Councillors are questioning why the boss of the council organisation that controls Ports of Auckland has been emailing advice to its media manager about an industrial dispute while saying publicly he would not get involved.
Auckland Council Investments Ltd control the Ports of Auckland and briefed the council on Thursday on its profit from the port over the past financial year.
Auckland Council Investments Ltd chief executive Gary Swift sent the email in late December 2011.
It stressed that key players needed to be kept informed to avoid any political interference, which could affect the aim of the employment negotiations.
Councillors accused him of interfering in the management of the port, telling him that, at the end of the day, the people of Auckland own it.
Mr Swift said the email had been misinterpreted and its intention was on just staying focused on the commercial return.
Both parties in the year-long industrial action are in court-ordered mediation.
Councillor Cathy Casey asked how much the dispute had cost. Mr Swift said he did not know and did not think it appropriate to ask Ports of Auckland for the information.
That outraged Councillor Mike Lee, who told Mr Swift the figure is important. Mr Lee said if the company can't count costs, how can it be trusted to manage the port.