Reflections on Shawn Tan

Written By: - Date published: 7:46 pm, August 23rd, 2008 - 54 comments
Categories: act, workers' rights - Tags: ,

There’s a lot of heat but not much light in the debate about the EPMU’s suspension of Shawn Tan.

What we know from the media is that Tan was told he had to seek approval from the union’s national executive in line with his collective agreement and the rules of the union and then failed to do so. Subsequent to this he was suspended with pay while the EPMU investigated the situation. It’s likely in this case “investigated” meant putting things on hold while they figured out what to do about such a strange situation, because as one of our commenters notes it is very odd for someone who works to enforce the work rights of union members to then campaign for a party that desires to remove all of those rights.

Some are arguing that this constitutes a suppression of freedom of political expression. These people obviously don’t understand what suspended with full pay means. A suspension with pay is effectively a holding pattern move designed to freeze a situation until it can be resolved or until facts are available to make an informed decision. It is not a presumption of guilt or a sign of inevitable sacking. If they had sacked him for standing for ACT it certainly would have been a suppression of political freedom. But they haven’t.

Tan would have known this as he is an organiser and, you’d assume, an employment expert. But instead his party and his advocate have spent their time making public statements about political discrimination and even, absurdly, racism. It also looks like this has been done with Tan’s approval as can be seen in his comment on Kiwiblog directing people to the NBR story about his situation. The word is that he has not exactly been shy about talking to journalists either, which is very strange behaviour for someone who has not even had his first employer meeting to discuss the issue. It could certainly be argued that by doing so he has unwarrantably brought his employer into serious disrepute which would be clear grounds for dismissal. Tan and his advocate would realise this in which case it’s likely Tan has no interest in being employed by the EPMU but does have an interest in attacking them for political gain.

But that doesn’t mean the EPMU has played a particularly smart game either. When they suspended Tan they would surely have been aware that it would go straight to the media as his party is well known for their media-whoring and opportunism and in my opinion they should have allowed him to continue to work there but not have made any concessions to his second job (which is what a serious candidacy effectively is).

The EPMU is now in a position where they would be reasonably expected to fire Tan (if they did not they would be providing a situation in which “disparity of treatment” could enable other staff to attack the reputation of the union in the media with impunity) but in doing so they will open themselves up to the unfounded accusations of political bias we are already seeing from people who don’t understand (or more likely don’t wish to understand) the nature of suspension. They could possibly put him back on duty but with a final written warning for his media stunt but again that then sets a pretty high dismissal threshold and would make it hard to deal with similar situations in the future.

So the basic choice it seems the EPMU has is to:

A) fire Tan and expect to be attacked in the media

B) keep him on and effectively open themselves up to other attacks like this in the future.

It is highly likely there’s more to the situation than the small amount of information we have indicates. In which case there is likely to be an option “C”, as it is so often with employment issues, only time will tell.

[UPDATE: Some excellent points from Jafapete, a dude who knows more than a little about employment law.]

54 comments on “Reflections on Shawn Tan”

  1. randal 1

    tan is just another kreepy act party member twying to be “funny” like wodney

  2. What else would one expect with this predicable control freak government – who enjoy the delights of deceit in a sickening and sinister Absolute Power regime.

  3. The issue is about breaching the collective agreement and not about discrimination on the grounds of political opinion.

    Funnily enough, that’s what the NBR story makes fairly clear to anybody with a modicum of employment relations knowledge and not too much bias. That Farrar tries to make out that it’s about political opinion is not surprising.

    That said, Andrew Little’s reported comments to Newstalk ZB give me some pause for thought. But they may well be taken out of context.

    I would add a third option for the EPMU. Final warning for the media attacks and no leave or time off for electioneering as the support centre has only 4 staff and he clearly can’t be given time off anyway. And, as long as he is providing good advice to the EPMU members, let him think whatever he wants.

    Edit: Just saw the mention at the bottom, for which many thanks.

  4. polaris 4

    Surely its a breach of human rights legislation if you have to seek permission to stand for Parliament?

  5. IrishBill 5

    Hi Pete, I’d tend to agree with your option as while it could potentially set a bad standard for later, similar circumstances disparity of treatment is notoriously difficult to pursue without those circumstances being extremely similar. And this employment issue is certainly one out of the box.

  6. Macro 6

    “That said, Andrew Little’s reported comments to Newstalk ZB give me some pause for thought. But they may well be taken out of context.”

    What NewsTalk ZB say and what Andrew Little most LIKELY said, are I suspect like chalk and cheese. Even our erstwhile National Radio are not above putting the most NEGATIVE and Muck Stirring spin that they can on any supposed News report. I listen to someone talking to say Geoff Robertson on Morning report and 5 mins later I hear on the News report a completely different version of what was said by the person being interviewed and then quoted out of context. I just despair. As for ZB – their reporting is even worse. In fact I now take any radio news reports of what has been said by someone, as most likely to be untrue.

    Just as an aside have you noticed lately that on National Radio we have each “news” item finish with “National says…… ” No question of whether this is a valid opinion or not.
    eg the defence “double-dipping” saga.. Phil Goff had just given a full explanation of why he was referring the matter on to the AG.. and the report ends “National says…. “. It seems all they are really interested in is creating controversy, and if that means putting a spin on it – well so be it! Its just that the truth of the matter is lost in the process.

  7. Macro 7

    “Surely its a breach of human rights legislation if you have to seek permission to stand for Parliament?”

    If you are a public servant you have to take leave.

    If you are in private employment it is I would have thought only courteous to ask leave of your employer to take time off to run for office – or do you think that all employers should be made to pay the wages of an employee who decides to stand for public office and wont – if they are campaigning – be doing much of what they are paid for? I don’t think you would find many employers who would agree with you. They moan enough about having to pay for 4 weeks leave!

  8. polaris: “Surely its a breach of human rights legislation if you have to seek permission to stand for Parliament?”

    What Macro says. But here, go look for yourself. Best of luck!
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0082/latest/DLM304212.html?search=ts_act_human+rights&sr=1

    Captcha for the rugger buggers: complained Graham

  9. George.com 9

    Tan should actually have the foresight to resign from his position. Standing as an ACT party candidate is the antithesis of the values held by the EPMU. Working for a union is no place for someone who wants to be heavily active in the ACT Party. I am sure the Maxim Institute would not agree with someone working for them who is a member of AMBLA, nor a christian religious church stand a Satan worshipper working for them. Likewise, an ACT politician working for a union. Unions are highly political organisations, even more so that the EPMU was one of the founding groups on the NZ Labour Party. The ACT party stands against the interests of hard working Kiwis. Therefore, if he holds ACT NZ views, Tan should do the decent thing and give his notice.

  10. dave 10

    Unfortunately, this is one of the most balanced posts regarding the Tan affair

  11. r0b 11

    sickening and sinister Absolute Power regime

    Hmmm – Absolute Power – you know, that would be a good title for a book.

  12. Dave you illiterate retard – you’re not really an authority on balance now are you.

    In fact you’re not really an authority on much at all…

  13. Wayne 13

    Ha! I heard Rodney Hide running the racism line on Radio Live yesterday. You should have heard James Coleman’s double-take. He was like “Um, what the fuck???”

    Not a good look for Rodders and young Tan. Say what you like about the Nats, at least they wouldn’t make an amateurish gaffe like that.

    One thing is for sure, ACT are using this as a publicity stunt and a cheap shot at the country’s most powerful union, and they’ve probably been planning it for some time.

  14. randal 14

    well it is the sort of crummy joke that would blow wodneys hair back if he had any. I bet he and woger dugwas and wichard pwebble are weally having a big larf about now.

  15. Is that right wandal? Now, now, go away and suck a toe jam smelly jandal.

    But, you are right, wodney looks like a retarded crome dome when he flirts the Miami Vice demons’ jacket. Woger and wichard are just fossil wankers.

  16. ernesto 16

    Sorry Jafapete, but I think you are wrong. The issue will become what matters EPMU are properly permitted to take into account in making the decision as to whether Tan gets permission. If the permission is declined, Tan will stand anyway, face disciplinary action, and then argue that the nature of his (and ACT’s) political beliefs were erroneously taken into account in reaching the decision. Little’s comments will give strong support to that claim. I have no doubt that Little was experiencing a brain implosion when he made the comments.

    If the breach of contract is argued, Tan will claim that it was clear from Little’s comments that, if he did seek permission, his political views would ‘unlawfully’ be taken into account, depriving the process of ‘reasonableness’. Only way out now is for EPMU to let him campaign and work on.

    If breach of contract is argued – Tan wins based on Little’s comments. If permission to stand is refused – Tan still wins on Little’s comments.

    Tan has just pulled a classic Steve Crow. Win-Win and a shitload of free publicity to boot. ACC and EPMU should get together to start a support group for victims of free-publicity-whores.

  17. Ernesto,

    I have replied more fully on my own blog. Leaving aside the issue of how well the EPMU have responded to this very obvious stunt, you are just getting a little ahead of yourself in the rush to judgement. But then you’re not the only one.

    The EPMU have to argue breach of contract of some sort on Tan’s part — otherwise they’re the ones who have breached the contract, possibly breaking the law as well.

    Sure, if I were Tan’s lawyer I’d be making great play of Little’s comments in court. But Little’s comments sounded hypothetical, and there has to be a strong possibility that they have been taken out of context, that Little garbled his thoughts, or there was a leading hypothetical question, or some combination or permutation of these possibilities.

    So we should wait to see what the counter-arguments are before *we* start determining the outcome, should it get to court. It’s the Authority member’s or judge’s decision to make, after hearing all the evidence and arguments.

  18. higherstandard 18

    Interesting thanks to JP for a good synopsis of the situation and an excellent solution for the EPMU.

    i must admit I didn’t think that ACT was so despised by some parts of NZ being variously differentiated from the EPMU in the most bizarre terms.

    r0b perhaps you could explain it to me succinctly – what is it about ACT that gets peoples backs up at this blog so much, is it there advocacy for individual contracts or have they at some stage come out and said they’ll ban unions ?

  19. deemac 19

    basically by suspending Tan on full pay, the EPMU is paying for him to be a full time ACT campaigner – that may seem fair to some people but it looks pretty shabby to me.
    If you know your contract says you have to tell your employer about outside activities/conflicts of interest etc then there really is no excuse for not doing so – unless you planned all along to get a union to pay for anti-union activity!
    As I say, pretty shabby behaviour by Tan and ACT

  20. As I understand it, the very clause requiring permission to stand is illegal, as the clause itself constitutes discrimination on political grounds. One shouldn’t have to get permission from ones employer to stand for a political party. It’s not their right to choose how you, I, or Shawn Tan excercises their democratic rights.

    I hope the EPMU gives him his job back for their own sakes. Otherwise, I hope Tan has a good lawyer, and gives them a legal thrashing.

    As Idiot/Savant notes (and commenters and bloggers here have been insisting), the EPMU isn’t the Labour Party. Right?

  21. randal 21

    george darroch is a simpleton looking for a cause. who wants a canker in the camp. why doesnt tan get a job with the manufacturers or the round table. they are supporters of wodney and woger and wichard…oh I forgot…he’s already employed by them to mess up the epmu!

  22. Wayne 22

    George Darroch – he hasn’t lost his job, he’s suspended on full pay.

    You don’t get it do you? The EPMU has no obligation to accomodate any of its employees in what is effectively a second job and as such it requires a process of approval and declaration of potential conflict of interest. Tan chose to play politics instead.

    “I hope Tan has a good lawyer, and gives them a legal thrashing.”

    Why would you wish an Act Party candidate who’s playing a cynical media game to boost his profile and undermine a major union “has a good lawyer and gives them a legal thrashing”?

    Given your constant hostility to organised labour in this country I’m starting to wonder if perhaps you’re another Shawn Tan in waiting, George.

  23. Has Tan unilaterally gone on leave then? If he’s doing this in his own time, then he shouldn’t have to even mention it to his employers.

    Wayne, I’m not hostile to organised labour, I’m hostile to organised Labour.

  24. Wayne 24

    I don’t know George, and neither do you. I think we should be careful not to jump to conclusions without the full facts. We should definitely be careful not to line up with a cynical Act Party media campaign and against organised labour.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “organised Labour” either. You should probably explain yourself, at the moment you just sound like an angry jerk with a chip on his shoulder.

  25. monkey boy 25

    As no one reads monkeyswithtypewriters, I shall,(with your indulgence IB) record my observations here:
    I have mixed feelings about the decision by the EPMU to suspend Shaun Tan because he is standing as an MP for the ACT Party.
    When Don Pryde announced he would stand for Dunedin South, I thought it was a good thing, but when Clare Curren stood I did not, based on my own feelings about their experience and capabilities. But I did not base those judgements on the choice of Party they stood for, regardless of how or where I might agree or disagree with their agendas.
    In response to accusations that I had jumped to baseless conclusions about the Tan situation, I did a little research and came up with sentiments such as:

    “You also forget the Clare Curran was the PR force behind the EPMU’s fair share campaign and still has very good links with the movement. Anyone who knew anything about how Labour and the unions work would know that Curran would have had the EPMU’s backing if her candidacy was serious.’ (Tane – kiwiblog 30th october 2007)

    ‘ see EPMU President Don Pryde has thrown his hat in the ring for the Dunedin South seat and has the full backing of his union. ‘ (Irish Bill The Standard Oct. 30th 2007)

    “Asked about whether he had discussed supporting Mr Pryde with party president Mike Williams, Mr Little said he had met to talk about the party rejuvenation in general and spoke on the need for new candidates.’ (Herald Oct 31st, 2007)

    All endorsed in the Standard, Herald and kiwiblog, by ‘friends’ of the EPMU.

    On the other hand it is that case that Andrew Little has indicated that when he goes for Labour Party President/PM job(?) he would ‘step down’ from the EPMU. http://www.salient.org.nz/features/big-dreams-andrew-little

    Now, here come some of those mixed feelings. Firstly Shawn Tan sounds like a flake. A likeable flake, but a flake all the same. I would have to say that he is up there with Curren proving enough experience to do the job of MP. But, in both cases I stand to be corrected.
    Secondly, I recently posted on the EPMU ‘Ticklist’. As I then wrote:
    “These calls to protect workers’ rights are laudable, I personally would endorse and support the following: “Wages Policy’, “A meaningful right to be in a union’, “Right to be treated fairly and with dignity’, “Right to a safe and healthy workplace’, “Decent minimum entitlements’, “Committment to ongoing training and learning’. ‘

    The ‘Right to be Treated Fairly and with Dignity’? It may be the case that Tan, on the merits of his own tenure and in the way that he has dealt with this, is basically exploiting the EPMU at the behest of his new best mates, The ACT Party. Or he might just be a bit dim. But the EPMU here is compromised, and has acted in a way that embarrasses them.

    On one hand, The EPMU is dedicated to protecting the ‘Right to be Treated Fairly and with Dignity’, but on the other, is acting like a dictatorial and high-handed employer, bullying a lowly employee. The EPMU may suggest they have a worker’s contract, but this contract should not be employed as an excuse to waive Tan’s Rights under BoRA should it?

    After all the cant about how John Key will ‘threaten workers’ rights’, and the recent EPMU rallies, is it not now a little strange to witness the EPMU acting like the kinds of capitalist bullies they were set up to oppose? Or has their proximity to the Government sent them into Lord Acton’s famous downward spiral?

    Final mixed feeling. As much as I would probably wish to ‘suspend’ Tan myself, were I in the EPMU’s shoes, that does not mean that I should be able to. The EPMU appear to be a ‘Law unto themselves’. They ‘warmly endorse’ candidates who stand for Labour, but drum the poor sap who stands for ACT out of his job?

    Suspending Tan was a stupid reaction, borne of the above-mentioned arrogance that comes with thinking they are the supreme moral arbiters of what constitutes ‘worker’s rights’. Is Tan being treated ‘fairly and with dignity’ by the EPMU?

    You decide.
    thanks

  26. Daveo 26

    Monkeyboy:

    Claire Curran and Don Pryde aren’t employed by the EPMU, Shawn Tan is.

    According to the NBR the EPMU has this year declined approval for a staff member who wanted to stand for Labour, and I know of at least one EPMU staffer who stood for the Greens last election. Remember also that Shawn Tan didn’t formally apply to the union about standing for ACT, that’s why he finds himself suspended on pay.

    You ask if Tan is being treated ‘fairly and with dignity’ by the EPMU. Yes he is, and then some. Tan is on full pay, and the union has respected his privacy and declined to fight this in the media, which is the appropriate thing for a responsible employer to do. As the post points out suspension on full pay is not a presumption of guilt or a sign of inevitable sacking. It is a holding pattern.

    The only damage to Tan is his reputation, but remember Tan broke this into the media by his own choice and for his own reasons, and the coverage you have seen has been shaped exclusively by what he’s gone squealing to the press with.

    I’m sure there’s a lot more to this story that you haven’t heard and probably won’t hear either. That’s how employment issues are. Tan knows this and that’s why he’s taken this line of attack. He doesn’t deserve anyone’s support.

  27. Wayne, I’ve been pissed off with the New Zealand Labour Party since their adoption of free trade and neo-liberal economic policies in the 1980s, policies that they’ve continued throughout the current Government. They’ve reintroduced some worker protections, but the position substantially remains unchanged.

    I’m pissed off that the EMPU (more than any other union in the country – I’m quite favourable towards the SFWU, the Nurses Organisation, CLAW, MUNZ and Unite, for example), and to a lesser extent the CTU have been blindly supportive of the NZLP, at times actively fighting against the Alliance in its heyday, and the Greens. I’ve also heard of examples of Labour MPs actively interfering in the business of the EMPU (from friends on the left, before I get labelled a Tory again).

    I suppose some of my discomfort goes back a few years to when a family member was a steelworker and the EPMU refused to support the striking workers, who had to raise their own support. I believe strongly in the value of unions, and there have been times when I was in casual employment and a union would have been extremely useful (although this feeds into Unite’s critique of the NZ union movement – the established unions have pretty much ignored my workplaces). Shit, I even live with a union delegate! I just get annoyed when they’re not doing their job properly, and I think that their active ties with Labour hinder this.

  28. Ruth 28

    I’ll say he doesn’t deserve anyones support.

    NZ employers may be different,but I can categorically state that if one is employed by US corporates here in NZ one absolutely MUST get approval before standing for ANY political party.

    I don’t feel sorry for Tan at all – in fact he has been treated very well by EMPU. I he had tried such a stunt with Citigroup his office would have been cleared and boxes would be waiting for him by the lift the next morning.

  29. Daveo 29

    George, I don’t mean to butt into your debate with Wayne but everything you speak of is hearsay or from years ago (the alliance bust up and your anecdote about the steelworkers). The EPMU now has a dedicated strike fund to support members and supported my site with strike pay and legal representation a couple of years back when we went out.

    You’ve got no evidence of Labour MPs interfering in union business. I’ve been actively involved in two Labour affiliated unions as well as others and have never seen anything of the sort. I suggest you provide some evidence or withdraw your accusation.

    Unite only has 600 financial members – I don’t think they’re in a position to lecture anyone on how to run a union. I’ve seen them drag workers out on strike with no backing and seen those workers shat on and demoralised too many times. It’s easy to talk big like McCarten does, much harder to follow up with concrete gains for workers and their families.

    Your problem with the NZLP seems to be that they’re not as ideologically pure as you are. Welcome to the real world kid.

  30. Daveo – that story is not an “anecdote”. I remember very well living on food parcels for weeks on end as a child. The other story comes from someone I trust, and who I don’t think was lying to me.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean interfering with, I meant “consulting with”.

    And I’m not asking for the Labour Party to be “ideologically pure”, I’m just asking for them not to support neo-liberal multi-national capitalism, of the type that is putting New Zealand workers out of jobs every week. You wouldn’t think that was a big ask, but apparently this is the same as wanting a government that is a pure as the driven snow.

  31. Daveo, you do have a point about Unite though. Friends of mine have left Unite organising jobs for just the kinds of reasons you mentioned.

  32. randal 32

    I love the epmu. they know how to kick ass. Andrew Little is a great guy and New Zealanders should know it. the right have absolutely no one with his integrity.

  33. Matthew Pilott 33

    r0b perhaps you could explain it to me succinctly – what is it about ACT that gets peoples backs up at this blog so much, is it there advocacy for individual contracts or have they at some stage come out and said they’ll ban unions ?

    Higherstandard, ACT refuses to have dialogue with unions. Here’s a classic piece of ACT being a mature political party: link. Though they don’t have any policy up, I imagine that any employment legislation they would choose to enact would remove any ability for unions to negotiate effective collctive contracts.

  34. higherstandard 34

    Surely the only way to remove any ability for unions to negotiate effective collective contracts would be to either ban unions or ban collective contracts – I would have thought both options would be illegal under NZ’s current constitution.

  35. Daveo 35

    higherstandard: If you remove the right of unions to talk to their members, allow bosses to intimidate workers or sack them for joining a union, allow bosses to refuse to negotiate a collective agreement and remove the legal right to strike then you deal a killer blow to organised labour and to work rights in general.

    That’s what ‘freedom of contract’ means. It’s about restoring the master-servant relationship in the workplace and it’s the complete antithesis of everything unions stand for.

    Shawn Tan has no place in the union movement and if he had any integrity he’d resign immediately.

  36. randal 36

    if you really think that hs then you are very stupid and subscribe to viciuos, prenicious, devious right wing contractual device to ensnare workers and drive their wages down. there fore you are a fool.

  37. higherstandard 37

    Daveo

    Are you sure freedom of contract means –

    allowing bosses to intimidate workers
    sack them for joining a union
    allowing bosses to refuse to negotiate a collective agreement
    removing the legal right to strike

    I would have thought that intimidating workers, sacking them for joining a union and removing the legal right to strike are entrenched in law, and in terms of negotiating a collective agreement I would have thought that most large employers would find this easier and simpler than dealing with multitudinous separate contracts.

  38. Daveo 38

    higherstandard, it’s those rights entrenched in law that ACT wants to remove. They want a completely deregulated labour market.

    Some of the more responsible employers prefer collective agreements and in theory it should be easier than negotiating lots of individuals but the reality is in most cases the negotiation of IEAs is a legal fiction. In unionised sites bosses just pass on the union-negotiated terms and conditions to non-members (freeloaders) or if there’s no union they just tell staff what they’re getting paid with no negotiation.

    You can see why employers looking to reduce labour costs would prefer that to having to deal with strong unions. It’s about removing a voice for workers and handing absolute power over to employers, that’s why I talked about ACT wanting to restore the master-servant relationship.

  39. monkey boy 39

    Daveo I find your input illumionating and informed, but sometimes spoiled by the sentiments such as ‘Tan doesn’t deserve anyone’s support’, and that Tan has ‘no place in the union movement’. On an emotional level, I share those sentiments fo some degree. Where I find it hard to reconcile with those views is that I have found myself in positions where I have had to advocate for poeple for whom I have no liking or little respect for their views, but have had to try to work within the framework available otherwise, when I have to do the same for a more ‘worthy’ cause, I would have no defence against anyone discriminating against them. A lot of what you said back to me was covered in my first post, and perhaps it is the case that the EPMU have simply fallen foul of a PR -coup for ACT (I suggested that too).
    The other point I would like to raise though is that the EPMU are possibly tainted by association with the powers that be, which is why they are prey to accusations of arrogance. ‘fairly and with dignity’? perhaps. With the blessing of the EPMU like Pryde and Curren? certainly not!
    I personally agree with the EPMU’s stance on this issue of Tan, but only on an emotional level. My dispassionate side is suggesting that they should have left him alone and let him burn out for lack of publicity, because he is a flake. However, when you have evidence of gushing endorsements for others who have stood for Parliament, who coincidentally are Labour Party members, it doesn’t help things along.

  40. randal 40

    jeeze who writes that crap fo you monkey boy. its sort of a right wing translation of everything by a robot. 10,000,000,000 monkeys have been typing for a hundred years and finally its payoff time. the chimps are beginning to speak. your specious vapid arguments are a a waste of time. hmmmmmm…must design a robotic spamtrasher…squerrrrkkkkkk

  41. roger nome 41

    yeah – ah-hum … Lee C, perhaps no one reads your blog because your writing style is so self-involved and long-winded? It’s bloody boring to read to be honest. What you convey in 500 words, a concise writer can express in 100 …

    You need to learn how to condense/distill your arguments.

  42. monkey boy 42

    Lol.

  43. monkey boy 43

    randal and eger, Thank you both for those insightful contributions to, I don’t know, something or other… randal your last post is classic. You will be joining the hall of fame which so far includes sonic (who inspired the name ‘Monkeys with Typewriters’) and, ‘eger moron’, with his rather Freudian (I thought) ‘sausage-fingers’ jibe. Thanks boys, you are a chuckle-a-minute.

  44. Dean 44

    roger:

    “You need to learn how to condense/distill your arguments.”

    You need to figure out the difference between before tax and after tax income, too, but I don’t see you doing so.

  45. Benodic 45

    Dean you’re getting boring too. How many times are you going to drag that out?

  46. CJH 46

    And how does that explain the email sent by Andrew to all EMPU members about the situation? How is that acting in a dispute in a confidential way?

    I would love to see the uproar here if this was the opposite scenario. Be honest boys, you would be screaming bloody murder if somebody got fired or suspended for running for Labour/Greens etc. You would go on about political freedoms being raped etc etc….

    Sheesh. Balance please?!

  47. monkey boy 47

    CJH balance is a very threatening concept to some. Good luck all the same.

  48. randal 48

    who cares about a catspaw like tan…gone by morning tea…bye bye

  49. A Beautiful Distance 49

    A Champagne Lunch:

    That’s what is in store for Tan’s attorney after a Tribunal Hearing. What a ham-fisted bunch your Trades Union must be if they insert a clause in their OWN employment agreements which contravenes the majority of human rights legislation in the western world!

    Then, there is the process: If it is sadly true that the union chief has broad-emailed the membership, any rights owed the unfortunate employee have been abrogated by the public airing now given them!

    I know nothing about “ACT” but it is beyond belief that any political party would stand on a platform of removing anyone’s rights, be they workers’, etc… You are surely kidding to argue this is the reality?

    I think the Union is in for a blast from the Judge/Adjudicator who has this tacky mess placed before him/her! Given the Union’s desire to broadcast the circumstances, I wager the Media will be at the courthouse door to report the outcome. Red for embarrassment I suggest!

  50. Tim 50

    I cannot believe that Shawn Tan has the temerity to accept a wage from low-paid workers on the one hand while advocating against them by his candidacy for the ACT party on the other. How on earth can you work for a union while standing for Parliament in a party that essentially wants to eliminate unions?

    I don’t think he has any integrity at all based on his fickle political allegiances.

  51. Daveski 51

    I’m generally critical of SP’s postings but I thought this was bang on the mark.

    Tan comes across flaky while the EPMU has followed the rules but looks far from smart.

    Where I disagree entirely with many comments is the ingrained view that ACT and other parties can’t do anything for the “workers”. With more successful businesses, things won’t improve for employees. There must be checks and balances but fundamentally without business growth this is no growth for employees.

    There is a real distinct between “workers’ rights” and union rights which aren’t necessarily the same thing.

  52. John Drinnan 52

    The union is in a difficult place with Shawn Tan. Clearly there are questions about his employment and the radical turnaround in his politics. But Andrew Little’s comment on Natrad that politics would be a factor in his employment are worrying. This issue is particular sensative with journalists who claim political neutrality but are paying fees to an organisation that is trying to be registered as a third party to assist the vote for Labour. Thats one problem – which the epmu skirts around. Now it seems we may be paying for an organisation that decides which parties its staff can support. The question whyetehr I pay union fees to an organisation that will only hire staff who back Labour or the Greens. It is also who owns the union – a political party and its workers – some or whom are no doubt on this blog anonymously – or its members.

  53. Tim Ellis 53

    A fascinating response from John Drinnan.

    I think about the only outcome from the EPMU can be: “We welcome Shawn Tan’s decision to stand for parliamentary office. The EPMU is an organisation that is actively involved in politics, and a range of people who support different political parties are involved in our union. Shawn Tan is free to continue to work at the EPMU if he does not wish to take time off for campaigning. If he does wish to take time off to campaign, then he has the choice to take unpaid leave between now and the election.”

    Anything else looks like the EPMU are bullying him out of a job because of his political views. I agree with several other people that Shawn Tan seems like he’s a bit of a flake–anybody flip-flopping around like he does between parties is a bit suspect. But that has nothing to do with his job competence.

  54. Swampy 54

    The problem for both you, and Jafa, and the EPMU for that matter, is Little’s repeated politically charged statements about Act’s policies being against the interests of EPMU members.

    The fact is there are quite likely to be other EPMU members who support the Act party, or for that matter the National Party or Winston First or even the Libertarianz… this is likely to be the case for every union in New Zealand due to the monopoly powers granted by the Employement Relations Act.

    That such statements have been made, which are entirely and obviously political, and which are not based on factuality (a percentage of EPMU members, however small, more than likely are supporters of right wing parties), point to the fact that this matter is entirely about the politics of his decision.

    That the EPMU has a contractural clause cannot not take away his right to freedom from political discrimination. If the EPMU chooses to pursue this matter, a lot more people will probably question their supposed third-party status than have up to now.

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