Archive

Posts Tagged ‘St John’

St John management applies tourniquet to workers’ throats

20 January 2017 1 comment

.

2-9-1005347922_tshirt-working-class-hero-working-class-syndicalism-unionism-class-war-2

.

Charitable organisation, St John, which operates ambulance services nationwide, as well as other medical services, has been engaging in  anti-worker actions during recent industrial negotiations to conclude a collective agreement.

On 5 January, St John announced that workers wearing apparel bearing a pro-union message “Healthy Ambos Save Lives” would be docked 10% of their wages;

St John Ambulance officers who ditch their uniforms as part of ongoing strike action will have their pay docked by 10 per cent.

The First Union, which represents 1000 ambulance officers across the country, has condemned the move as “astounding”.

But St John says it didn’t take the step lightly, and it was done out of concern for the health and safety of staff and patients.

The wage deductions come as ambulance officers enter their third month of industrial action, following stalled collective agreement negotiations with St John.

Striking workers are continuing to respond to emergencies and call-outs as normal, but are breaching St John policy by refusing to wear uniforms.

Instead, unionised St John workers have been wearing T-shirts reading “Healthy Ambos Save Lives”.

.

ambos_620x310

.

St John clinical operations director, Norma Lane,  ‘spinned’ the wage-docking as a “safety” issue;

“It is important ambulance officers are identifiable in an emergency environment where circumstances can change rapidly. Not complying is a health and safety risk not only to the employee but to fellow officers and other emergency workers. While there is only a very small number of ambulance professionals refusing to wear hi-vis vests, we have advised First Union and our staff that those employees not complying with this requirement will receive a 10 per cent deduction of wages.”

How cutting wages improves safety for workers is not made clear by Ms Lane.

St John’s threats echo that made by AFFCO employers, almost exactly a year ago;

An AFFCO worker has been suspended without pay, and will probably be sacked after filming workers in union t-shirts being refused entry to work, the Meat Workers’ Union says.

.

affco-workers-union-shirts

.

[…]

AFFCO said it was company policy that union t-shirts were not worn on site, and that they were associated with inappropriate and threatening behaviour.

One Union member made his/her feelings perfectly clear with this image posted on First Union’s Facebook page;

.

st-john-ambulance-worker-shirt-first-union-facebook-page

.

What is clear, though, is that St John is engaging in all-out repugnant industrial warfare against the First Union.

St John Station managers have used emotional blackmail, legal threats from law firms,  and deliberate mis-information in a calculated strategy to undermine First Union and its  members’ resolve. As  Ambulance Professionals First spokesperson, Lynette Blacklaws, revealed on 7 November last year;

“When a crew arrived in mufti at a station in Auckland this morning their manager snapped that ‘if someone dies because they didn’t let you in be it on your heads’. This comes on the same day station managers in the Bay of Plenty told several ambulance officers over the phone that industrial action was cancelled, even though this isn’t true.”

More aggressive  anti-union activity was to come.

On 24 November last year,  St Johns announced on it’s media page that it had  concluded a successful collective agreement with the  Amalgamated Workers Union NZ Southern  (AWUNZ), Central Amalgamated Workers Union  (CAWU), NZ Ambulance Association (NZAA), and the Ambulance Officers Workplace Union  (AOWU).

First Union was not a party to the new collective agreement. St John stated on it’s webpage,

It is our preference to have nationally consistent terms and conditions for all St John employees, accordingly, St John and the four union parties have made provision for the First Union members to become party to the new Collective Agreement should they wish

The statement continued with this ominous ‘rider’;

If First Union decides not to become party to the new Collective Agreement, St John will continue to work through the various options available.

On 7 January this year, First Union learned what “various options” St John had in mind. As reported in The Daily Blog, St John was flexing it’s industrial muscle using new anti-union laws passed by National in 2015.

The union representing over 1000 St John Ambulance staff has today received confirmation from the Employment Relations Authority that St John has lodged an application to withdraw from bargaining without concluding a collective agreement.

If St John were to be successful they would be the first company to withdraw from bargaining without concluding a collective agreement under the 2015 amendments to the Employment Relations Act.

Simply put, National’s so-called “reforms” allowed employers to cease negotiations to conclude a collective agreement with a union, by applying to the Employment Relations Authority;

Before the law change, parties bargaining for a collective agreement were required to conclude that agreement unless there was genuine reason not to. The change means that a collective agreement does not have to be concluded, however parties must still deal with each other in good faith.

[…]

The Act provides some protections against parties that end bargaining by deadlocking on one issue. Specifically, either party can seek a declaration from the Employment Relations Authority (the Authority) about whether bargaining has concluded. The process is discussed in more detail below.

First Union officials were not impressed. They understood the agenda that St John was playing out;

Jared Abbott, spokesperson for Ambulance Professionals First, the network within FIRST Union representing ambulance officers, said the application confirms what the union suspected: that St John had no intention of reaching an agreement.

“St John have spent less than two hours with us at the table since we started our protest actions. Applying to conclude bargaining now is outrageous. This is no way to treat your staff.”

Mr Abbott said that despite writing to the company on several occasions and requesting a proposed collective agreement, St John repeatedly refused to make a formal offer.

Ambulance Professionals First has also written to St John highlighting how no collective agreement was presented to the ratification meetings for the smaller unions who agreed to settle, a requirement under the law for a collective agreement to become operative.

“We’re astounded with how unprofessional St John has been. Ambulance staff just want fair recognition for the hard work they do. This is only going to get more staff off-side,” said Abbott.

“We don’t believe St John’s application will be successful.”

St John is using ‘the stick’. Other employers opt for ‘the carrot’ to break legal strikes;

.

junior-doctors-offered-up-to-200hr-to-break-strike-union-radio-nz

.

Whether by ‘carrot’ or ‘stick’, the bosses’ agenda remains the same: to smash unions and undermine workers’ rights. The end result – dampen wage growth and wind-back hard-won worker’s conditions.

St John management’s unscrupulous behaviour makes a mockery of that organisation’s so-called “five values”;

We do the Right Thing – Whakaaro Tika
We take responsibility. Make the tough calls. Think of others.

We stand Side by Side – Whakakoha
We respect, value and support what others contribute.

We Make it Better – Whakawerohia
We find solutions- step up, own it, do it.

We have Open Minds – Whakahangahanga
We listen openly. Encourage ideas. Welcome feedback.

We are Straight Up – Whakapono
We act with honesty, courage and kindness.

They even have ‘badges’ proudly displayed on their webpage;

.

values-strip-st-john-hypocrisy-union-bashing

.

Obviously St John’s “five values” do not extend to their own workers.

Curiously, whilst St John proudly announced it’s collective agreement with four other unions on its “News Articles” page, it made no mention of it’s application to the Employment Relations Authority to abandon negotiation with First Union;

.

st-john-our-news

.

Neither has it disclosed to the public on it’s website that it is taking draconian steps to dock ambulance drivers’ pay packets by 10% for  wearing shirts bearing union messages.

Is St John ashamed to present this information on their website, where public eyes can see what the organisation is doing to it’s ambulance drivers? It is evidently not a “good look” that an organisation nearly a thousand years old, and  dedicated to helping people, is screwing its own staff.

According to Norma Lane, the wearing of the First Union shirts constitutes   “participation in a partial strike” and thereby justifies docking ambulance drivers’ pay.

Which is about as mean-spirited as a charitable, non-profit organisation can get. As  Jared Abbott correctly pointed out;

“The wage deductions are pretty astounding. The actions ambulance officers are taking cost St John nothing.”

At first look, St John’s actions appear to contravene the Wages Protection Act 1983 which prevents employers from arbitarily docking workers’ pay;

Deductions may only be made from an employee’s pay if they are required by law, agreed to by the employee or are overpayments in some circumstances.

However, it appears that St John is stretching an exemption to what is known as a “partial strike“;

Employees strike when a number of employees totally or partially:

  • break their employment agreement
  • stop work or don’t accept some or all the work they usually do
  • reduce their normal output, performance, or rate of work.

Employees don’t have to stop work completely for them to be on strike.

However, one suspects that more reasonable-minded people would find it difficult to define a “partial strike” as wearing a shirt. If that is St John’s justification for docking ambulance drivers’ pay, then it may be on very shaky ground, both legally and morally.

Whether by luck, or clever design,   this has all transpired over the Year’s End/New Year period when current affairs programmes such as The Nation and Q+A are on hiatus, and even Radio NZ is operating on a “summer holiday programme”. The later  is closer to listening to The Breeze rather than serious news and current affairs.

Once the public begin to understand the machinations of St John’s management, that organisation’s reputation may risk a real hit. “A good reputation” as Colin Beveridge once reflected on,  “is hard-won and easily lost. But the lost reputation has invariably been given away by the actions of the holder, rather than been taken away by somebody else.”

Words that St John’s management would do well to consider.

St John – heal thyself.

.

Postscript

.

big-pay-rises-for-district-health-board-heads

.

It will be interesting to find out what salary increase St John’s CEO will have this year or next.

 

.

.

.

References

St John: Ambulance Services

St John: A quick snapshot of what we do

NZ Herald: St John ambulance officers to have pay deducted over industrial action

Radio NZ: Worker suspended over union t-shirts

Facebook: First Union – Healthy Ambos Save Lives

First Union: St John threatens jobs… over wearing a badge

First Union: St John employ “emotional blackmail” in badge dispute

St John:  AWUNZ, CAWU, NZAA & AOWU Unions and St John reach agreement

The Daily Blog: St John apply to end bargaining with FIRST Union

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MoBIE): Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (March 2015)

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MoBIE): Law changes to collective bargaining

Radio NZ: Junior doctors offered up to $200/h to break strike – union

St John:  Vision & Values

St John: News Articles

St John: The Order of St John

Radio NZ: Ambulance staff to have wages cut over strikes

Employment NZ: Deductions

Employment NZ: Strikes and lockouts

Fairfax media: Big pay rises for district health board heads

Additional

Facebook: First Union

Facebook: Ambulance Professionals First

Previous related blogposts

If anyone wants to see the Working Class

Help Talley’s Affco Workers!

Immovable and Irresistable forces – combined!!

The Talleys Strikes Back

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 7. Part 6A – stripped away

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 8. An End to Collective Agreements

.

.

.

c2exqbyvqaagkgr

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 January 2017.

.

.

= fs =

Advertisements

What killed Rugby?

11 August 2011 26 comments

We all know the saying about killing geese that lay eggs made of precious metals… But the the lesson seems to have firmly evaded those who organise rugby in this country, and indeed, worldwide.

It seems that huge truckloads of cash has severely blinded the IRB and NZRU to what this game should be about;  enjoying rugby.

Instead, it has became an exercise in marketing, ticket sales, squashing anyone who wants to sell pizza, and branding. It’s all about money, money, and more money.

Firstly, common sense has eluded the mind of Rugby World Cup minister Murray McCully, who okayed the use of cans at all rugby venues.

Up till now, beer had been served in featureless, light, disposable plastic cups. This was to prevent cans and bottles being used as unguided missiles by intoxicated rugby fans.

But Heineken is a major sponsor, and they want their brand prominent at all 13 games. That means selling cans, with the brand-name ‘Heineken’ clearly visible, instead of the safer, unbranded, plastic cups.

.

.

So what Heineken wants, Heineken gets: cans.

Never mind if  someone is injured by drunken hoons tossing cans. That evidently doesn’t matter. Evidently what matters is branding. Heineken wants you to know that the can that flew across the bleachers and concussed you was a Heineken – and not one of their competitors. This is important – so please remember to tell the medics when they arrive to treat you.

Money speaks with a very loud voice.

Then, in April, we heard the unbelievable situation that RWC fans will only be able to use cash, or mastercard (another sponsor) eftpos terminals at the games’ stadia.

.

.

Evidently a third form of payment will be available; “Tap & Go” cards. But these are not re-chargeable and fans will have to pay $5 to $10 for each new card.

So expect your method of payment to be controlled.

Though I’m surprised the WRC organisors haven’t tapped John Key on the shoulder and asked for a law change. At present, cash is the legal tender of this country. Imagine if the IRD/NZRU could deny fans the right to use cash.

Though I guess the government could always re-print our currency, with an WRC sponsor’s name on each bill. Why not? They’ve already shown a willingness to change our laws for other corporations.

Perhaps the worst example of greed is local bodies charging extortionate amounts for local businesses to amend their hours to cater for the influx of rugby fans.

For example, “to open later on game days, Papa’s Pizza and nearby businesses will have to pay between $7500 and $12,800 to a special Rugby World Cup “enabling” authority to hurry up the usual resource consent process.”

.

.

“Enabling Authority”? More like a local protection racket! But all quite legal according to the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Act 2010, Part 3.

What a money-extorting piece of legislative bureacracy this is!!

And all enacted by a National Government that constantly harps on about how bureacratic “red tape” is strangling entrepreneurial business in this country.

So what gives with the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Act?!

If this isn’t political interference in little business – then someone tell me what is?!?!

Auckland Council licensing and compliance manager Carole Todd admitted that costs to applicants for Part 3 approvals were “fairly high”, and said that,

“However these charges are set down in regulations and cannot be modified.”

The Ministry of Economic Development administers the Act.  Ministry senior solicitor Robert Rendle said,

“There are going to be a lot more people in Auckland who are going to be frequenting bars so it might be financially beneficial to pay the cost.”

In other words – pay up, schmuck! Or Luigi over there will put the heat on ya, reallll good.

Perhaps that is not as cheeky as Heineken/DB Breweries secretly reducing the size of their beer  glasses from 425ml to 400ml – whilst keeping the price of each pour the same. So 25ml less beer – for the same price. DB has also increased keg, Heineken, Export, Tui, Monteiths and DB Draught tap prices.

.

.

It seems that milk drinkers aren’t the only ones being milked in this country. Although the irony here also hasn’t escaped me; we were expecting to “swindle” overseas visitors with high accomodation charges – not be rorted ourselves.

In answer to media questioning, DB Breweries’ hospitality general manager Andrew Campbell said,

“In light of events in Christchurch, and in recognition of the challenges many operators are facing in this recessionary environment, we decided to delay our price increase [from April 1] until June.”

They’re blaming price rises and furtive reduction in glass sizes on the earthquakes in Christchuurch???

WTF???

Well, I guess that makes a change from blaming sunspots, I guess.

And of course, there will be special “Sponsor Police” roaming the country, looking for anyone daring to “cash in” on the WRC without “authorisation”, or to prevent “ambush marketting”.

.

.

.

Economic Development Ministry solicitor Rob Rendle said there were no plans to set up special courts in New Zealand, to catch and prosecute unauthorised business activity although it could be appropriate to have judges on call to consider urgent matters that came up. “It’s just a possibility at this stage.”

Special courts? Oh, perish the though, Rob. Just summary execution out the back of the Stadium.

There.

Sorted.

Are we having fun yet, peeps?

In case not, even those offering free, humanitarian assistance are being targetted by the vengeful alien fiends that currently pose as human beings running the WRC.

I refer to the St Johns ambulance service (the humanitarian assistance – not the vengeful aliens).

.

.

Yes, my fellow kiwis, the WRC organisors have “leaned” hard on St Johns – forcing them to cover up the sponsors of their ambulances, equipment, and clothing that may have been sponsored by community groups or business organisations in this country.

St Johns is a charity that relies on the generosity of businesses (such as the ASB) so they can go out and save lives.

St Johns is not a business itself.

St Johns has not charged a blimmin cent (that I know of) to the WRC for their services.

In return, to show their gratitude, the WRC have demanded that St Johns cover up the ASB logos of their sponsor. That’s pretty damned low.

If I’d been St Johns, I would have politely told the WRC to go take a flying leap into White Island, and hire their own medics and ambulances. Let the NZRU pay for emergency services if they’re going to be so miserly.  At the very least, I expect NZRU to make a very generous donation to St Johns for all this carry-on.

And when I say “generous”, I’m talking six figures, minimum.

What are the chances? Well, judging by the common sense and generosity of spirit shown by the WRC and sponsors… Nil.

Contemptible.

Perhaps the most bizarre of all this naked greed; shameless price gouging; and merciless strong-arm tactics is this,

.

.

To quote the NZ Herald, to show I’m not making up this farce;

“Heineken is keeping a close watch on Lion Nathan after its Steinlager “white can” advertising campaign inched near to breaching its Rugby World Cup rights.

And the brewer – represented by DB Breweries in this country – is confident World Cup rights managers IMG will blow the whistle if its future ads go too far.

Heineken is an official sponsor of the tournament at a global level, while Steinlager is a sponsor of the All Blacks team. This means it can use its association as the All Blacks’ official beer, but it can’t claim any association with the Rugby World Cup.”

Both Breweries are sponsors – but they sponsor slightly different aspects of the event. I can’t even begin to tell you how utterly absurd this situation is.

Not content with harassing fans or small businesses, even the sponsors are beginning to cannibalise and consume each other?

Which brings us to the present, and current debacle,

.

.

Perhaps someone from On High can explain to me, and to 4.4 million other New Zealanders; how did we get to this?

How did we get to a situation where a foreign corporation now owns the clothing rights to a  “brand” that is one of our  most cherished institutions (the All Blacks – in case you had forgotten what this was all about – and I bet you had!) and can sell goods back to us with that “brand”, at exorbitantly high prices?!?!

Of course, I guess this was inevitable, really. We’ve been busily selling off our state assets, businesses, and farms to all and sundry – and then buying back the products/services that we once produced ourselves.

I bet it was only a matter of time before it happened to one of our most iconic institutions.

How did it get to this?

The answer is idiotically simple. We allowed it to happen. Because, truth to tell, my fellow New Zealanders – sometimes we are none-to-bright when it comes to dealing with big companies apparently offering us truckloads of money.

Oh, for the simple days, when rugby was rugby, and sponsorship consisted of a few plastic-corflute boards placed around a playing field.

.

.

We have well and truly given away our innocence. That, folks, is what killed rugby.

Are we having fun yet?

***

+++ UPDATE: More RWC Silliness +++

.

Full story

.

Full Story

.

Full Story

.

Full Story

.

Copy of sign seen in Greater Wellington Region, erected by supermarket. Clever buggers! (Sign’s corporate colours and company name have been redacted. This blog has no wish to assist RWC “sponsorship police”.) Note the blackened-out rectangle – what could that possibly signify?

.

.

 

***

.

Further Reading

Tew threatens to pull out of next World Cup

NZRU boss Steve Tew lobs a grenade at the IRB

Aussies back NZRU over World Cup complaint

NZ must reap what it has sown over World Cup

.

.