The Taxpayers’ Union has released figures showing that MPs are chewing through more than $65,000 per month on payouts to avoid messy employment grievances.
"While every other New Zealander must follow the letter of employment law, MPs are often ignoring it and having the poor taxpayer fund the resulting payouts," says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.
"Many of the payouts result from MPs sacking staff on the spot. It appears that parliamentary officials offer generous settlements to avoid cases going to the Employment Relations Authority."
Parliament can be a stressful place to work involving long hours, a huge amount of pressure, and political masters/mistresses who may not always be making unemotional and rational decisions. But should a different standard apply to Parliamentary Services than for the rest or the workforce?
And it seems that one "minor party leader" has been fingered as being particularly tough to work for; read on:
The Taxpayers’ Union is aware of two examples of instant dismissal due to a minor party leader being unwilling to hear his employee’s response to minor allegations made by a colleague. The former employees were offered confidential payouts from Parliamentary Service well above what the individuals were advised they would be awarded in court.
"Parliamentary Service is effectively buying the silence of former staff, some of whom have been treated appallingly by MPs."
"Parliamentary Service contracts include an instant dismissal clause when there is an ‘irreconcilable breakdown’ of the relationship with the employee’s MP. The legality of the clause is questionable and it appears that the Parliamentary Service offers these generous settlements to avoid them being challenged."
The six months of severance pay figures total $395,941 and show the average payout is approximately $20,000.
Let's say for argument's sake that minor parties start from the Green Party downwards. That means that there are eight potential suspects here; Russel Norman, Metiria Turei, Winston Peters, Tariana Turia, Te Ururoa Flavell, John Banks, Peter Dunne and Hone Harawira. All of the above are now under suspicion as being the "minor party leader" who fires staff on the spot and at will, without following any due process.
Those "minor party leaders" who don't fire staff at will can rightly feel a bit miffed at fingers being pointed at them unfairly. So we call on the "minor party leader" referred to to front up (and we believe that we know who it is) so that the other leaders can be cleared of suspicion. That would certainly be the right thing to do, but we won't hold our breath.