Is it OK to bring a hand grenade to a business meeting?

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, June 11th, 2018 - 15 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, Economy, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: ,

It’s a question that most books on business etiquette don’t really cover. Maybe that’s why Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Milford seemed to bring it up. It’s uncharted territory.

Speaking on behalf of Business NZ at the announcement of the the panel considering Fair Pay Agreements, Milton said, “we’re pleased to be around the table because if we don’t put our concerns there we can’t stand on the outside and sort of lob hand grenades in”.

It’s a metaphor. Yes, it’s rhetorical flourish. But it still means something.

Is Milford saying that if Business NZ chose not to be involved in the discussion about Fair Pay Agreements, they would have the right to sabotage the whole process at the end, do they really think that?

New Zealand’s premiere business lobby appears to have a problem with Fair Pay Agreements – we’re not sure what it is yet, because neither we, nor they, know what shape they’ll take. That’s up for consultation, in fact, that they and the union movement and Government will all be part of, so everyone gets to have their say. But just the idea that there should even be a set of basic minimum standards for all employees in a particular job is seems so outrageous to them that – boom! grenades!-sounds like a legitimate response.

That’s simply not rational and it shows a business leadership not equipped to deal with real world problems.

Because the extension of their metaphor is still, whether you are inside or outside the meeting, you have a hand grenade. You like to talk about your hand grenade and, when you get invited to “the meeting”, you still won’t say whether you are leaving your hand grenade at home. Even then, “I only lob hand grenades from the outside,” is not a great character reference.

Business New Zealand have got off to a really bad start on Fair Pay Agreements. Concealed carry isn’t the Kiwi way – we’d rather talk it out than drift into some Texas saloon situation.

Unions and government seem ready to work out ways to protect our living standards and local business from unfair competition. You’d expect more common sense and less gunslinging from those same business’ self-declared mouthpiece.

Darien Fenton

15 comments on “Is it OK to bring a hand grenade to a business meeting?”

  1. Gabby 1

    No, he’s saying it’s better to be part of a process than to criticise it from outside. Is talking about ‘uncharted territory’ adopting the language of the coloniser?

  2. Ad 2

    Bit meaningless to start complaining about language.

    Would be great to see the unions wave a bit of stick about – in fact it’s your job.

    I am sure you are up to it.

  3. Phil 3

    Is Milford saying that if Business NZ chose not to be involved in the discussion about Fair Pay Agreements, they would have the right to sabotage the whole process at the end, do they really think that?

    No. He’s literally saying the opposite of that.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Business have been emboldened by decades of complaint governments and the craven capitulation of the managerialist Labour governments of Clark/Cullen and now the clearly timid signals they are getting from Grant Robertson.

    they will come with a hardball negotiating position of threatening a capital strike and a “winter of discontent” style PR assault on the government if they don’t get their way.

  5. patricia bremner 5

    The BRT or TU are so used to having it all their own way, that any kind of sharing feels threatening to their sense of entitlement.

    No, it is no surprise that they would consider destroying the framework if they don’t agree with the message.

    The trick is to have them choose to join as they sight the real muscle of public and political scorn.

    Finally people realise they had given them the power, and they can wrest it back.

    Further they underestimate Andrew Little’s negotiation knowledge and skill.

  6. Puckish Rogue 6

    “we’re pleased to be around the table because if we don’t put our concerns there we can’t stand on the outside and sort of lob hand grenades in”.

    Sounds to me like hes saying if we don’t participate we then can’t complain about it and try to derail it at a later date

  7. AB 7

    I wouldn’t expect business leaders to have any precision in their use of metaphor – so best to ignore it probably. If you’ve ever had anything to do with business language you will know it’s a swamp of idiocy anyway.

    Does it betray some underlying attitudes that are going to be a problem down the line? Probably, but deal with that when it happens.

    If we are going to explore the metaphor I’d mostly be interested in asking who has hand grenades and who doesn’t. And who has the biggest ones. And who has such a belief in their own exceptionalism that they would actually use one in defiance of the will of a democratically elected government. And how all that came about.
    But while this is interesting, it’s a bit of a diversion when there is stuff that needs fixing.

    • tc 7.1

      I’ve had colleagues work in the US of A where it wasn’t uncommon for them to be the only one in the meeting not carrying a firearm.

      The business lobby are used to throwing rhetorical hand grenades as they’ve got an owned MSM to shill for them and hammer the sheeple with ‘the sky is falling’ dogma.

  8. tc 8

    “….shows a business leadership not equipped to deal with real world problems. ”

    You’ll find most of the club members that occupy the lofty heights of NZ corp/SOE/sinecures are totally disconnected from the real world….have been for decades.

    Geez you only had to listen to Dan Bidois for a few minutes to see a vacuous slogan filled enabler for his handlers.

  9. aom 9

    Who takes any notice of John Milford anyway? Being such a business genius, he managed to sink Kirkcaldie & Stains, a Wellington institution for over 150 years, then went on to hollow out the membership of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce. For some unknown reason, the Dominion Post gives him airplay with a regular column which is littered with plenty of dogma but little substance or intelligent comment.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    New Zealand’s premiere business lobby appears to have a problem with Fair Pay Agreements – we’re not sure what it is yet, because neither we, nor they, know what shape they’ll take.

    That’s relatively simple. If the employees have more then the employers and management will have to have less.

    The employers and management have more is what all the reforms of the last thirty plus years have been about and it’s been working for them quite well:

    That is to say: even though workers are more “productive”, their income hasn’t increased in proportion to their productivity.

    They’re working harder, but not getting paid more in return for it.

    The freed up amount is all going to the owners and management and the poor are getting poorer.

  11. Incognito 11

    Their definition of good faith bargaining and negotiating seems to be to let the enemy other party know that they have a hand grenade and they will pull the pin if they don’t get their way.

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