Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Whole Truth

I don't mind having a good debate with a political opponent, but am increasingly frustrated by the practice of those of the populist right who insist on presenting information that is inaccurate or misleading as if it is undisputable fact.

We've had it with Brash's claim that the government was providing Maori and Maori only with'tangihanga leave' in the new Holidays Act (it simply doesn't exist in the Act), we've seen it with vague wording from correspondents of the right suggesting that the sameAct increases the amount that has to be paid to an employee on a public holiday by 250% (ignoring the fact that a compensatory day in lieu has been in place for decades), and now the man with the incredible shrinking poll rating, Mr Rodney Hide, is running with the hoary old chestnut about the Employment Court running amok and granting ridiculous awards to lazy workers.

In this case however, Mr Hide has run into a problem - someone has checked up on the facts. Dog Biting Men has discovered that in the case referred to by Hide, in which a teenage employee received a $10 000 compensation payment, the employer didn't bother to show up to the Employment Authority Hearing! Nor did they file a brief of evidence.

Seems to me that the old right wing mantra about responsibilities going hand in hand with rights is appropriate here. You have a right to have your side heard - but the responsibility to put the case is yours.

This union organiser can also confirm that money does not flow like a river whenever NZ employees take personal grievances. The average payout is around $4000, and that of course takes into account the fact that generally, it is only the severest cases which actually procees through the system. Most people who are treated poorly, bullied out of a job, or harrassed at work, simply don't have the knowledge or emotional energy to take PGs.

When they do, the payouts aren't that big either. I recall dealing with an appalling case of employer neglect, which left a single parent of 3 crippled with severe OOS down one side of their body, and unable realistically to work for years.The company's response was to bully and isolate this person, and eventually try to dismiss them. The payout in that case was similar to that received by Rodney's surly fish n' chip shop employee.

The person I refer to was a "working kiwi trying to get ahead", but somehow I doubt Rodney will be championing their cause.

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