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Telecom New Zealand—Employment Contract Advice

Wednesday 26 August 2009 (advance copy) Hansard source (external site)

Mallard6. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) Link to this
to the Minister of Labour

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?

MappHon Dr WAYNE MAPP (Minister of Defence) Link to this

No. Neither the Minister nor the Department of Labour gets involved in contractual disputes between private sector companies and their workers.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

Has the Minister or her officials read the emails received in her office on this subject over the last month?

MappHon Dr WAYNE MAPP Link to this

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.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

Does she agree with her colleague John Carter that the contracts are “a crock” and workers should not sign them?

MappHon Dr WAYNE MAPP Link to this

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.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

Can the Minister then explain why the contracts are a crock in Northland but are supposedly acceptable around the rest of the country?

MappHon Dr WAYNE MAPP Link to this

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.

BradfordSue Bradford Link to this

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?

MappHon Dr WAYNE MAPP Link to this

I am advised that the Minister was unable to meet the National Distribution Union because of a clash of commitments.

FentonDarien Fenton Link to this

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?

MappHon Dr WAYNE MAPP Link to this

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.

BradfordSue Bradford Link to this

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.

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

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?

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

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.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

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.

SmithMr SPEAKER Link to this

I hear the member. I invite the Hon Dr Wayne Mapp to answer the question.

MappHon Dr WAYNE MAPP Link to this

As is well known, Ministers do not get involved in private disputes between private companies and their employees. That is exactly how the Employment Relations Act is supposed to work.

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