A slightly off-topic post but I’m steaming. Union employee Shawn Tan is currently undergoing disciplinary proceedings with his employer due to the fact that he has decided to stand as a candidate in the upcoming general elections in New Zealand.

Bear in mind that unions in New Zealand have a long history of involvement with the Labour party – so what’s the problem here? Only that Mr Tan decided to stand for the right-leaning Act party.

I’ve long thought that unions were one of the last bastions of the old days of rabble-rousing and professional protestors this sort of carry on does nothing to reduce that perception.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

5 Comments
  • That’s an incredibly brave (or, more likely, an incredibly stupid) move on the part of the employer. Depending on the nature of the disciplinary procedures, they are walking a path straight the the employment court.

    You can’t legally discriminate against someone for their political leanings, regardless of where your company might side itself.

    That having been said, it seems odd that Mr. Tan should be a union member when his political leanings are so far to the right. Admittedly there are certain remunerative and employment condition advantages to being part of a union, but isn’t that just then being hypocritical?

    Where did you read / hear about this one? Is there a news article somewhere?

  • @Phil – He’s a union employee, not member

  • @Phil – just Google Shawn Tan, its in the first few results.

  • Yep. It bothered me too.

    Interestingly, a friend of mine who worked for the PSA years ago said it was the worst employer he ever had.

    I disagree that unions have become irrelevant. But they do need to be consistent. If shawn Tan had his political freedoms restricted in another work place outside of the union, you can guarantee the EPMU would be leaping to his defence.

    http://geniusnet.blogtown.co.nz/2008/08/25/now-the-unions-are-quashing-political-freedoms/

  • I think that unions still have their place in society.
    I think for those in the menaial service areas

    For people who work without contracts, yes it happens especially in the service industry, without sick leave, joining a union can give them some much needed rights and security.

    i do however think sometimes unions need to get their heads out of their arses

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