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Bloody Klowns

Written By: - Date published: 9:13 am, February 5th, 2011 - 79 comments
Categories: business, class war, employment - Tags: ,

Forget about freedom of expression. Forget about the right of a union to converse with itself. Forget about the right to voice  reasonable and honestly held opinions.

Press Release by Unite Union  at  10:30 am, 04 Feb 2011

Unite Union is appalled that a union member employed by fast-food company Burger King faces the sack for posting the words “Real jobs don’t underpay and overwork people like BK does” on a private page of Facebook.

The 27-year-old from BK in Dunedin is upset and stressed at facing a charge of serious misconduct for the posting which is not available for public view. (emphasis added)

“It’s a comment most New Zealanders know to be true about the fast-food industry in any case,” says Unite National Director Mike Treen. “We all know these companies are tied at the hip to the minimum wage and workers are frequently run off their feet.”

The union encourages staff in fast-food stores to set up their own Facebook pages to keep in touch with issues and support each other. However like some other companies BK is reacting with “commercial panic” to the rise of social networking and people expressing frustration at aspects of their jobs. BK’s action is draconian and bullying.

We’ve asked the company to withdraw the charge of serious misconduct and for the issue be handled more sensitively and appropriately. BK has refused.

79 comments on “Bloody Klowns”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    It seems BK doesn’t want to get a bad name for itself on the internet 🙄

    If this is the first and only step they have taken in terms of disciplinary procedures and performance management, BK management really is dropping the ball.

    • Deadly_NZ 1.1

      Yeah but BK top management are the ones that will happily vote Key back in so it can keep on exploiting it’s casual workers.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    BK will lose if it goes to employment court, so I don’t know why they’re doing this. They must be idiots.

    Now, if they take any further puntative action against the employee in future, it’ll be cast in a suspicious light. It would’ve be in their best interests to make it unpleasant for the guy working there so he eventually quit, in a way that no wrong-doing could be proved.

    Incompetence saves the day again.

    • The Voice of Reason 2.1

      Hmmm. I wouldn’t bet on them losing, Lanthanide. It’s pretty unlikely that it will make it to the court anyway, as it’ll be settled confidentially in mediation, or at the ER Authority before it gets that far. But the worker concerned here is in a bit of bother. Posting comments like this in a public forum is likely to be considered serious misconduct by most employers and is going to end in a warning at the least.

      The threat to the worker’s job is probably less real, but employers are required to inform the worker at the start of the disciplinary process of the possible outcomes, which, for serious misconduct, might be dismissal.

      I might add that it is not helpful to the worker’s case for Unite to publicise the actual comments. That seems to support BK’s likely contention that the words bring the company into disrepute or weaken their trust and confidence in the worker.

      • just saying 2.1.1

        i don’t know if you’ve really got your head around ‘fuck all to lose’ VoR.

        • The Voice of Reason 2.1.1.1

          Heh! You might be right, just saying. It sounds like a shite job alright, but until the cycleway makes it to Dunners, it’ll probably have to do.

          • just saying 2.1.1.1.1

            Circa 2035 ya reckon? 😀

          • Vicky32 2.1.1.1.2

            Oddly enough, on TV3 on Friday, she said she actually likes the job! (Or would if it were better paid, and she wasn’t ‘run off her feet’… ) She’s brave – fast food has always been the very last thing I want to have to do!
            Deb

      • Bill 2.1.2

        Is having an opinion that your employer overworks and underpays unreasonable? If not, there is absolutely nothing wrong in what was said.

        And the comment was made in a private forum, not a public one. (Not that I see any difference, given that the opinion is a reasonable one).

        Burger King (in their infinite wisdom) have simply seen an opportunity to cow their workforce and make the union (vis a vis the member’s communications to one another) think twice before entering into legitimate dialogue with itself.

        Bad as the situation is for the individual employee, it would seem that Burger King are going down the age old path of throwing their not inconsiderable resources at a situation they can deal with ‘on the side’ while the union has to focus fairly meagre resources on fighting b/s. In ther words, it’s an instance of union bashing.

        • Oblimova 2.1.2.1

          While milking one’s workforce is standard business practice, in this particular instance I suspect you mean “cower their workforce.”

        • Puddleglum 2.1.2.2

          I’ve read some of the comments below and think that it’s an interesting indictment of current power relationships that collective (or individual) agreements actually have ‘loyalty’ clauses in them.

          I might have missed something, but I can’t see why criticising your employer in public is (or should be) considered ‘serious misconduct’. Wage labour is payment for performing a task. Not being allowed to express your honest opinion about your employer in public seems an odd exception to slander/libel laws. Perhaps the state should coerce us to accept, as citizens, that we have no right to criticise the government – because it speaks to questions of ‘trust’, ‘confidence’, etc.?

          It reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s fear that, should ‘wage slavery’ (as he and most of his contemporaries called it) become too dominant – both in the republic and in the lives of individuals – it would undermine the republic. This is because those who cannot produce their own subsistence become less likely to speak out as citizens because their employers could coercively limit their freedom of expression (by threatening their employment). Lincoln’s ‘republic of producers’ was his description of what was necessary for a democracy to function effectively.

          If it is true that it is now generally considered perfectly reasonable for employers to demand that their employees never be critical of them (even when not at work), then it looks like Lincoln’s fears were well founded. (Presumably, employers are perfectly happy to have an employee praise them to the skies in public?)

      • Ed 2.1.3

        The statement said that it was _not_ a public forum – it was private pages not able to be accessed by the public.

        It is the company that has invited the public statement by taking legal action; the BK outlet and the staff member are not identified.

        It is clear that the comment was unwise; whether that deserves losing a job is another matter.

        • The Voice of Reason 2.1.3.1

          The comment was on Facebook. That’s a public forum. Just because fb offers ‘private’ pages doesn’t change anything in NZ employment law. That private page involves members of the public anyway, however you look at it. And it doesn’t matter that you slag off your employer to just a few people, it’s still a public attack on them.

          The lesson to be learned is that anything that you say on the net can and will be used in against you, if it comes out.

          And it is Unite that has identified the BK branch and further disseminated the comments, not the company. As I noted above, that seems a very odd thing for the union to do, because it significantly weakens the worker’s defence.

          • Anthony C 2.1.3.1.1

            Even if it was public I’m still trying to figure out how it is serious misconduct.

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.3.1.1.1

              Yeah, workers need to be able to share their stories.

              For instance, in the 90 days right to fire campaign. If workers can’t talk about how they have been shafted, or workmates have been shafted, no one is going to know.

            • The Voice of Reason 2.1.3.1.1.2

              Publicly dissing your employer is never wise and is likely to be a breach of either the employment agreement or the company’s house rules. It goes to trust and confidence. Can the employer reasonably have trust and confidence in the employee if it knows he or she is making statements such as that?

              And think about the statement itself. BK is not underpaying it’s staff. It pays at least the Adult Minimum Wage and has either individual or collective agreements that are negotiated. They may not be paying a good or even adequate wage, but they are not underpaying.

              As for over working, again BK would say that is not the case, and the workload is similar to that in other faux food restaurants. Unite could invite the Labour Dep’t in to check, if there was any doubt.

              Somewhere in the employee’s agreement will be clauses about behaviour, public interaction, loyalty and the like, which will have been breached by the worker in this case. However, they are not likely to dismissed for this single incident. But if they are on a final warning for other misdemeanours, it could be the end of the working relationship.

              • KJT

                One thing that is good about many Americans is they are really serious about freedom of speech. I was seconded to an American company in the 80’s and I wrote many things critical of the then Labour Governments policies. The NZ company wanted to reprimand me. My American employer stopped it. They said I was an excellent employee and I had an absolute right to say what I wanted in political discussions, no matter how embarrassing to the company..

                NZ companies and Government are far too restrictive of free and frank discussion.

                There is a big difference between dissing the company to immediate customers at the counter ,which would quit rightly be grounds for dismissal, and discussing miserable employment conditions on a forum away from work.

                It would be hard to argue that burger companies are not exploitative. The hours and wages they offer effectively means they are subsidised by employees.
                Not to mention one that employs people just long enough to get the subsidy for employment of long term unemployed, then cuts their hours or otherwise makes them leave so they can get another lot.

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.3.1.2

            As I noted above, that seems a very odd thing for the union to do, because it significantly weakens the worker’s defence.

            The only half logical reason might be to make a political statement, but that is not necessarily going to be in the worker’s best interests.

            Well I hope Unite released their PR statement in close consultation with their affected member. Don’t need another AE scenario.

          • Bill 2.1.3.1.3

            Where or how is the employer being ‘slagged off’ VoR? It’s a perfectly reasonable opinion. Burger King might disagree with the opinion, but that has nothing to do with the reasonablness or otherwise of it. If Burger King ever argued that they neither overworked staff nor payed them poorly, I for one would love to see the argument.

            Burger King’s position would result in unions never entering into negotiations because members would be unable to communicate among themselves and claim that they weren’t getting paid enough and similarily, wouldn’t be able to bring up the issue of unsatifactory work conditions.

            Because if they did, they’d be up for disciplinary action.

            Meanwhile, if the content of the communication is reaonable, but Burger King go ahead with disciplinary action, then to maintain consistency, they would have to take action against anyone who had verbally communicated same or similar sentiments whether face to face or over the telephone.

            • The Voice of Reason 2.1.3.1.3.1

              See my comment above, Bill.

              Bloody Klowns

              Much as I hate being the devil’s avocado here, the fact is that BK have good reason to take disciplinary action against the worker and Unite seem to have made the situation worse by publicising the actual comment, rather than using a precis.

              • Tigger

                TVOR – This is no different from me coming home and telling my husband my job sucks. Or telling my immediate family over Sunday dinner. Do BK now want to bug homes to make sure all employees don’t talk out of turn.

                The pages were a private conversation – the intent was to speak to a few, not to publish it to many/any.

                • The Voice of Reason

                  It is only different from those examples, Tigger, as long as your family members don’t dob you in. If they do, then you are in the crap, too. fb pages are not private in any sense that is going to help the worker. If you are prepared to publicly have a go at your boss, even if you don’t understand the difference between private and public, you are putting your employment at risk. It’s that simple, I’m afraid.

                  • Vicky32

                    There’s actually a private FB group about the employer who shafted me 2 years back – and I didn’t start it!
                    But are you saying that anyone who still works for 2****** and is a member of that private groups put his/her employment at risk? That’s a cretinous statement…
                    Deb

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      “That’s a cretinous statement…”

                      Well, you’re quite the charmer aren’t you, Deb? How about you read the other comments I’ve made where I pretty clearly lay out the reasons why a private fb page is actually nothing of the sort. Then, when you’ve got a job, try setting up a page dissing your boss and see how long you last. It only takes one person to shop you and it is a very much public page and you are very much up the proverbial creek.

                      And, FFS, google ‘facebook’ and ‘fired’ and then tell me who’s the real cretin.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Now, its quite interesting to reflect why one should have the democratic freedom of speech to publicly criticise the top leaders of your society and your Government on FaceBook or Twitter but not your asshat supervisor from work?

                    Or in fact, to reveal any other unfair, scam-like or dodgy goings-ons at work, particularly if the specific commentary can be shown to be in the public good?

                • SHG

                  This is no different from me coming home and telling my husband my job sucks.

                  It’s very different. Your home is private. Your husband is one person, someone in whom you can confide. And whether or not your job sucks is unprovable since “my job sucks” has no literal sensible meaning. But “real jobs don’t under pay and over work people like BK does” contains an allegation of criminal behaviour by her employer. NZ’s labour laws set out clearly what pay and what hours are acceptable, and this girl is saying, in public, to a group of strangers, that BK does not meet those requirements.

                  the intent was to speak to a few, not to publish it to many/any

                  Regardless of intent publishing it to many is WHAT SHE DID.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    NZ’s labour laws set out clearly what pay and what hours are acceptable…

                    The law doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. Going to work is expensive and it’s not impossible to find a job that doesn’t cover costs. Working at BK is likely to be one job that doesn’t.

                    Of course, this doesn’t mean that she should be blaming BK exclusively. She should have budgeted her income/outgoings first which comes down to education. The minimum wage should be higher so that it’s more likely to cover those costs or, as those costs tend to be fixed, a Universal Income.

                    It may be legal, doesn’t mean to say that it’s right. In fact, cases like this show that the law is wrong.

                    • SHG

                      Way to miss the point, Draco.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Oh, I didn’t miss it, I just didn’t address it, but, as you insist…

                      BK really shouldn’t be so upset about being informed that they don’t pay enough.

              • Bill

                The employee was communicating with other union members. And a union has the right to communicate with itself.

                And the opinion is perfectly reasonable.

                And the employees comment could be taken as contesting that although the BK job is a real job, BK underpay and overwork in ways that are different to other real jobs that underpay and overwork their staff.

                BK don’t have a leg to stand on. But they can intimidate workers and drain the time and resources of a small union by engaging in this type of bullshit. Which is a tactic they have employed in the past.

              • just saying

                Holy hell VoR,
                Were you ever in the unionised workforce before they were eviscerated?
                It was no perfect picture, but I wonder if you remember having a modicum of management fear-based respect and dignity as a member of a union. Not cowering or tip toeing around, having your thoughts, feelings and concerns about the workplace actually matter, at least some of the time.

                As an aside, I was at a barbecue over xmas with a couple of faux-food management types. (they paid 20 odd grand to meet Key at a dinner, so you get the picture). The things they said about their staff, in what was, a private/public forum was a Hell of a lot more slanderous, personal, and destructive than a worker’s legitimate criticism about pay and working conditions. When I politely challenged them they changed the subject after they’d shrugged and said “pay peanuts and you get monkeys I guess”.

                • The Voice of Reason

                  I don’t just remember bosses having ‘fear-based respect’ and workers having ‘dignity as a member of a union’, I do my best to keep both concepts alive 24/7. Neither comes about by pretending a situation is other than what it is. I find honest, factually correct advice to both parties goes a long way to adding dignity and respect to the employment relationship, actually.

      • prism 2.1.4

        The item says that the page was not open to the public. It could be that if the unions want to have an open discussion on problems amongst workers, then they need to be aware it can be tapped into by employers. A code letter for employee and employer could be used so that the finger can’t be pointed at either, but the problem can be aired and others informed. The union would need to allocate the code letters and have them recorded so they can themselves keep tabs on conditions and problems.

        This is how a sensible and informed union would protect its people yet keep them all informed of the situation.

      • Bill 2.1.5

        It’s pretty unlikely that it will make it to the court anyway, as it’ll be settled confidentially in mediation, or at the ER Authority before it gets that far.

        Only the result of the disciplinary process could be subject to mediation…as a personal greivance. Which Burger King would lose.

        But dealing with such ‘cut and dried’ b/s is a drain on small unions such as UNITE.

        • The Voice of Reason 2.1.5.1

          Well, Bill, if we’re going get pedantic, I should point out that allegation, investigation, decision, personal grievance, mediation, the ERA and the Employment Court are all part of the disciplinary process and it is the outcome of the investigation part of that process that gets challenged by a PG. But I didn’t think it was worth boring the readers with all of that detail.

          BK would not ‘lose’* on the facts as we know it, because the worker really does appear likely to have breached their employment agreement. They are going to get a warning, or if the union does a better job of advocacy, perhaps just a letter of expectation or similar. If they have other warnings though, it might be worse.

          *Nobody ‘loses’ in mediation, it isn’t run like that.

          • Bill 2.1.5.1.1

            VoR.

            How is it exactly that the worker really does appear likely to have breached their employment agreement?

            Employement Relations Act Section 4. (3)

            Subsection (1) [of the Good Faith provisions of the ERA] does not prevent a party to an employment relationship communicating to another person a statement of fact or of opinion reasonably held about an employer’s business or a union’s affairs.

            What’s unreasonable about voicing the opinion that your employer underpays and overworks you?

            • The Voice of Reason 2.1.5.1.1.1

              I said ’employment agreement’, you quote the Act. Two different, though related, things.

              And the Act must be read in its entirety, Bill. Cherry picking a line that primarily refers to good faith behaviour in collective bargaining is not going to get this worker off the hook. You have also highlighted ‘of opinion reasonably held’ yet the worker made a statement of (supposed) fact, without qualifying it as an opinion.

              • Bill

                I’m quoting the ERA because all Employment Agreements must comply with the provisions of the ERA.

                And I’m not cherry picking. Good Faith applies to all employment relationships, including that between employer and individual employee.

                The ERA allows for the expression of reasonably held opinions. No clause in an Employment Agreement that contradicted that would stand.

                I don’t quite see where you’re going with this ‘fact’ and ‘opinion’ angle. Are you suggesting that Burger King argue that the statement was fact? And then deny the fact and show it to merely be an opinion?

                • The Voice of Reason

                  No, I’m saying that the statement was presented as fact, not opinion, which kills your point about that clause, even if it did have any relevance. BK will argue that it is not a fact that they underpay (which is likely to be true) and that they do not overwork their employees (which can be checked by the Labour Dep’t).

                  The ERA underpins all employment agreements, as you rightly observe, but it does not stop an employer and employee agreeing further terms, such as in a letter of appointment, a set of house rules or similar. I am suggesting that she is likely to have breached the Act, but her conditions of employment.

                  Anyhoo, I’m starting to worry that BK won’t need to get legal advice now and they’ll just rely on my comments to back their position, so I’m going to give it a rest for a while. I’ll check back later though and it would be great if someone from Unite could provide some more detail of how they intend defending her, because that would be useful for the discussion, eh.

                  Cheers, Bill and good on ya for putting this up, because it may save somebody else from getting in the poo. Try googling “fired facebook” to see what I mean. It’s rife.

                  • Anthony C

                    Ahh I thought the whole point of the ERA is that it sits above employer/employee agreements?

                    I’m sure the employee and many Burger King employees could prove overworking quite easily. All it takes is one break pushed outside agreed timeframes, or missing a break due to mismanagement.

                    Anyone who has worked in any service or retail jobs know that this happens on a regular basis.

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      But I thought a big private sector corporate would do right by their employees, no? Or at least do right for themselves.

      Incompetence indeed, here they are doing neither. Very bizarre. Speaks to the low standard of line and middle management in this country.

      • rainman 2.2.1

        Very bizarre. Speaks to the low standard of line and middle management in this country.

        True that.

  3. just saying 3

    It’s worth noting that anyone can join the Unite union (except I assume those in another union).

    I really hope Unite becomes a movement for the poor and-shat upon across the country regardless of whether a new left party eventuates. Solidarity might be the only power we have in the face of increasing abuse from “above”.

  4. Sookie 4

    It’s very unwise to say anything about work on Facebook. In this case, the woman posted on a friend’s private wall, and someone ratted her out to the boss. Apparently she has been in trouble previously, so I don’t think BK are interested in backing down on this. Their food sucks, so it doesn’t surprise me that their employment relations are the same.

    • SHG 4.1

      By the looks of it she posted a comment on a friend’s status update. That’s not private at all.

  5. Anthony C 5

    I had a job at the very first Burger King here, it paid $4.08 cents an hour.

    Looks like they still value their employees.

  6. big bruv 6

    Good for Burger King, the silly bint should lose her job.

    Mind you, I would not be surprised to find out that she is a Unite union plant, it is the sort of thing that the low life unions would arrange to drum up a few more members.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      How’s life on Fantasy Island treating you BB?

    • prism 6.2

      Perhaps a good name for you BB would be big bint, (your language)

      • big bruv 6.2.1

        Why do you guys work yourself into a lather about small insignificant cases like this?

        Middle NZ is never going to get worked up about a brain dead worker who is sacked for being stupid, if she hates her job so much why does she not get another one?

        It amazes me that BK have to go through hoops to sack this stupid bint.

        • prism 6.2.1.1

          BB What a fascist attitude (others feel free to replace adjective with whatever scornful one that takes your fancy). People, everyone, workers doing entry level jobs, deserve respect. People have acquired after much effort, better conditions and treatment than in past centuries. That must be protected not degraded, and individuals working in shops, doing non-glamour and low-paid work are worthy people, not just to be judged on the basis of small wages. This government has degraded their working place conditions in the draconian changes they have made to the employment law on the spurious basis that they might be offered some temporary work if they are lucky!

          Where does your respect for people kick in Big Bint? Does it show itself according to size of salary, level of education, size and location of house? You sneering snob.

        • NickS 6.2.1.2

          Because the job market is presently craptastic you misogynistic douchebag, and anyhow, management at BK’s can range from “okay” to “lying sacks of stupid”, so understandably employees should be able to vent, as otherwise issues are never going to get sorted. Especially when it comes to pay and working overtime to make up for the lack of staff.

          Besides, there’s this thing call “offline social interactions”, which people traditionally complain about work through, in which information can percolate and disperse just as easily as online interactions. The difference lies in it’s visibility, but frankly I find that a poor line to draw, and more so in this case as all she was doing was pointing out the general poor pay and long hours involved with working at BK, rather than a problem better sorted through mediation or going to the union over.

          But as we’ve seen in the past, as you’re a pathetic, lying sack of shit, a troll and the whole generally inability for that “empathy” I doubt any of the above would have occurred to you, oh oblivious one.

        • McFlock 6.2.1.3

          I love the smell of kiwiblog in the morning, that curious combination of inbred idiocy and a whiff of superiority complex in the air.

          • KJT 6.2.1.3.1

            I try to avoid Kiwiblog.
            Farrar occasionally comes up with some commonsense, but the commentators make me despair for the future of the human race.
            Lack of brains seems to me the main criteria for commenting.

            Havn’t decided whether it is the result of too much inbreeding in NZ upper classes or the ravings of sycophants who wish they were.

        • Deadly_NZ 6.2.1.4

          Yeah And that ‘stupid bint’ Probably goes to college all day so as to get an education so she can get a job etc etc, then she goes to work at BK to make burgers for loud mouthed idiots like you! just imagine it College all day Idiots all night and Fuck all pay at the end of the week,
          Typical bullshit bunny.

  7. Rharn 7

    It’s all about intimidation of their workforce. Nothing sure that to ensure that the rest toe the line is to make an example of someone. Seem to recall the Dunner’s BurgerKing making the news a few months back over some prissy staff issue. Just don’t recall the details. Seems they got a right shit as an owner/manager or whatever.

    • prism 7.1

      Did it happen in case where a staffer, given a free coke for a drink at tea break, and I think drinking it at an outside table, shared it with a friend, and was dismissed as dishonest for giving away company property.

      I would have thought that it was provided for the staffer’s benefit who then had the right to share it.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Yeah.

        Imagine if you get paid by BK and then you hand $20 of your pay packet over to a mate to help him pay for gas. Is BK gonna fire their worker for stealing from the till?

        Now, if the staffer had taken a second coke for his friend then sure that would have been theft.

      • Bill 7.1.2

        Are you referring to the Subway cola fiasco?

        http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0705/S00264.htm

        The worker in question has since failed security checks thanks to the police wrongly holding her dismissed case on record.

        • prism 7.1.2.1

          That’s the one Bill. Fancy police taking her down to the station treating this as a notable crime. Surely every tuppenyhapenny theft of a chocolate bar etc doesn’t get this treatment. Why should business get the right to use taxpayers’ money to provide such outrageous reaction to what would have been a minor theft? And there was no crime at all. The police procedures in that area must be set at keystone cops/loony tunes level.

          How amazing when you think of the real crime situation with the police not having protective kit to advance into a dairy where the owner lay with a gunshot through him and then died. We run them in etc, We’re the bold gendarmes!

          • McFlock 7.1.2.1.1

            Dunno about that one – ISTR the cops have been called over people sampling grapes in a supermarket. And when the complainant is right there demanding action for what technically was a theft… courses of action can be limited.

            BTW, if I’m shot I don’t want anyone attending to me until it’s safe, i.e. I’ve gotten to them or the shooter has been confirmed as moved off / is down. I want nobody shot on my account.

            • Colonial Viper 7.1.2.1.1.1

              BTW, if I’m shot I don’t want anyone attending to me until it’s safe, i.e. I’ve gotten to them or the shooter has been confirmed as moved off / is down. I want nobody shot on my account.

              What did the police want, an OSH workplace audit before going in?

              Someone in authority there and then chose to disregard as either not credible or not relevant reports from people who were already on the scene that the shooter had gone. Reports which were subsequently shown to be very credible and very relevant.

              • mcflock

                I’m not intimately familiar with that incident. I have not been in a similar situation.

                I do know 3 things, however:

                1: having been in some moderately interesting situations, I have experienced that reports from unknown people at the scene are often partially correct, partially assumed, and partially imagined. Especially over the phone, but includes face-to-face. It’s a stressful situation, and unless you know how a particular person is trained to deal with stress, you cannot bet your life on their information. Even (especially) if there’s a crowd of them.

                2: There are procedures and methods in place for establishing the safety level of a situation. These were developed because people, on the odd occasion, died. 99 times out of 100 they wouldn’t have, but shit went bad so precedures were implemented/altered to account for that circumstance when someone died. Maybe procedures/training was/will be altered after the situation under discussion, but the fact is nobody knows then what they know now. The people responding to the incident don’t feel shit enough about the particular job? They’re probably doing enough second-guessing without pseudonymous half-arsed blog commenters (and yes, I include myself in that description) mouthing off.

                Belittling it with “OSH workplace audit” insults both you and OSH, and makes you sound like a typical profit-margin obsessed small businessman who can’t follow basic regulations and doesn’t understand the term “reasonable”.

                3: insisting that someone else should have risked their lives makes you look like a bit of a dick. Unless you personally hold the George Cross or something. Even then, take it easy. Not everyone’s a superman with xray vision.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Belittling it with “OSH workplace audit” insults both you and OSH, and makes you sound like a typical profit-margin obsessed small businessman who can’t follow basic regulations and doesn’t understand the term “reasonable”.

                  Come now. Someone died and it was a potentially avoidable death. Me pointing this out hardly qualifies me for this name calling, yeah?

                  Was this death really the best or only possible outcome under the circumstances? Even if it was it seems a shame to be left to bleed out alone when there is an ambulance 20m away.

                  The people responding to the incident don’t feel shit enough about the particular job?

                  I accept I wasn’t really thinking about their feelings.

                  3: insisting that someone else should have risked their lives makes you look like a bit of a dick.

                  I didn’t insist on any such thing. Not asking anyone to be the second coming of Rambo or to earn themselves a George Cross. Like you I would not want anyone taking an unreasonable risk to try and save me. If I was bleeding out however I would hope someone would take some reasonable risks to try and save me. Fingers crossed.

                  As an aside I note that using your criteria it appears to be the right thing to do to abandon the recovery of the miners in Pike River. The risk of injury or death to rescue workers, even if small, seems to outweigh any possible gains as there are no lives left to be saved.

                  • McFlock

                    Pointing out: “at least in this instance it would appear that the safety criteria used by police delayed treatment. More accurate criteria might reduce this, if it is indeed the case”.

                    Pointing out, while also having a derogatory metamessage: “What did the police want, an OSH workplace audit before going in? ”

                    “If I was bleeding out however I would hope someone would take some reasonable risks to try and save me. Fingers crossed.”

                    But I would leave it up to them to judge that risk, because they are there and only they really know what the risks appear to be at the time. If the people on point want to take that risk, great. If not, I can’t blame them.

                    “As an aside I note that using your criteria it appears to be the right thing to do to abandon the recovery of the miners in Pike River. The risk of injury or death to rescue workers, even if small, seems to outweigh any possible gains as there are no lives left to be saved.”

                    Pike River appears to be more about the political will and priorities of certain leaders (be they the govt or the receivers), not the decisions of folk on the ground. There has been some criticism of police decision-making at the site, but as far as I’m concerned the major issue rests higher up.

                    E.g. if I believed Key when he said that rescue teams “refused” to go in, I’d have less of an issue. I don’t, I think he was making shit up, so I have suspicions about that effort. But that is different from say internet commenters suggesting that the rescue teams somehow lacked guts or were overcautious or overly bureaucratic by refusing to enter the mine.

        • Vicky32 7.1.2.2

          That truly sucks and blows! Poor woman…
          Deb

  8. The Voice of Reason 8

    ODT story on the case:

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/146684/facebook-comment-could-cost-job

    Jim Tully’s on to it.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      I agree more with this take on it:

      “Unite national director Mike Treen said he was not aware of anyone being dismissed from a job for commenting in a private group on Facebook, which he likened to a modern version of a “pub discussion”.”

      The difference, of course, is that a pub discussion is only witnessed by it’s participants, and usually there is no written record (and therefore no proof) of what was said.

  9. Carol 9

    The issue has as much to do with Facebook and its ambivalent protection of privacy. I rarely use it anymore because I think it just delivers citizens to corporate power.

  10. Descendant Of Smith 10

    It would also be interesting to find out what guidance Bk have given their staff around the use of social media.

    I’ve certainly met with our staff and given them both guidelines and had discussions over what as an employer we see acceptable and what isn’t.

    It’s irresponsible for employers just to leave this aspect of emerging technology as if it is somehow the same as writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper, printing posters, etc.

    Personally I can’t see this as serious misconduct and I would think at the most a first warning letter would suffice.

    I would think however nothing should happen and the employer should get off it’s backside and be quite explicit with staff about what is acceptable and what is not.

    Anyway many members of the public would view fast food places as underpaying their workers – I certainly do. I think they should get overtime after 8 hours and after 5:00 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays.

    You know the whole 8 hour day 40 hour working week.

    I don’t think the staff should get paid anything on Sundays though cause they should be shut and workers spending time with their families.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      You know the whole 8 hour day 40 hour working week.

      Yep, would love to see penal rates come back. You’d pretty much see unemployment disappear and NZ managers start to look at investing in capital. The reasons that penal rates were brought in in the first place.

    • Vicky32 10.2

      “You know the whole 8 hour day 40 hour working week.

      I don’t think the staff should get paid anything on Sundays though cause they should be shut and workers spending time with their families.”
      Abolutely right! What a refreshing view! 🙂
      Deb

      • Rosy 10.2.1

        For the last couple of months I’ve been living in a country that shuts on Sundays (exceptions – bakery, flowers, touristy bits and some restaurants, cafes and pubs). It takes a bit of getting used to and a bit more effort to organise things so you have the sunday dinner ingredients, or the home handyperson thingys for example. They also legislate that shops can’t be open for more than 72 hours a week. I remember the arguement for Sunday shopping in NZ was that we were behind the times and ‘backward’ for a developed nation, and the tourists expect more. The result hasn’t done us any favours.
        Sunday strolls without shopping. Yeah 🙂

        Captcha: stuff – I’m not buying it

  11. Vicky32 11

    I apologise VoR for saying your statement was ‘cretinous’, that was wrong of me. That being said, I still disagree with you. It should be perfectly ok to express your opinion about your boss/company provided you don’t do it on the company computer or company time.
    Oh, and I do have part time work, for a great school, and a great boss and I am happy to say so. I don’t have a contract limiting what I say, either!
    Deb

  12. The Voice of Reason 12

    Cheers, Deb and sorry ’bout the cheap shot. We are not in disagreement about what should be, but I’m pointing out what the current situation actually is. Doing anything that brings your employer into disrepute is a serious issue, not matter what the forum. And the internet is much more public and permanent than being overheard bagging the boss after a few wines at the office Xmas party, but the result can be the same for your career prospects.

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  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
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