Could WINZ have done more?

March 3, 2015

WorkSafe NZ is prosecuting the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) over the shooting of two WINZ staff in its Ashburton office.

The mother of a woman killed in Ashburton’s Work and Income shooting is disappointed her daughter’s employer has been charged over the incident, saying “nobody could foresee what was going to happen that day”.

WorkSafe NZ today laid a charge against the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) after the shooting on September 1 last year.

Russell John Tully, 48, was charged with the murders of Peg Noble and Susan Leigh Cleveland, and seriously wounding Lindy Curtis, at their Cass St office.

Another staff member, Kim Adams, was shot at as she ran out the back door.

WorkSafe NZ alleges the MSD failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work.

The charge, under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act, was laid in the Wellington District Court.

Cleveland’s mother, Kath Cleveland, said she was disappointed WorkSafe felt a charge was warranted as the shooting could not have been predicted. . .

“The only thing I can say is these WorkSafe people might see something in it that us everyday people don’t see. I don’t know if it is going to help or not,” she said.

Cleveland said her daughter never complained about feeling unsafe at work. . .

The court case will have to make the reason for the prosecution clear.

However, without any knowledge of what has motivated WorkSafe’s decision to prosecute and on the facts made public so far I am unpleasantly surprised by this decision which  will be concerning to all employers.

I have vague memories of a freezing company being prosecuted when an employee was injured as a result of a fight in its car park.

I can’t recall the details but do remember at the time wondering how it could have been the employers’ fault and that was my immediate reaction to the news of this prosecution.

Could WINZ have done more to protect its staff? That is now up to the court to determine.


Who’s a worker, what’s work?

February 19, 2015

Andrew Little was in enough trouble over his failure to pay David Cohen for his services and he was silly enough to make it worse:

. . . But referring to Mr Cohen as “a worker” has made Mr Little grumpy.

“Your commentary talked about a worker,” says Mr Little. “He was a contractor.” . .

This is the man whose first big speech of the year was supposed to appeal to a wider range of workers including small business owners.

There’s no business smaller, in terms of personnel, than that of a single contractor and if a contractor isn’t a worker the logical conclusion is that what he does isn’t work.

So who is a worker and what’s work?

The dictionary says it’s: activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result.

In the context of employment it is also done to earn payment regardless of whether you are an employee or a contractor.

Little’s quibbling over whether a contractor is a worker should serve as a warning to anyone who was mollified by the rhetoric of his speech about reaching out to a broader range of workers.

Whatever he said a couple of weeks ago has been contradicted by his grumpy quibble.

 


More than little late to pay

February 18, 2015

NBR columnist David Cohen wrote in the print edition of the paper last Friday that Labour leader Andrew Little hadn’t paid a bill he’d sent him.

Cohen had been asked to analyse Little’s communication, did so, sent the bill and followed up with phone calls and emails.

It was only yesterday, four months late and after Steven Joyce raised the matter in parliament, that Little paid up:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce attacked Little over his stance on employment law changes after revealing Little had not settled his bill with National Business Review columnist David Cohen.

Writing in the NBR last week Cohen confirmed he did paid work for Little to help him secure the Labour leadership but four months later was still waiting for the cheque.

Joyce said he raised the overdue bill because it was important for Parliamentarians to “pay people promptly”.

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

He said the bill had been sent in good faith but went to his campaign team rather than himself.

“It was on that person’s desk and flitted around some others,” Little said.

“Had it come to me at the time he remitted it, it would have been paid at that time.”

Little would not say what time he paid the bill and whether it was after Joyce raised the issue.

“It hasn’t been paid as a result of what Steven Joyce said in the House but it’s been paid.” . . .

Can Little be blamed for the tardiness of a member of his campaign team and the others whose desks the invoice flitted around?

At least as much as it shows a problem with processes and not just in a huge hole in the way bills are dealt with but also in media monitoring.

The leader of the Labour Party won’t’ have time to read every column inch that’s written but someone in his office ought to be monitoring the media for every mention of him.

I read Cohen’s column last week and it’s difficult to believe that either no-one in Little’s office, caucus and the wider party did.

It is easier to wonder if they did and didn’t alert him.

If no-one monitors the media, or isn’t doing it properly, Little has a problem. If people who are supposed to support him read the story and didn’t tell him, he’s got an even bigger problem.

Four months is more than a little late to pay a bill, especially when you’re leading a party that purports to stand up for workers and wants to court small business people.

There’s no smaller business than a one-man one.

Update: Cohen makes this point on Radio NZ:

. . . He sent in his report and invoice four months ago.

“During that time I followed up the invoice, I called his office, I spoke with Matt McCarten, his Chief of Staff, many emails were exchanged and it became abundantly clear that the waiter had been stiffed, as it were.”

Mr Cohen said he found this ironic given Mr Little’s recent attempts to connect with small business and the self-employed.

“Andew Little has been crafting excellent speeches on the pressures felt by small business, by freelancers, by sole operators and he’s been committing himself to lessening the stress and strain that one in five New Zealanders, like me, experience.

“Now, you can’t really hold forth on these subjects and not look after your own creditors.”

Mr Joyce was being questioned by one of Mr Little’s Labour MPs about whether the government intended to take a tougher line on zero hour contracts.

Mr Joyce used that as an opportunity to take a potshot at Mr Little.

“This is obviously not a zero-hour contract.

“It could perhaps be better described as a zero-payment contract – the employer in this case being then-leadership aspirant for the Labour Party, one Andrew Little, the current Labour leader.” . .

A Chief of Staff and unionist who doesn’t understand the importance of paying bills properly?

Where’s his concern for the worker and where are his political antennae?

 

 

 


Right words no use with wrong policy

January 28, 2015

Labour leader Andrew Little’s state of the nation speech is full of lots of right words – lowest unemployment, dignity, self-respect, families, engine room will be small business, quality of life needs strong economic performance . . .

But all that is empty rhetoric if it’s not matched by the right policies.

That would include at the very least keeping, and better still extending, the 90-day trail period for new employees.

But Radio New Zealand’s 10am news report (which I can’t find on-line) said Labour would be ditching the 90-day trial period.

One of the greatest risks to a small business is the wrong employee – someone who doesn’t have the ability to do what’s required how and when it’s required and who puts more pressure on or  otherwise negatively impacts other employees.

No matter how well someone presents in interviews and how rigorous the reference checks, it’s impossible to tell how someone will fit in the workplace until s/he’s actually in it and working.

Recruiting, inducting and training new staff is a hassle which no business wants to keep doing every three-months. that would waste time, money and physical and mental energy and reduce productivity.

There hasn’t been a lot of employers abusing the process. There have been more employers taking on the risk of taking on new employees because they know they can let them go within 90 days if they aren’t right for the job.

Getting rid of the 90-day trial period would be the triumph of politics over policy that has been proven to work.

Little can carry on saying the right words but they will be meaningless if they’re followed with the wrong policy.
Andrew Little says Labour will stand up for small business. Here’s a quick pop quiz for Mr Little about where he really stands.


Rural round-up

January 9, 2015

Seasonal worker shortage in Central Otago – Dave Gooselink:

A seasonal worker shortage has been declared by the Ministry of Social Development in central Otago as cherry growers look to harvest a bumper summer crop.

That will see work visa rules relaxed for overseas holidaymakers for the next six weeks so that cherries won’t have to be left on the trees.

At the Roxburgh Packhouse a lack of rain has helped produce the biggest crop in years, which is now being processed for the export market.

Summerfruit NZ chairman Gary Bennetts says they’re on track, if the weather stays right, to double the tonnage that was exported from New Zealand last year. . .

Corn seed not so sweet – Gerard Hutching:

A batch of old sweet corn seed given out by McCains to its Hawke’s Bay growers this spring failed to germinate.

A spokesman for McCain Foods confirmed that some “non-performing” sweet corn seed had been distributed to a number of growers in Hawke’s Bay area.

“As soon as the problem was identified, McCain Foods issued new sweet corn seed and a replanting programme was immediately put in place with all costs being met by the company,” the spokesman said. . .

Bill Taylor is dedicated to deer – Diane Bishop:

When Bill Taylor was a boy, deer were wild animals that could only be admired from afar.

All that changed with live deer capture in the 1970s, although it wasn’t until the mid 1980s that Taylor started farming them.

“I had a real passion for deer. I still have,” Taylor said.

His family have farmed at Lora Gorge, near Winton, since 1872, and he and wife Jill were one of the first recipients of the Century Farm and Station Awards. . .

Silver Fern’s Rob Hewett up for top jobs -

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett is in a three-way race for two seats on the meat exporting and processing co-operative’s board.

Director nominations were confirmed yesterday including for Hewett and Herstall Ulrich who retire by rotation in line with company policy and have advised they will stand for re-election.

The incumbents will vie for the seats with Fiona Hancox, a West Otago sheep and beef farmer who has the backing of the Meat Industry Excellence group seeking reform in the meat industry and targeting director seats on the SFF and Alliance Group boards to hasten change. . .

It’s a country hoedown to draw crowds -

Wairarapa’s own “hoedown” is attracting greater numbers of crooners, yodellers, line dancers, and wannabe Willie Nelsons and Dolly Partons, says its organiser.

The third annual Clareville Country Music Festival kicks off Friday afternoon at Clareville Showgrounds, with organiser Ray Beale expecting “a few thousand” country fans – and a couple of hundred caravans.

Mr Beale, Wairarapa A&P Society complex manager, said numbers of festival goers had jumped significantly since its debut in 2013, jumping from about “1500 to 2000″ to near 4000 at last year’s event. . .

 Team penning champs in it for fun – Shan Goodwin:

THEY have plenty of wins, but for these Clarence Valley team penning champs the sport is as much about fun as it is about ribbons and prize money.

And that is precisely why their parents, and fellow club members at Clarence Valley Team Penning, believe the sport is so valuable – it encourages the development of some very important life skills.

“We joke that the boys don’t like getting beaten but team penning gives our kids, and everybody involved, so much more than just a chance to try to win something,” said Karen Morgan, vice president of the Clarence club, and mum to Tom.

“It’s such a healthy thing for families to be involved in.” . . .


Shifting summer shut-down

January 6, 2015

Would it be better to shift the summer shut-down to February?

A poll of 500 people by Research New Zealand showed nearly half were in favour of a shift because the weather was better in February – when most people returned to work.

Statutory holidays are, as the name implies, set by statute and school holidays are prescribed by the Ministry of Education.

But there is no legal requirement for any business to shut-down over the Christmas-New Year period.

Some businesses do find it easier to stop altogether. Factories for example use the shut-down to do maintenance that can’t be done while manufacturing is in progress. Some which stop for the statutory breaks prefer to stay shut than stop, start then stop and start again a few days later.

Others close so that all staff take at least part of their four-weeks annual leave at one time, lessening the inconvenience and pressure of having staff off for too long during the rest of the year.

However, some continue to operate and pay staff the extra and give them the days in lieu required later.

Many don’t  shut because they provide essential services, cater for holiday-makers or are dictated to by the season and staff stagger their holidays throughout the year to allow the operation to continue.

Research New Zealand director Emanuel Kalafatelis said city dwellers were most in favour, while those in rural areas were against the idea.

“The nature of the business activity in those [rural] areas as opposed to main urban centres, the average farmer can’t stop whatever their doing at the moment and shift their activities.”

Summer is the busiest time for most rural businesses and most can’t shut down, whether it’s over the traditional shut-down period or later.

Stock has to be monitored, cows have to be milked, fruit and vegetables have to be picked, hay, silage and balage have to be made, crops have to be harvested . . .  and businesses which process the produce and service and supply other businesses  doing all this have to keep operating.

Whenever the shut-down occurs it would be very frustrating if you are a business which can’t, or doesn’t, stop and you find you need goods and services which aren’t available because the business supplying them does.


Rural round-up

December 14, 2014

Sweet success for bee team:

A group of Whangarei high school students has won the top award in the Enterprising Primary Industries Career challenge on how to attract young people into working with bees.

The competition requires students to identify different careers within the primary industry sector and market them to their peers.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy presented the Year 10 students from Huanui College the award for their entry ‘Bee in the Scene’. . .

Designer genes on show:

Designer genes will be the focus of a field day in Central Otago today for fine wool growers on the hunt to find the perfect fit.

The event is organised by the New Zealand Merino Company.

Production science manager Mark Ferguson said as well as animal health and forage being discussed, 40 groups of sheep would be on show in Cromwell to highlight genetic differences. . .

Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan - Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders Council is “broadly supportive” of plans for the cooperative to start sourcing milk from South Island suppliers who are not also shareholders, with a couple of caveats.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, yesterday announced a new milk sourcing subsidiary, mymilk, which would try to get milk in the Canterbury, Otago, and Southland regions where competition for milk supply is most intense from new suppliers on contracts on up to five years without the obligation to purchase shares. The feedback, particularly from new farmers who have recently spent a large amount of money converting farms to dairy, is that they can’t currently afford to now buy shares in the cooperative but would do so at a later date. . .

 

Who owns the rain? - Gravedodger:

Well apparently in Oregon State of the US, not the land owner whose land it falls on.

Gary Harrington 64, owns 170 acres and has constructed three ponds that accumulate and store around three million liters of snow melt and rain runoff. One of the ponds has been stocked with large mouth bass and the whole resource is available for fire fighting.
My understanding is Harrington did not dam waterways in his water conservation scheme.
Poor old Gary is or has recently spent 30 days in the clink for continuing his storage of water falling on his acreage.
Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan
What  in Oregon State has done, is common across NZ farmland where stock water is a restraint on production. There are countless Dams across NZ pastoral lands and the most efficient and longer lasting are built to collect rainfall from very small catchments and not from damming waterways. . .

CRV Ambreed opens new bovine semen production and distribution facility:

Primary Industries Minister Hon. Nathan Guy officially opened CRV Ambreed’s new world-class domestic and export-approved bovine semen production and logistics centre today.

The CRV Bellevue Production and Logistics Centre, based on the outskirts of Hamilton, is a purpose-built facility which future-proofs the company with additional capacity to meet the market’s growing demand for its bovine semen products.

The Centre houses a semen collection facility, a semen processing laboratory, storage space for export and domestic products, a warehouse with farmer AI banks, and 38 hectares of grazing paddocks. . .

 

Leading farm automation businesses to merge:

LIC is merging its farm automation and milking sensor businesses to deliver more integrated technology and meet demand from farmers.

The co-op’s Protrack business will transfer into subsidiary Dairy Automation Limited (DAL) in 2015.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said the move follows the co-op’s acquisition of DAL in February, and a lot of discussion between both businesses on how they would work together as one.

“Since the acquisition of DAL we have witnessed a number of key market developments that we will be better placed to leverage as one entity. . . .


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,565 other followers

%d bloggers like this: