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Hodgson Out Of Touch With Employers - ACT

ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble today said Pete Hodgson and the Labour Party had again been embarrassed by their lack contact with employers and small business people.

"I am happy to meet Mr Hodgson's challenge. I am releasing the case notes of a meeting with a constituent of mine in Wellington Central and the settlement reached between that constituent and his employee.

"This compares with the Labour Party that claims to be helping a solo mother with seven children on a benefit but still refuses to release details of her case to the Government or to clarify their claims publicly.

"As there was a confidentiality clause in the settlement I am, of course, respecting that agreement and I know the media and even the Opposition will similarly respect this legal requirement. As a constituent this man has the right to keep details between he and myself as his MP confidential.

"Through Income Support my constituent took on an unemployed person to give them a start. The man worked for four days and on the morning of the fifth day he walked off the job.

"The next my constituent heard was that the employee was taking a personal grievance case against him. He sought reimbursement of lost wages from the date of his dismissal until the matter was determined by the Employment Tribunal plus $15,000 compensation for humiliation, stress, loss of dignity and injury to his feelings and payment of the legal costs.

"My constituent made enquiries and found out that his employees had returned to Income Support and said that he had left his job and wanted to go back on the dole.

"The Income Support staff said no, you must go through the 13 week stand down period unless you file a personal grievance case.

"The employee was able to get legal aid to take the case. Legal Aid, needless to say, was not available to my hardworking constituent. My constituent had to go without a lawyer because he could not afford to take one through the whole process.

"The lawyers' letter to my constituent was written on legal aid. My constituent had to pay over $700 out of his own pocket for a letter from a lawyer in reply. The advice was that he should seek mediation.

"When my constituent got to mediation the state paid mediator told him he should settle and that he must offer an amount of money greater than the lawyers' fee. The mediator told my constituent that he had to repay the cost of his employees' legal aid. That cost was $1500.

"So, my constituent complained to me. $4,000 was taken from my constituent's business that he could not afford.

"I am amazed that the Labour Party does not know about these cases. There are dozens of cases being filed against small businesses every day of the working week and under Labour's proposals to repeal the ECA and leave employers at the mercy of the trade unions, the numbers will increase.

"Now that I have produced the facts and figures to back up my case it is up to Pete Hodgson to finally tell the public what the facts are behind the case of Labour's solo mother, '' said Hon Richard Prebble.


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