What a diference

March 8th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Last night on 3 News they interviewed a couple of staff working at the Port of Tauranga. What a stark difference it was to the . They talked of a culture of getting the job done, and even pride about increasing efficiency.  An extract:

Throughout the Auckland dispute, the has been held up as an example of how Auckland could operate – profits are at a record high, and the port seems to have a contented workforce which gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

David Hone has worked at the port for 18 years and, like 90 percent of employees, is a shareholder in the company.

He says “working in a place that you’re part owner [of]” means he’s more invested in the success of the business.

It’s one of the key reasons the port is so successful, according to chief executive Mark Cairns.

“If you have a stake in a company your behaviour changes when you’re an employee,” he says.

I’m a huge fan of employees being shareholders, and POT seem to be a great example of how well this can work. It is such a shame that Mike Lee a few years back deprived POAL employees of this opportunity.

Profits and efficiency do not need to be the enemy of having a happy workforce. It is just when dinosaur unions get in the way, that it does not happen. Look what has happened at POAL since the unionised staff went off the job:

Ports of Auckland chairman Richard Pearson says flexible rosters increase productivity and the 50 non-union workers have proved that.

“We’re operating at a 25 percent production improvement on what we were achieving 3 or 4 weeks ago before the strike,” he says.

“They don’t want to go slow so they can get another shift, they just want to work.”

Imagine the incentive at the moment. If you can delay a ship for another 90 minutes, then you get an extra eight hours pay.

There’s a lot of focus at the moment on the possible expansion of the Port into the harbour more. POAL makes the point that if they can lift labour productivity by a conservative 20% it would give them the equivalent of two new berths, allowing the Port to accommodate five extra ship calls each week.

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16 Responses to “What a diference”

  1. adze (1,695 comments) says:

    To be fair, poor management can cause an unhappy workforce just as much as a venal union can (and according to a recent study, NZ compares poorly internationally in the management stakes). But good on the Port of Tauranga for being a great place to work as well as being highly productive and efficient.

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  2. virtualmark (1,421 comments) says:

    Hang on … a port operating under a mixed-ownership model is more efficient, has a happier and more motivated workforce, and better labour relations than a port operating under 100% (local) government ownership.

    How can that be???

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  3. dime (8,751 comments) says:

    adze – i think there is a lot of work to do in this country around company culture. we are a bit slow to adapt.

    in saying that, kiwis are quite cynical. speaking in general terms i think its harder to implement a new culture over here than it is in the US or the States. They tend to eat shit up. Kiwis are a bit negative. work in progress though.

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  4. kiwi in america (2,335 comments) says:

    What a contrast to the class warfare whining that Chris Trotter is spewing
    http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/steady-comrades-steady.html

    The MUNZ have been hoist by their own petard.

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  5. JeffW (303 comments) says:

    TV3 must have been disappointed with the response. It’s a wonder they showed it.

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  6. anonymouse (651 comments) says:

    The longer this debacle continues the slimmer Len Brown’s chances of getting elected in 2013…..

    The left will not forget him sitting on his hands asking for the port to double its rate of return while contracting out its workforce,

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  7. kiwi in america (2,335 comments) says:

    Len Brown’s situation is the classic conundrum when leftist ideology meets commercial reality. Len will be hating being boxed into this ‘damned if he does – damned if he doesn’t’ corner. Watching the left turn on him is better then the price of going to the opera.

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  8. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Noting this:

    Imagine the incentive at the moment. If you can delay a ship for another 90 minutes, then you get an extra eight hours pay.

    And working on the precarious notion that the inference of manipulation for financial gain may be true, I ask, have the incompetent management staff who allowed this situation to occur been fired or otherwise penalised?

    Or, like incompetent managers the world over, have they received handsome bonuses and/or severance packages?

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  9. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    I’m always amazed when someone like Chris comes out with commentary like that. It’s quite astounding how much someone can live in the past.

    Luc, in a genuine mixed ownership model or sharemarket owned model, there might be some penalties for poor management. I agree with you, in government ownership there often isn’t.

    As to whether the management were incompetent, according to many on here the management (sometimes previous management, sometimes current management) should legitimately buckle to what the union ask for – particularly given they’re owned by the council / the people. So your position is that those previous managers should have said no? And perhaps precipitated a strike? And then fired the staff. Exactly like is happening now and the left are decrying?

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  10. KevinH (1,128 comments) says:

    As with DPF I believe that the mixed ownership model is an excellent method of incorporating employee’s into company culture as stakeholders, thereby giving employee’s a more defined sense of purpose and increasing an employee’s motivation.
    Internet companies Google and Facebook practice this business model to good effect and enjoy a high level of success as a result.
    DPF is also correct in stating that Mike Lee missed the boat in not introducing a similar system at POAL, it may have lead to a different outcome than the one that has occurred in the last few days. However it is never to late to consider this model and perhaps management may give consideration to it during the review process.

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  11. Monty (944 comments) says:

    I think the key point here that is missed is the benefits to the whole economy from an efficient port. The cost of business comes down. Business becomes more efficient – better profits, expansion of productivity, more jobs through the region. (and there would still be port jobs – maybe even more than currently employed. (just not scum bag whinging unionists)

    I just love the way MUNZ has led the gulible union members to the edge of the wharf and thrown them in the freezing cold water.

    Maybe when the soon to be unemployed and very unemployable unionists finally get a job as a truck driver, they will understand what real work is about, and the true worth of their economic contribution and market demand for their limited skill set. How do you raise 12 kids on a minimum wage instead of $100k pa?

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  12. graham (2,211 comments) says:

    But … but … but … !!!

    Len Brown ran against that nasty John Banks!!! Remember how desperate the good folk at The Standard were for Len to win? And how they crowed, “Victory!!!” when Len won? “A brighter future, they proclaimed! He’s promising more local democracy, he embraces diversity and fairness. He is our Messiah!

    Their smugness must be coming back to haunt them now …

    Mind you, let’s not forget Penny Bright, who also ran as candidate. If Penny had got in, she would have sorted this. Damn straight.

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  13. Lance (2,309 comments) says:

    @kia
    “Watching the left turn on him is better then the price of going to the opera.”

    Poking oneself in the eye with a sharp stick is better than going to the opera.

    Pity the workers weren’t keen on acquiring a stake hold in the port in exchange for co-operation on flexibility. They might have had a much better argument and greater public sympathy.

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  14. grumpyoldhori (2,410 comments) says:

    Jeez watching those wankers waving signs saying goodbye to their jobs is fucking wonderful.
    Ah those scum rattling a tin on the corner wearing a sign saying, but I am owed $90K for doing fuck all.

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  15. kiwi in america (2,335 comments) says:

    Agree Lance
    Those miserable scabs in Tauranga are happy workers because they own a stake in their vibrant and growing company.

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  16. thor42 (770 comments) says:

    Yep – seeing that headline that POAL had made the MUNZ guys redundant was **great!** POAL will now be able to bring in the kind of flexibility that most NZ workplaces have had for the last 20 years or so.

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