The Waterfront Strike: A Golden Opportunity Being Missed

The longer I have been away from New Zealand, the less interested I find myself in NZ politics.  However, it has been interesting to see the reaction to the waterfront strike there.  I think there has been much chortling on our side of the divide at the ridiculous wages that these workers are paid and the sheer chutzpah of them striking for even more.  But to me these are micro arguments, not macro ones.  There is an opportunity to convey our vision here in the big picture that is being missed.

I say this because it seems like most on the Right have completely missed the point of WHY Ports of Auckland is in a mess.  And it is shameful, because it is so obvious.  Ports of Auckland is in this situation because it is publicly owned.  If PoA was a privately owned company or listed on the stock exchange, there is no way in hell its owners or shareholders would tolerate an average wage of $90k.  We would have a more efficient port, with more jobs for Aucklanders, a better profit for shareholders, and a flow-on to the NZ economy.  Public ownership has led to councillors kicking the can down the road and turning a blind eye to inefficiencies, all aided by a union which has gotten too big for its boots.

We can castigate the union and the workers all we want, but at the end of the day turkeys don’t vote for Christmas and people will always act in their own self-interest.  And in doing so, we ignore the real travesty here, and the real problem – the notion that it is better for some companies to be kept in “public” hands.

Local and national governments should not own companies.  It is a bad idea for nearly everyone except the workers who are creaming it.  Let’s stop being gutless and make the argument.  There, I started for you.  😉

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