Friday, 22 August 2008

Engineering Union gets Ironic with ACT Candidate

The NZ Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) has suspended one of its employees, after learning he was standing for the ACT Party in this year's general election.

Shawn Tan is ranked at #10 on the ACT Party list released this week, but has been suspended until further notice, officially because he didn't get approval from the union's executive before deciding to stand as an election candidate.

Tan works as an organiser in the EMPU's call centre. The EPMU is affiliated very closely with the Labour Party (although the Electoral Commission crumbled under pressure to allow them to somehow register as a "third party" for election year spending purposes?!)

EMPU President Andrew Little admitted that in the case of someone standing for ACT (which the NZ Herald describes as a "right-wing party"), the choice of party could be additional factor, given that ACT "held positions counter to the union's core beliefs".

The EPMU plans to meet with Shawn Tan next week, and there has been a request for mediation.
I do find it a interesting that it is the EPMU that has suspended Tan. Unions usually fight hard to stop employers from suspending/firing any employee for doing almost anything at all. Now that's what you call Ironic, Alanis!
(No Minister has a tougher description...)

The NZ Herald article
does make an important point...
The Human Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on political beliefs, except where the staff member is an adviser to parliamentary or local body politicians.
I guess the other question is why a Union worker and former Green Party speech writer is being placed at #10 on the list of the most liberal-right party currently represented in the NZ Parliament.

There has been some debate online amongst members and supporters about some of the "bolters" and notable omissions in ACT's party list. The board left former MP and diligent worker Kenneth Wang off the list altogether, apparently to improve his chances against National's list MP Pansy Wong in the Asian-heavy seat of Botany.

Party members say long-time Welfare campaigner Lindsay Mitchell is a glaring omission from the top 10 list of candidates. The high profile ACT veteran was apparently offered a pretty insulting list position of #14 (after having the #9 spot in 2005), behind a number of newbies including Tan.

ACT's top 8 are Party leader Rodney Hide (Epsom), MP Heather Roy (Wellington Central), Party founder Sir Roger Douglas (Hunua), EFA-campaigner John Boscawen, Lawyer Hilary Calvert (Dunedin North), IT specialist Peter Tashkoff, (Te Tai Tokerau), and Farmer John Ormond (Tukituki).
The #5 spot has officially been left empty for the moment... the party says it's still negotiating with a number of potential candidates. Some of those rumoured to be in the mix include former United Party MP Pauline Gardiner, and Christchurch-based broadcaster Jim Hopkins.

(My old mate Clint Heine has denied rumours he's going to get bumped up the final list, and insists he's pretty happy with his 39th list spot (and "UK-based candidate")... despite the fact that gives him as much chance of being elected this year as his old Otago University arch-nemesis Chris Ford, who is #22 on the high-flying Alliance Party list ;)

* NZ Herald: ACT candidate suspended from union job

* No Minister: Stalinist union hypocrites!

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  1. Heine Says:

    I liked standing up to Ford at Otago... pity he was never keen to do the same to me :)

  2. Heine Says:

    Oh and I never denied I wasn't the secret number 5! I would bring plenty to the table :)

    That gives me an idea....