For the last several weeks the EPMU has had to weather an extraordinary series of attacks from ACT, ACT candidate and EPMU employee Shawn Tan, and right-wing activist/Herald journalist Lincoln Tan. The union has been accused of breaching Tan’s human rights and racism but it has had to respond to these attacks with one hand tied behind its back because, unlike ACT and the two Tans, the EPMU has a commitment to sticking to due process in dealing with employment issues.
Now, that process is complete. Tan has been dismissed from the EPMU for irrevocably damaging the employment relationship by attacking the union in the media following his suspension (on full pay) for refusing to seek approval for political candidacy. Now, the EPMU has issued a press release revealing the full story, as well as a timeline and more than 200 pages of documentation.
Tan was fully aware of the terms of his contract: “The requirement to seek approval for candidacy was agreed to by Shawn at the time of his employment and reiterated at the meeting on July 18. Shawn’s agreement to seek approval was made in the context of his disclosure at the beginning of his employment that he intended at some point to become a Green Party MP.” (what does that say about this guy’s politics and the depth of ACT that he could go from wannabe Green MP to 10 on the ACT list? Or was he only selected to what is, after all, an unwinnable position by ACT to create a media story?)
The requirement to seek approval to be a candidate is enforced, regardless of the political party (contrary to the Herald’s allegations): “candidacy would have required significant time off work to campaign. Shawn had no annual leave entitlement available to him and had already taken ten days of paid leave during his five months of employment. Two other EPMU employees have sought approval to stand for public office this year. One was declined entirely due to operational requirements; the other was approved on the basis that her campaigning time commitments are met out of her annual leave.”
Tan and ACT tried to blackmail the EPMU: “the first confirmation we had of Shawn’s candidacy occurred when Shawn and his advocate, ACT Party activist Max Whitehead, insisted the candidacy would go ahead in spite of a requirement to seek approval and then suggested the union pay four months wages to avoid a â€˜media storm'”
Tan was conducting ACT Party activities on work time (see this attachment that came with the release, Tan was working on a secret agreement between the Asian Anti-Crime Group and ACT for the Chinese vote in exchange for places on the ACT list): “The requirement for Shawn to remain focused on union work was expressly part of the probationary arrangement. Candidacy for political office would likely have breached that commitment, and his outside political activities were already beginning to interfere with his work”
In summary: “Shawn had a good faith obligation to consult with the union over his candidacy and the implications this would undoubtedly have had on his work. Shawn failed to do this. When he was suspended on full pay pending an investigation he chose to attack the union’s reputation in the media. A week ago he demanded a $50,000 tax free payout to settle the issue. The union has explored alternatives to dismissal but in the circumstances we believe Shawn’s actions have harmed the employment relationship beyond repair. In light of this his employment has been terminated.”
The EPMU has acted in a scrupulously fair manner throughout this, even as Tan and ACT have had their disgusting attacks lapped up uncritically by the media. I trust we will now see the EPMU’s side of things given equal coverage.