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Collins’ smear backfires

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, August 27th, 2009 - 10 comments
Categories: national/act government, prisons, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,


Beven Hanlon: "Jet-set lifestyle"

Excellent piece by Patrick Gower in the Herald today on Judith Collins’ attempt to smear Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon.

Collins has leaked part of an OIA (which she’s so far refused to release to Labour) which she says shows “union bosses” are “living a jet-set lifestyle” on the taxpayer after they received $127,000 in expenses from her department last year.

Hanlon was using this money “to trot around the country and make critical comments about Corrections officers”, she said.

The dishonety of this is stunning. The “funding” Collins is talking about is actually compensation for the Corrections Association’s costs for when the Department calls them to a meeting.

Here’s how it works. Beven Hanlon, the union’s president, is a Corrections employee. When the Department calls a meeting with the union they cover Hanlon’s salary for the day, pay for someone to replace him on the job and cover any travel or accomodation costs.

Conversely, when the union calls a meeting Hanlon takes annual leave and his expenses are met by the union, not the Department.

There is nothing at all unusual about this situation, chances are it’s codified in the collective agreement or in a memorandum of understanding and it’s common practice in the private sector. I don’t see why the public sector should be any different.

Collins’ motive in this is clear. She wants to smear a high-profile opponent of her prison privatisation plans and undermine the growing assertiveness of the union movement. Thanfully, she’s come out of this looking like a plonker.

Speaking of smears, I thought Farrar would have learnt his lesson after his fisking on Monday, but he’s back lying about the unions again. This time he’s jumped in behind Collins’ smear with the sensationalist headline “Taxpayer funded unions“. He goes on to accuse the PSA of being taxpayer funded.

“I know many Government Departments pay staff more if they join the PSA which is a form of indirect funding”, he says.

No you don’t, you lying pillock. The PSA negotiates one-off payments for its members as part of its collective agreements, just like private sector unions do, in order to discourage non-union employees from freeloading off the back of the collective.

Funny how quick the Nats are to criticise the private contractual arrangements of working New Zealanders, but when the CEO of Telecom is found to be riding Kiwis for $7 million a year the silence is deafening.

10 comments on “Collins’ smear backfires ”

  1. randal 1

    this whole government is dishonest and with no priciples except sellf aggrandisement and untrammelled venality.
    unfortunately they are supported by wiseacres like humpty dumpty to do most of their lying for them.
    never fear.
    you can only fool some of the people some of the time and their days are numbered.

  2. BLiP 2

    Way to go Crusher! That’s just what the Department needs on the same day she announces prisoners at Rimutaka are about to get squeezed 60 at a time into containers – meanwhile, the police fail child abuse victims and robberies go uninvestigated.

    Classic National Ltd – the weakest and most marginalised in society suffer while those responsible attempt to bash, bully and bullshit their way through the criticism.

    Those New Zealand women who voted for National Ltd must wonder whether they really want to be represented by Crusher Collins, Basher Bennett, Chopper Tolley, Folly Acid Kate, and We’llmissya Lee. I guess John Key sees them as the “tight-five” in his rolling maul . . . even Kelston Boys High would have a hard time with that bunch of thugs.

  3. Daveo 3

    Noticed this is his comments section too:

    [DPF: In the private sector you almost never get employers giving cash bonuses for joining the union. They happen in the public sector because the Govt instructed them to happen to help fund its mates]

    That’s just not true. One off cash payments are a common feature in collective negotiations because bosses usually to just hand the union-negotiated pay rise to the non-union workers too.

    The one-off cash payment is about disincentivisisng freeloading, which is something that really pisses union members off.

    Farrar really doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. It’d be embarrassing if he wasn’t such a shameless National Party spinner already.

  4. Indeed, his ignorance in this area is legion. One wonders if this sustained ignorance (as also in his comments the other day about Telecom and the EPMU) is simply the impact of a disengaged brain, or a minor campaign on his part to stir up a debate in an area in which government currently lacks any great interest.

  5. JohnDee 5

    With Kate Wilkinson blaming her staff (or lying) Crusher Collins being highly selective in what details she releases, Gerry Brownlee being decidedly short with an interview this afternoon on National Radio, Mapp lying for another minister, one gets the distinct impression that the “worm is turning’ and fast. Serious pressure and cracks are showing in shonky Johnkeys government and it’s only about 10 months into their first year.
    I laughed listing to Shaun Plunkett asking Kate Wilkinson if she was “Lying” when blaming her staff and you the trouble National MP’s are starting to crack under pressure.

  6. daredtodream 6

    “When the Department calls a meeting with the union they cover Hanlon’s salary for the day, pay for someone to replace him on the job and cover any travel or accomodation costs.”

    This is BS whether it happens in the private or public sector. The incentive is for employers not to call excessive meetings where the absence of a union rep could result in a non-union friendly decision. Fair enough. But there are other ways to manage this rather than the taxpayer/shareholder paying for a union rep to fulfill what is their core function – representing their clients. The clients should pay for this when it is a fair and reasonable expectation for the union rep to represent them. Otherwise they are cost shifting the cost of their representation onto others. BS….

  7. Eddie 7

    You completely miss the point. If a company asks its employees to take time out of their work travel around the country to discuss workplace issues they should have to compensate them, just like they do for management.

    This isn’t internal union business, and it’s not paid union officials receiving compensation. Collins has made a fool of herself on this, you’re best to let it be.

  8. Swampy 8

    Has this blog become the latest media outlet for the Council of Trade Unions? Here;s another political statement, just another snipe at the government from the CTU on a matter that would simply be seen for the political point scoring it is.

    This matter raises, I think rightly, Labour’s willingness to siphon business money into paying for union activities, including “education”. The Herald piece doesn’t follow your line, it follows some balance in allowing Hanlon to comment on the situation. However it is probably one of a number of exceptionally favourable union agreements that Labour made with public sector unions, after all there is no shortage of government cash to pay out affiliates and fellow travellers with.

    The CEO of Telecom’s pay is a red herring, but we all know another CTU union is busy attacking him at the moment, so this is another cheap political stunt mentioning him in the same post.

    • Eddie 8.1

      Man, you’ve got some real issues with the CTU eh? I’d respond to you, but I try to avoid engaging with unfocused rants.

  9. Marty G 9

    “Labour’s willingness to siphon business money into paying for union activities, including “education'”

    Swampy’s heard of education but he doesn’t believe in it.

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