A Week of It: Radio NZ Ructions – Air NZ Recorded Message Advises Sacking
By The Scoop Team
A Week of It has obtained a letter written by John Howson Radio NZ's networks manager terminating long serving Mediawatch commentator Tom Frewen's contract. Mr Howson advises Mr Frewen that the decision to terminate his contract "follows the publication of your article in the NBR of Friday 10 February 2006 under the banner Media Watch which in [RNZ's] view is contrary to the conflict of interest provisions in the RNZ editorial practices."
Mr Frewen is further advised by Mr Howson that he has been "made well aware of such policies as relevant to the services you were providing."
A Week of It contacted Mr Howson to ascertain just what it was about Mr Frewen's article that lead to this sorry state of affairs. Mr Howson was reluctant to comment on anything specifically relating to Mr Frewen's employment troubles. A Week of It asked Mr Howson if the reason Mr Frewen had been given the boot was because of what the letter terminating Mr Frewen's contract said - namely that "[following] the publication of your article in the NBR of Friday 10 February 2006 under the banner Media Watch which in [RNZ's] view is contrary to the conflict of interest provisions in the RNZ editorial practices."
Mr Howson informed A Week of It that he didn't think one could interpret the reason given in the letter as necessarily being the reason Mr Frewen was no longer working for Mediawatch (RNZ).
Mr Howson explained that the letter simply identified the article rather than any specific reasons for Mr Frewen's dismissal. When asked if it was the article itself that caused concern or the fact that Mr Frewen had written it under the heading Media Watch (NBR) - Mr Howson replied that it was neither of those things and hinted that the reason behind Mr Frewen's departure related to "a much broader picture".
When pressed to give details Mr Howson stated that he would not comment on any specific issues relating to Mr Frewen's employment.
The Dominion Post reported last week that Radio NZ bosses are understood to be unhappy about Mr Frewen's appearance on the CanWest owned radio station, Radio Live. Mr Frewen has a daily show on Radio Live called Parliament Today.
When contacted by A Week of It Mr Frewen stated that he had never informed Radio NZ that he would be writing a column for the NBR – however he had written articles for magazines and newspapers in the past and this had never been a problem. Mr Frewen informed AWeek of It he had been warned about doing a show for Radio Live.
"I am funded by NZ on Air to provide programmes for Radio Live and I was warned [by Radio New Zealand] that if I went on air for Radio Live that would be a conflict of interest," he said.
Mr Frewen considered this attitude to be unfair as he was a freelancer and not a staff member of Radio NZ.
"Radio NZ's editorial policy says 'avoid conflicts of interest' but it doesn't define what is a conflict of interest."
Today Air New Zealand announced that profits were down from previous years. Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe explained in a release that his intention for the future of Air New Zealand was to streamline and reorganise the business. Helping to streamline the business was the announcement that there would be "reorganisation of corporate functions across the Company, impacting approximately 470 employees." For the last few months Air New Zealand's engineers have lived with the prospect of losing around six hundred jobs after earlier efforts at streamlining Air New Zealand's services. However, after accepting a plan hatched by unions representing the engineers, around three hundred jobs look to have been saved.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union was one of the unions that helped rescue the engineers' jobs. Today the EPMU's National Secretary Andrew Little described as unbelievable Air NZ's new scheme to sack hundreds of workers. Which workers will go and what savings need to be made still remain unclear. However in answers to Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee in late 2004 Air NZ admitted that it;
employs 10 public relations and media advisors which cost Air NZ nearly a million dollars. Air New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer earns around 1.2 million dollars 240 staff involved in Air NZ management earn more than $100,000.
The report also pointed out that over 500 employees at Air NZ have a Diners card with no set limit. However, if an employee spends more than $5000 dollars on their card the company is advised.
A Week of It caught up with the EPMU's Andrew Little to get his take on Air NZ's attitude to its workers and asked him if the $38,000 spent on stress relief (per annum) would be enough to cope with the hundreds of stressed workers facing redundancy.
A Week of It was also keen to try and track down one of Air NZ's public relations spokespeople and get the company's side. However, as all media spokespeople at Air NZ were dealing with issues relating to the company's profit announcement for the previous financial year this was not possible. A Week of It was however able to discover a recorded message from the Air NZ's Chief Executive Rob Fyfe explaining to need for more of them to be sacked.
Air NZ CEO Robn Fyfe leaves a recorded message in which he advises staff that to compete in the global marketplace their jobs may need to disappear.
In a rather septic rant from the keyboard of National's foreign affairs spokesperson, Murray McCully, former President of the good ole USA, Bill Clinton and fellow patriots get vinegar poured over their spot under the SkyCity lights. McCully writes: "More easy pickings for Trev. and his colleagues are sure to be found at today’s Global Business Forum in Auckland. For $2 700 a head, the participants from the business community get hot tips on business success from such luminaries as Michael Eisner (fired by Disney), Carly Fiorina (fired by Hewlett Packard), and Bill Clinton (whose relevance to the conference topic must surely lie in the fact that he was impeached by Congress for being on the business when he shouldn’t have been)."
Nasty stuff! Week Of It can only presume Muzza is banking on Ms Hillary not being Prez should National ever regain a finger-hold on NZ's treasury benches. For more of his unguarded comments, see… The Global Business Ripoff – by Murray McCully