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On botox and pet grooming

Written By: - Date published: 3:38 pm, August 8th, 2008 - 41 comments
Categories: ACC, national, spin - Tags: ,

Pansy Wong’s supposed outrage over ACC “shelling out $750,000 for staff to indulge in day spas, manicures, and botox” has nothing to do with the organisation’s health and wellness programmes and everything to do with National’s attempts to prepare the scheme for privatisation.

First off, her attack is utterly dishonest. ACC, like many large employers in both the public and private sector, provides a small annual health and wellness benefit of $250 per staff member. Again, like many large employers, ACC does this through Southern Cross Healthcare’s activa card, which staff use to “buy sports equipment, pay for gym memberships and so on.” Wong has provided no evidence to the contrary.

The card also makes great economic sense. At a cost of just 0.005% of ACC’s total salary bill the activa contribution has led to improved productivity, less sick leave and improved staff retention, leading to a more stable and effective workforce. Pansy Wong and the Nats know all this, but they choose to attack ACC anyway.

Their motivation is simple: National knows Kiwis won’t support privatisation if it means higher premiums and reduced cover, but if all they hear on ACC is National’s cynical PR about taxpayer funds being wasted on ‘botox’ and ‘pet grooming’ then these negative perceptions will become the reality and the public will lose faith in the system, even come to resent it.

Pansy Wong’s ‘expose’ was never about fixing a problem. It was only ever intended to undermine public confidence in ACC in order to soften the ground for privatisation.

41 comments on “On botox and pet grooming”

  1. Draco TB 1

    Personally, I can see where all of those would help staff morale and health and, at $250/person, is damn cheap. Well worth the price IMO.

  2. And it’s just a part of the remuneration package. You don’t hear the Nats bleating because some employees spend their wages on gin, why should they bleat when employees spend another part of their remuneration package on a range of services that promote health and wellbeing?

  3. These sorts of taxpayer rorts are exactly why the ACC should be sold. It is theft pure and simple.

    http://darrenrickard.blogspot.com/2008/08/acc-staff-spending-on-day-spas-and.html

    How can you condone the likes of facelifts and pet grooming for ACC staff when a woman with no limbs is only entitled to a $100,000 payout because Labour capped it at that figure earlier this decade.

    First off, her attack is utterly dishonest. ACC, like many large employers in both the public and private sector, provides a small annual health and wellness benefit of $250 per staff member

    You miss the point entirely. First of all it is taxpayer money, NOT private business, secondly I doubt whether a private company would be dumb enough to hand out these sorts of things to 2000 desk drones, too stupid to get work in a real job.

    ACC premiums were cheaper and there was morer cover under Nationals scheme.

    Nice try though.

  4. Tane 4

    Good point Steve. So many good points, but I had to leave them out to keep it short.

    The Mental Health Foundation’s release is well worth a look:
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0808/S00090.htm

  5. Darren. How is a part of a remuneration package used by many large businesses a rort? And don’t post whole posts from your blog here. I know no-one’s reading them on your blog but we’re not a charity service.

  6. Draco TB 6

    You miss the point entirely. First of all it is taxpayer money,

    Taxpayer money being used to reward people for doing a job. Would you prefer it if we didn’t give them any incentives to work there?

    ACC premiums were cheaper and there was morer cover under Nationals scheme.

    Not in the long term as a lot more claims where ending up in court. There’s a reason why our ACC scheme is the best in the world and it principally seems that’s because it doesn’t have privatization anywhere near it.

    Can it be improved?
    Sure, but it requires evolutionary change and not the revolutionary change that those idiots over at National would bring about.

  7. higherstandard 7

    Tane

    I doubt that there is any evidence that will back up the assertion that the activa contribution has led to improved productivity, less sick leave and improved staff retention, leading to a more stable and effective workforce.

    That aside I have no problem with any workforce receiving benefits – it’s just part of an employment relationship so what’s the issue ?

    You are completely correct that the general public won’t support privatisation of the in work and vehicle cover if it means higher premiums and reduced cover … but that is the 64k question will it mean reduced cover and higher premiums that we don’t know prior to details being released about how it would be structured and the relative costs and benefits.

  8. Im not posting my blogs here Steve, only worthy comments.

    “we’re not a charity service”

    Come on Steve, that is going agaisnt your party’s main mantra-have a heart buddy:)

    Plenty of people read my blog Steve,including collectives from your Labour party, but I don’t have Labour party funding and have only been around for a few months. Give me time. There is only one of me as well.

    Back to the topic at heart. You glide pass the point again.

    Private business is private business. ACC is using taxpayer money to pay for botox and pet grooming for their staff.

    THAT is the difference.

    What about your party passing legislation so that the Microbiologist lady who lost her arms and legs can only get a maximum of $100,000. THAT is obscene without having salt rubbed in the wound by Labour condoning ACC staff in the use of taxpayer money to pay for facelifts.

    Surely even you cant support this nonsense.

  9. fraser 9

    ‘too stupid to get work in a real job.”

    dude – thats just plain offensive

    (no i dont work in the public sector)

  10. Jasper 10

    Darren

    Yes, Im so stupid that I left a private sector job to come and work in the public sector.
    I’ve foregone my healthplan, my super scheme, my voluntary leave days, and 5 weeks leave to come and have none of those.

    Why did I leave?
    Pure and simple. In the private sector, bullying from employees is shunted under the carpet and the complainant “moved” to another area as the Private sector don’t want to know about it.
    In the Public Sector, bullying claims are investigated and followed up on with the bully being placed on watch.

    I wonder how much worse off the Private sector is with not following due process in regards to bullying claims. If the latest ERA figures are anything to go by, it’s a pretty expensive process what with all those PG’s being raised for bullying.

    Stupid? Hardly, Smart: Totally.

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    Darren, as I understand it, Jeannette Adu-Bobie is also having $330,000 costs paid. If you’re going to cherry-pick one case, try and research it so you don’t look like an idiot.

    The maximum lump-sum payment is $117,000, not $100,000; this is what she will recieve.

    If Ms Adu-Bobie stayed in New Zealand, ACC would also pay for all of her treatment, which could be in excess of a million dollars.

    If you went with Tower health insurance, your maximum lump sum would be $20,000, or for a higher premium, $50,000.

    The limit for treatment would be $200,000, or $300,000 for a higher premium, so she would still be $30,000/$130,000 out of pocket on costs.

    I’m afraid you don’t know dick about insurance.

  12. burt 12

    Tane

    So ACC need a private healthcare provider to manage it’s staff wellness benefits? Why do you think that is?

    [burt, it’s just a part of the remuneration package and ACC doesn’t provide health services to Kiwis anyway, it just pays for them. you can do better than this.. SP]

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    So ACC need a private healthcare provider to manage it’s staff wellness benefits? Why do you think that is?

    Because they don’t sell gym gear.

  14. burt 14

    Matthew Pilott

    That is not an answer. Southern Cross don’t sell gym gear either.

    Lets start again.

    So ACC need a private healthcare provider to manage it’s staff wellness benefits? Why do you think that is?

  15. Tane:”improved productivity, less sick leave and improved staff retention,”

    Got numbers to prove this ? I fail to see how buying staff a pair of running shoes or botox improves productivity. Productivity gains come from good top-down management commitment to making consistent small improvements in cost reduction and output improvement not a few ‘baubles’ or expensive team building workshops.

  16. burt 16

    SP

    Tane said above: “provides a small annual health and wellness benefit of $250 per staff member.”

    So why have you chipped into the bottom of my comment contradicting him?

    [I haven’t. The card is part of the remuneration package. SP]

  17. Matthew Pilott 17

    Oh, sorry burt, a bit opaque in my response.

    ACC doesn’t do an Activa Card equivalent.

    Do you think it should? Expand the role of ACC? I’m down with that, if it can be provided collectively with greater efficiency than it can privately.

    Not sure it’s really a role they should take up but if you want to advocate it, be my guest.

  18. Matthew. Post of the day.

    Bryan. tane is relying on the ACC offocial who spoke on Morning Report this morning, you’ve got no grounds on which to doubt that man’s word and if you do so on this site you will be banned.

    Incidentally, Bryan, do you get no non-cash remuneration? Because in most roles I’ve had there has been some form of non-cash reward for working, like these activa cards.

  19. Matthew Pilott 19

    Bryan, there are numerous examples illustrating how healthy and fit people are more productive. I tell you what – if you can’t come back to me with two by this time tomorrow, I’ll find a couple for you…

    …if I’m not out, getting fit and healthy (it’s a-snowing, and the ‘ruas beckon).

  20. outofbed 20

    The spuds speak to you Matthew ?

  21. burt 21

    Matthew Pilott

    I’m down with that, if it can be provided collectively with greater efficiency than it can privately.

    This is exactly the point. Clearly it can’t or it would. If it can then it’s being wastefull by not doing this internally itself – not surprising form a monopoly.

  22. burt 22

    SP

    I know it’s part of the staff package. But it’s managed by Southern Cross – Yes or No ?

    If “Yes” then could you retract the “you can do better than this.. SP”. or perhaps clarify why you needed to comment in the first place. Perhaps you just didn’t like where my comment was going ?

    [you were going to go on to suggest that if ACC is paying a private company to provide these cards that are used to buy health and wellbeing products that means the private sector is more efficent at supplying those services to people than ACC is, otherwise ACC would have made its own cards… but that would be stupid because these activa cards are nothing like the compensation for inability to work and payments for medical care and recovery treatments that ACC pays for. SP]

  23. Matthew Pilott 23

    Burt, are you trying to say that ACC should offer Activa accounts to all New Zealanders, as a product, or that it should but they’re not for some reason?

    Are you demanding an Activa account from ACC?!

    What benefit would that provide to all new Zealanders? If it is popular and can make some money, then good on Southern Cross.

    If it is something that all New Zealanders would use I still can’t imagine ACC providing it – it’s not even vaguely within their brief, do you even know what it is?

    If it isn’t something everyone would use, then you want everyone to subsidise something that not everyone would benefit from – I assumed you’d be against that kind of thing. unless you have me confused, which I think you do anyway – demanding that ACC venture into a niche area for no good reason…

  24. Matthew Pilott 24

    Ah well I’m off. oob – something like that (or it might be the Tararuas)…

    I’ll try to figure out what you mean sometime later burt, I honestly have no idea whatsoever why you’re asking ACC to provide a niche product. It’s like demanding Tranzpower sell fairy lights – sure they make money, but…

  25. Matthew, if you think $100,000 or $117,000 is enough for losing ALL your limbs you clearly are a fruit cake.

    $330,000 of costs paid. Pathetic.

    This will barely cover her first year or two of living.

    She should be getting millions, but ACC have failed her miserably.

    It isn’t isolated. Labourers,forestry workers etc, that your party purports to support, lose limbs on a regular basis and you think all they are entitled to is a lousy 100K?

    You are pathetic and your shameful attitude towards workers leave the once great worker’s Labour Party, under Norman Kirk a distant memory.

    Shame on you Matthew

  26. burt 26

    Matthew Pilott

    No, no and no. ACC = monopoly administration. When a large monopoly administration outsources administration of internal functions one needs to wonder just what other functions it provides that would be better/cheaper if they were also out sourced. National have some ideas on this.

  27. burt 27

    Darren Rickard

    Labour appologists will support this – because Labour did it. It’s enough justification for them.

    I agree with you, it’s a disgrace.

  28. burt 28

    SP

    So I was right – you didn’t like where it was going so you denigrated me. Thanks for confirming that.

  29. “It’s like demanding Tranzpower sell fairy lights” brilliant.

    Darren. She is getting compensation for treatment (and presumably lost income but maybe not as she isn’t a Kiwi resident, I’m not sure).

    Anyway, ACC is not a scheme that gives some kind of wergild (you lose a limb you get a million) and if there was civil or criminal negiligence that led to her illness, it’s not ACC that is to blame or should be paying damages- it pays for treatment and lose of income.

  30. burt. it’s just that I could see where you were going and it was so predictable and boring and wrong and I really believe you could do something thoughtful and challenging instead.

  31. burt 32

    Steve Pierson

    Is this a blog ? Are people allowed to express their views here or not ?

    Was I offensive? Did I make any personal attacks? Is there a thought control aspect to moderation ?

    In the context of a blog I think you just way over stepped the mark. I don’t expect you to appologise – but you should.

  32. burt. sometimes I comment at the bottom of a comment so it’s clear what i’m responding to and because it’s easier to do it that way when i’m looking through the backdoor (same reason Lynn does it).. it wasn’t moderation, your comment wasn’t altered in any way.

  33. r0b 34

    So the short summary of this transparent attempt to create a distraction from the orchestrated litany of truth is: “Nats want to tell ACC staff how they can and can’t spend their pay”?

  34. burt 35

    Steve Pierson

    My comment was altered – it has a great big interuption from you attached to it. Thanks.

    Have a nice weekend – I’m off for some snow as well. I’ll probably end up sharing a hut with Matthew! I could end up sleeping next to him !

  35. How much does it cost the taxpayer to groom Helen’s teddy bears?
    Does Ms Dyson drink botox?

  36. Draco TB 37

    No, no and no. ACC = monopoly administration. When a large monopoly administration outsources administration of internal functions one needs to wonder just what other functions it provides that would be better/cheaper if they were also out sourced

    Jesus Burt, the Activa card isn’t an internal part of ACCs administration at all and they have no reason to supply one. Southern Cross does and so ACC went to them when they were looking for incentives to put in staff remuneration packages. How hard is that to understand?

  37. Greg 38

    “National knows Kiwis won’t support privatisation if it means higher premiums and reduced cover”

    And it won’t. Look what happened to the price of insurence for the same standard of cover in 1999, it dropped dramatically. Also, it wasn’t the insurence companies ‘loss leading’ – to the contrary they had their prices higher than need be to cover the cost of the possibility (that did eventuate) of Labour winning the 1999 election. Just talk to anyone in the insurence business at that time. Why wouldn’t you want to privitise ACC?

  38. Oh the irony. Why doesn’t the Labour Govt use a public organisation to fund perks for their employees? I would have thought with the recent buying spree Labour would have had that sorted too.

    Using Southern Cross is proof that private can indeed be better. Touche!

  39. it’s not ACC that is to blame or should be paying damages- it pays for treatment and lose of income.

    Steve, $330.000.00 will not cover her full treatment and 117K will cover her first year for loss of income.

    She was a highly paid individual and will lose millions of dollars of income over her working life because of her employers neglect, a loser State employer at that.

    It doesn’t matter if she isn’t a kiwi. She was covered under the ACC scheme and they are supposed to be there to cover these sorts of workplace injuries.

    She definitely has a case to sue either her former employer, ACC or both and I hope she does.

    I would gladly contribute some of my forced ACC tax to voluntarily pay her legal bill so she can get the cover than is morally, and legally, due to her.

    The point that another writer, Burt, exemplifies is a dandy. ACC are taking workplace cover from a private company because ACC see the private sector as better and more efficient. They are.

  40. Draco TB 41

    because of her employers neglect,

    There was no employer neglect as they were doing what they could to prevent infection but no matter what is done it can’t be made perfect and so there is always the chance that infection will occur. She should still be a highly paid individual. She hasn’t lost her brain or the knowledge she gained and, even with the amputations, will still be able to work in the field.

    ACC are taking workplace cover from a private company because ACC see the private sector as better and more efficient.

    WTF are you talking about?

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