.
Being able to strike is one of the only powers workers have when they're negotiating for a fair deal at work. In this case it's the only leverage port workers had to defend their right to see their kids grow up and have any sense of security in their lives.
Jami-Lee Ross wants to take that right away because it’s inconvenient for his mates. There's nothing fair or balanced about that.