Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


EPMU statement on Shawn Tan

EPMU statement on Shawn Tan

10 September, 2008

Following a third meeting with a mediator present, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union has dismissed phone organiser Shawn Tan after deciding Tan's actions had irrevocably damaged the employment relationship.

Until now the union has been conducting a thorough investigation into Tan's employment issues stemming from his wish to pursue public office. The union has been unable to present its side of the story, despite coming under intense attack in the media from Tan and ACT Party representatives.

Now that the investigation is complete the union is releasing all related correspondence in the interests of transparency.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says the issue of Tan's candidacy was never about his political affiliations but about his obligations to his employer, as agreed by him at the outset of his employment.

The issue about candidacy could have been resolved, but the public attacks on the union by Tan and his representatives created more issues to deal with. Even though a return to work was explored as late as last night, this option simply became untenable.

"It would have been possible to resolve the issue of candidacy if Shawn had acted in good faith," says Little, "but actions such as holding a press conference outside our office and calling us racist in the middle of the first proper meeting on the issue significantly changed the relationship with Shawn and the issues got harder.

"Much has been made of Shawn's suspension from his job on full pay, however we were left with no other option when the first confirmation we had of Shawn's candidacy occurred when Shawn and his advocate, ACT Party activist Max Whitehead, insisted the candidacy would go ahead in spite of a requirement to seek approval and then suggested the union pay four months wages to avoid a ‘media storm'.

"The requirement to seek approval for candidacy was agreed to by Shawn at the time of his employment and reiterated at the meeting on July 18. Shawn's agreement to seek approval was made in the context of his disclosure at the beginning of his employment that he intended at some point to become a Green Party MP.

"It should also be noted that Shawn was employed on a probationary basis for six months because of unsatisfactory references from previous employers. The requirement for Shawn to remain focused on union work was expressly part of the probationary arrangement.

"Candidacy for political office would likely have breached that commitment, and his outside political activities were already beginning to interfere with his work. Furthermore, candidacy would have required significant time off work to campaign. Shawn had no annual leave entitlement available to him and had already taken ten days of paid leave during his five months of employment.

"Two other EPMU employees have sought approval to stand for public office this year. One was declined entirely due to operational requirements; the other was approved on the basis that her campaigning time commitments are met out of her annual leave.

"Shawn has insisted in the media that his refusal to seek approval through the proper processes is due to bullying and intimidation at a meeting on July 18. This accusation was investigated very carefully. The only comprehensive written statements came from EPMU officials Bill Newson and Robert Boswell. A full written statement was not at any stage made by Tan, who was reluctant throughout the investigation to answer questions about this meeting, including when asked by the mediator.

"The union has concluded from accounts of this meeting and subsequent email correspondence that there was no threat or intimidation as claimed by Shawn.

"We maintain that Shawn had a good faith obligation to consult with the union over his candidacy and the implications this would undoubtedly have had on his work. Shawn failed to do this. When he was suspended on full pay pending an investigation he chose to attack the union's reputation in the media. A week ago he demanded a $50,000 tax free payout to settle the issue.

"The union has explored alternatives to dismissal but in the circumstances we believe Shawn's actions have harmed the employment relationship beyond repair.In light of this his employment has been terminated."

The full documentation relating to the case can be found at www.epmu.org.nz or can be downloaded directly in PDF format at the links below:

Investigation evidence, part 1

Invstigation evidence, part 2

Letter of dismissal

A full timeline of events is available here.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Back Again: Government Approves TPP11 Mandate

The Government has approved a negotiating mandate for Trans-Pacific Partnership 11 (TPP11), which will ensure New Zealand businesses remain competitive in overseas markets.

Trade Minister Todd McClay says New Zealand will be pushing for the minimal number of changes possible to the original TPP agreement, something that the remaining TPP11 countries have agreed on. More>>




Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice. More>>


Rail: Greens Back Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland Service

The Green Party today announced that it will trial a passenger rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga starting in 2019, when it is in government. More>>


Housing: Voluntary Rental Warrant Of Fitness For Wellington

Wellington City Council is partnering with the University of Otago, Wellington, to launch a voluntary Rental Warrant of Fitness for minimum housing standards in Wellington, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>


Treaty: Agreement In Principle Signed With Moriori

“The Crown acknowledges Moriori was left virtually landless from 1870, hindering its cultural, social and economic development. The Crown also acknowledges its contribution to the myths that the people of Moriori were racially inferior and became extinct." More>>


Susan Devoy: Call For Inquiry Into State Abuse Reaches UN

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is in Geneva and has asked a United Nations committee to urge the New Zealand government to initiate an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions. More>>


(Not National): Cross-Party Agreement On Pike River Re-Entry

The commitment was signed this afternoon by the leaders of Labour, United Future, The Maori Party, and the Green Party and, together with the earlier commitment by New Zealand First, means that there is now a Parliamentary majority behind the families’ fight for truth and justice. More>>






Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election