'We are worried' - Maritime Union disappointed to have little input into Ports of Auckland safety review

There is “a lot of apprehension” among Maritime Union of New Zealand's members ahead of the release of the Ports of Auckland health and safety review later this morning.

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Maritime Union of New Zealand secretary Russell Mayn said CEOs and boards aren’t getting taken to task over deaths at the Ports of Auckland. Source: Breakfast

Maritime Union of New Zealand's Auckland branch secretary Russell Mayn told Breakfast the union had “very minute input into the review”, which he hadn’t seen.

The review, was initiated by Auckland Council following the death of Pala'amo Kalati, who was crushed by a container aboard a ship, on an overnight shift last August.

Kalati‘s death came less than two weeks after the company admitted a health and safety charge at the Auckland District Court, following the death of a 23-year-old straddle crane driver, in 2018.

The council’s review is being released at 9am, when Auckland Mayor Phil Goff will hold a media conference that will be live streamed on the 1 NEWS website.

“We’re very keen to run through it and see what it brings out for our forward-going safety for our members at the Port of Auckland,” Mayn said.

“We are disappointed as a major stakeholder to not have seen it, and to be quite truthful, we have had very little input to it as well so there is a lot of apprehension in amongst our membership.”

“It was a bold effort from the city council to call for the health and safety, we applaud them for that, but a major stakeholder down there is a representative of workers, to have very, very minute input into it, it’s extremely disappointing for us.”

Mayne said productivity had been prioritised over health and safety over a decade.

“Over the last 8 to 10 years there has been a definite change in direction where productivity, long hours of work, excessive work has become the norm,” Mayne said.

“If you rallied against that then you were pictured as being lazy and uncooperative.”

“You were removed from skill positions, you were accused of using health and safety as an industrial tool, that’s putting it bluntly.”

Mayne said the port had overseen “a systematic failure of health and safety over a number of years when they have received continual warnings from health and safety experts.”

“We hope it’s a hard-hitting report that means as we go forward our members can look forward to going home at the end of the day.

“What we’re saying, is if CEOs, chairpersons, and boards aren’t taken to task for these deaths, they’re just going to keep going on.

“Until there’s corporate manslaughter or some change in legislation to make this so health and safety is taken seriously, we are worried that there won’t be any changes.”

Mayne had no faith in current Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson.

“To be brutally frank, no, there has been two deaths there, the port is chaotic at the moment to say the least,” he said.