One rule for us

Think of a workplace where a staff member felt he had legitimate concerns about bullying which had not been adequately addressed.

Think about that worker being so upset that he went public with his concerns.

Think about the response if the worker’s boss responded publicly by insinuating that the worker was the one who was mishandling those working for him.

Think about the boss deciding not to investigate the allegations made by the staff member, instead calling a meeting of co-workers to discuss the staff member’s future to which he was invited then calling another, earlier, meeting to which the worker wasn’t invited.

Think about the second meeting which the aggrieved worker didn’t attend, at which it was decided his behaviour was so bad he’d be permitted to carry on his work, but suspended from the workplace team.

Think what would happen when the worker took a personal grievance case to the Employment Relations Authority.

Regardless of whether the worker was at fault, he would almost certainly be awarded damages for hurt feelings and probably reinstated in his job.

That could be any workplace in the private sector, and possibly any in the public sector, but not in the Labour Party caucus.

Labour’s treatment of Dr Gaurav Sharma is very much a case of one rule for us and another for them.

It reinforces my view that the party makes such union-friendly and employer-unfriendly industrial relations laws because it thinks everyone treats staff as badly as it does.

That isn’t to say Sharma is right nor that he is the only injured party. Former staff members have criticised him which has prompted Heather du Plessis-Allan to ask why then hasn’t Labour instigated a proper inquiry?

. . .Clearly, on the balance of probability, he is not an innocent here. He has three staff members complaining to the media about him 

But just because he might have behavioural issues, it doesn’t absolve the Labour Party of the allegations he’s laying. 

He claims to have been bullied by former senior whip Kieran McAnulty and by current senior whip Duncan Webb and that the Prime Minister’s office did nothing to stop it.

He claims that he asked them to investigate his complaints and they wouldn’t’ 

Why? 

Any good operator would’ve ordered an investigation by now for two reasons:

First; you shut the story down.

Look at what happened to the Nats with the Sam Uffindell stuff. Those allegations were in the news for two days, the Nats ordered an investigation, and the stories stopped because we all knew we’d find out the truth in 2-3 weeks.  

Now compare that to Labour’s handling of this mess. This is the sixth news day about Sharma. They could’ve shut this down days ago. 

But also, the second reason, due process. 

Here is a guy claiming bullying and being accused of bullying and it’s got very complicated and murky to all of us watching. 

The right thing to do for his sake and for the sake of Kieran McAnulty and Duncan Webb – all of whom risk having their reputations blemished by this – is to order an investigation and clear the names of the innocent parties.

So why won’t the Labour Party do that?  

A generous reading is that they don’t’ want to tie up the time of people they know are innocent. A less generous reading is they don’t’ really want to know what an investigation would unearth. 

They run the risk that while this ends as a news story, but none of us are ever really sure what happened and are left forever suspecting that while Gaurav Sharma might’ve been a bully himself, he was right and Labour were bullies too.

Labour has left the door open for Sharma to be readmitted to caucus but how likely is that when he still feels so aggrieved?

That someone told Sharma of the meeting to which he wasn’t invited suggests he has at least one friend in caucus who puts loyalty to him before loyalty to caucus.

An inquiry could have settled matters, instead it provides ammunition for those accusing Jacinda Ardern of being anything but kind and it will continue to fester.

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