Thompson sacked


The NBR reports that Alasdair Thompson has been sacked from the Employers and Manufacturers’ Association (Northern).

He could probably have survived the initial poor performance during the radio interview but an organisation like the EMA needs someone with better judgement and media skills than he displayed in the subsequent interview with TV3.

He might have shown better judgement had he jumped before he was pushed too.

Dealing with the substance of the issue of equal pay, though, the NBR has an earlier story on the forgotten gender pay gap which says some international studies show lesbians get paid more than heterosexual women.

Too much taking offence offends


Talking point from Trans Tasman:

Time was (and we’re old enough to remember it) if a journalist heard the word “problem,” they’d know they had a story. One of the biggest shifts in journalism in the last 20-odd years is the word problem has been replaced. Now, the word is “offended.”

We now have a generation of journalists who believe as soon as they have someone saying they are offended by something someone else said – or wrote on the Internet – they have a story.

People say and do things at which many people take offence often but too often  the substance of the issue being discussed is swamped by stories on people taking offence.

Alasdair Thompson’s comments on women’s sick problems and Damien O’Connor’s gaggle of gays and unionists are recent examples of this.

This is unhealthy, for a number of reasons.

In a free society with freedom of expression, you are going to hear things you don’t agree with. People are going to say things which might even upset you. But turning the “offence” into the issue encourages two things, neither of them very wholesome.

One is a certain degree of adolescent, emotive self-dramatisation. Much more damaging is it discourages people from expressing views which might run counter to the group-think.

In a small society like NZ’s there is already a tendency, in a tussle between honesty and excessive politeness, for excessive politeness to win.

By rights, the media should try, quite consciously, to lean against this tendency. Instead, it seems to be aiding and abetting it. Not a healthy development.

Emotion often makes better headlines than facts but it’s lazy journalism to concentrate on the offended rather than the issue.

Only some employees deserve a fair hearing?


Just as I was about to say I’d made a mistake with Friday’s post  using the calls for Alasdair Thompson’s resignation as an example of double-standards from the left  I read:

Labour list MP Carol Beaumont said it was clear Mr Thompson could not continue in his role, and the board should not need to deliberate so long about it.

“They are a large organisation representing companies that employ women workers and the attitude that Thompson displayed was unacceptable in 2011. I would have thought their decision was pretty clear-cut.”

The case does seem clear cut.

His initial mistake was not just what he said but how he said it without any evidence to back up his case.

But saying something stupid, being poorly prepared and expressing yourself badly is not a sackable offence.

However, Thompson then compounded the error in two interviews with TV3 which reflected very poorly on him and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern)  he represents. I wrote on Friday that this still wasn’t a sackable offence but I was wrong.

A 21st century organisation cannot afford to have a CEO with antediluvian views who illustrates poor judgement and communication skills. 

But even if the case is clear cut the board still had to give its employee a fair hearing.

Workers rights are one of the left’s raison d’êtres. They risk undermining them if they think they apply to only some employees.

Double standards on resignation calls


Alasdair Thompson dug a hole with his tongue when he said women are paid less than men because they have “sick problems” and he kept on digging.

But those from the left are demonstrating double standards in asking for his resignation.

If an employee was encouraged to resign for saying something stupid with no evidence of past problems the left would be up in arms.

Thompson’s initial comments were stupid. He compounded the original offence in subsequent interviews in which he appeared inarticulate and boorish.

That might be a disciplinary offence but demanding the resignation of a worker for one slip, albeit a very public and messy one which reflects poorly on the man and his organisation, is very dangerous grounds and in other circumstances the left would be the first to criticise anyone for doing so.

As Cactus Kate says:

Alasdair Thompson is a halfwit for even bringing up the topic. He’s worse because he attempted to defend his comments on television in a remarkable performance.

But it is not a sackable offence.  . .  Too often New Zealand has become a nation of “sack ’em” whingers. Every time a white male (and they always are that hit the news) opens their mouth and upsets someone New Zealanders want them sacked.

Why didn’t he do this yesterday?


Manufacturers and Employers Federation Northern CEO Alasdair Thompson should have apologised properly yesterday.

Instead he compounded the stupidity of his initials comments with two prolonged interviews here and here.

Now he’s finally said what he should have said yesterday:

The Chief Executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association, Alasdair Thompson has issued an unreserved and unqualified apology for his comments and behaviour in the media yesterday on the issues to do with equal pay.

“I apologise for my poor choice of words and bad judgment during the discussion about gender and productivity in the workplace,” Mr Thompson said.

He said what started out as a genuine concern for the problems women face in the workplace soon disintegrated into facile observations that did a disservice to what is a very serious matter.  

“I raised issues that were misplaced and irrelevant to the discussion,” Mr Thompson said.

“I realise my remarks offended many people.

“I have personally always supported equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity, respect and courtesy for both women and men in the workplace. 

“The EMA unquestionably believes in equal pay and both the EMA and I believe gender plays no part in the productivity of a person, and that there is no justification for gender to influence what someone is paid.

“Although this experience has been very painful to me, it has also served as a valuable lesson – one I shall never forget.”

A lot of other people won’t forget it either.

Should they do so, Lew at Kiwpolitico has some very good advice  for anyone else at risk of putting both feet in their mouth.

UPDATE: Brian Edwards thinks Thompson has a case for complaining to the BSA.

%d bloggers like this: