Cathy Odgers - Asshole of the Week | The Jackal

8 Jan 2012

Cathy Odgers - Asshole of the Week

Back in December last year, Cathy Odgers claimed that the port of Auckland was being run by Dirty Rich Prick Wharfies. She lied!

At the time the figures she provided to back up her argument looked very dodgy... particularly because she failed to link to where the information had come from. She even deleted my comment specifically requesting that information.

Here's what the repugnant Cathy Odgers wrote:

POAL has generous wage and benefit packages for staff under the Collective Agreement. For the year ended 30 June 2011:
Average wage for a full time stevedore at POAL was $91,480
Average wage for a part time stevedore at POAL was $65,518
53% of full time stevedores (123 individuals) earned over $80,000
28% (43 individuals) earned over $100,000 with the highest earner making $122,000.

Odgers obviously wrote this specifically to try and discredit the strike. However it turns out her figures are a complete fabrication. Today, Matt McCarten wrote in the New Zealand Herald:

A ratty smell was in the air, so I popped into the wharfies' office to ask their president, Garry Parsloe, more.
First, a wharfie on 40 hours a week gets $56,000. The hourly rate is $27. With overtime, some can earn up to $71,000. The union says that to earn $91,000, a worker would have to work additional overtime equal to 32 weeks fulltime in a year.

An hourly rate of $27 isn't much and certainly not excessive. Clearly Odgers is misrepresenting the facts of the matter in an attempt to swing public opinion against the wharfies and their union.

What could be the reason behind Odgers' dishonesty and why would the right wing want to try and ensure the dispute went unresolved? McCarten shines a light on the infection:

When the union negotiators pointed out that half of the workforce were part-timers and casuals so he already had enough flexibility, Gibson responded by saying this was his "best and final offer". He followed up by offering existing casual employees permanent jobs paid at 10 per cent more than the union rate, provided they resigned from the union.
Gibson told the union he had to play hardball as his board of directors insisted that he got a financial return of more than 8 per cent. That's insane. Most ports in the world are losing money because shippers are forcing ports to lower their container rates or they'll go somewhere else. That's what Fonterra is doing now. Despite that, the port still makes close to 6 per cent. The directors wouldn't understand this because only one of them has any shipping experience. The other six are all professional directors. Half have been on the board barely a year and none more than two years. Rodney Hide got rid of the experienced directors.
Has the penny dropped yet? That's right. These directors aren't there to run a port. They're there to sell it. I note that Gibson's key adviser is one of Roger Douglas' ideological mates on privatisation.
It turns out to be a mixture of cronyism and capitalist idealism to privatise the Ports of Auckland that has ensured a continued dispute. That's why resolution is the last thing on Chief Executive, Tony Gibsons' mind.

The ports senior staff and right wing bloggers have been dishonest throughout, with the wharfies and their Union the only ones actively seeking to resolve the issue.

Gibson is lucky. The wharfies will give him a way out this week. They will withdraw all strike action for a modest 2.5 per cent pay rise. Over the next six months, they will negotiate ways that Gibson can get his efficiencies without necessarily cutting jobs. This allows time for common-sense solutions.

So for being a complete bullshit artist and helping ensure the dispute goes unresolved, Cathy Odgers wins an Asshole award, which automatically nominates her for the 2012 Asshole of the year... Hurray!