Has she or any Department of Labour official analysed the contract being offered to workers currently employed on behalf of Telecom; if so, what advice has been given to those workers or their representatives?
No. Neither the Minister nor the Department of Labour gets involved in contractual disputes between private sector companies and their workers.
Has the Minister or her officials read the emails received in her office on this subject over the last month?
I am not in possession of that information myself, but it would be extraordinary if a Minister did not read emails. I am sure that she would have read the emails, or her staff would have.
Does she agree with her colleague John Carter that the contracts are “a crock” and workers should not sign them?
Of course, Mr Carter is acting on behalf of his constituents in his capacity as the member of Parliament for Northland. He is well known for representing their concerns, and that is precisely why he has such a large majority and continues to be voted in by his constituents.
Can the Minister then explain why the contracts are a crock in Northland but are supposedly acceptable around the rest of the country?
If the member had listened more carefully, he would appreciate that the member for Northland was acting on behalf of his constituents. Like all members of Parliament, we hear the views of our constituents. That is the normal role and activity of a member of Parliament; it is not a matter of ministerial responsibility.
Why is the Minister refusing to meet with the National Distribution Union executive this week because, according to the Minister’s office, the Telecom workers who belong to the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, another union, are on strike; and will she be applying the same principle by, for example, refusing to meet with any business representatives this week because Telecom is involved in an industrial dispute?
I am advised that the Minister was unable to meet the National Distribution Union because of a clash of commitments.
Does the Minister agree that there is an inherent issue of employment fairness at stake when the chief executive of Telecom gets $5 million, or more, while the Telecom lines engineers are facing redundancy with no compensation; and will she be considering any measures to help to rectify this awful situation?
I would remind that member that these issues are all resolved under the Employment Relations Act, which was passed in the year 2000 by the then Labour Government.
I seek leave to table a statement from the National Distribution Union saying it was advised by the Minister’s office that the risks are too great for her to come to the meeting, and she cannot meet with the union because Telecom workers are on strike.
Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
In light of the Minister’s response to my second supplementary question, is he prepared to deny in this House that the contract being offered to workers formerly employed on behalf of Telecom is a crock?
Before I ask the Minister to respond to that, I say the Minister is not actually responsible for an employment contract that is being offered by a private company like Telecom. Although I did permit the Minister to give his opinion on the comment made by his ministerial colleague, once we get too far down the track on matters that are properly private matters of the company, it becomes a bit difficult.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a relatively simple one. This is a matter that has been referred on a number of occasions to the responsible Minister’s office. It is something that I am sure the Minister has looked at. She may want to say that she does not want to comment on it, but I think the matter is properly before the House.