A union will conduct a "tour of shame" of Christchurch businesses it says put profit before workers' rights after the September 4 earthquake.
Unite Union alleges that a security firm said a volunteer firefighter could not have time off to respond to an emergency call.
Unite, which represents about 10,000 mainly service workers, said the onus had been on large businesses to look after workers after the 7.1-magnitude earthquake.
Nelson-Christchurch organiser Matt Jones named three employers he alleged had "let down" workers.
Jones seems to have chosen to wage a one-man war against the combined might of the employers of Christchurch. We doubt that he will get much traction with this in the current climate, but we feel honour-bound to bring it to the public's attention.
If ever there was a time and place where unions and employers needed to work together collaboratively it is Christchurch now. There is littkle doubt that a number of small businesses will find the cost of reopening too much. We've heard figures quoted that in just two weeks, the retail sector in Christchurch has lost in the region of $16 million in revenue. Small businesses cannot sustain those kinds of losses for long, especially when the economy is still very much in recovery mode from a global recession.
And it's no surprise that some of the companies that Jones names and shames have been quick to refute his claims:
Brian Young, chief executive of ISS New Zealand, which owns First Security, said it acted "quickly and responsibly to ensure our staff received the appropriate care" and offered counselling. The call centre did hourly checks on security guards across New Zealand and "without this essential service, the safety of 1500 security guards would have been in jeopardy. The reality is that First Security Guard Services was working to ensure the safety and welfare of our security officers protecting people and property in NZ."
Nigel Moody, a lawyer for Reading Cinemas NZ, said Unite's criticisms were "factually incorrect and emotive. Reading Cinemas considers it is a responsible and responsive employer which has acted compassionately and appropriately to all of its employees." The company had made all its post-earthquake decisions after consultation with staff and local management, Moody wrote.
Matt Jones needs to rethink his tactics, in our always-humble opinion. We have no problem in believing Nigel Moody's opinion that Jones' criticsms were ""factually incorrect and emotive".
Employer-bashing is not the way to advance UNITE's interests at this point in time. More to the point, it is not in the interests of the employees whom UNITE purports to represent, and from whom Matt Jones' salary is derived.
Pull your head in Matt; you and your members NEED employers; without them, you yourself would be redundant. Come to think of it, that might just be a good thing ...