Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who is the worst employer? kiwi publishers or government?

I'm considering taking legal action against one of my employers.
The publishing company concerned has appointed a new editor who has decided not to run a major feature commissioned by her predecessor because she felt it was not up to scratch.
Now, neither of the two editors before her ever had issues over the quality of my work and an email I have since received from her which talks about her taking the publication in a 'new direction' suggests other motives.
I have no issue with this. I am more concerned about being recompensed fairly for services rendered and expenses incurred in delivering them. The company fulfilling its end of the bargain, even if there was no formal contract, it was all done by email and talking over the phone. We operated on trust.
I was never given a chance to rewrite the piece, written to the specifications outlined by the former editor, which the new editor said she could not edit/rewrite effectively in time.
But as a former newspaper editor myself, I believe if you cannot knock copy into shape, no matter how rough, you should not be an editor.
The new editor also commented that she was not bound by agreements made by the predecessor, though I'm sure when I signed an agreement allowing the company to on-sell my work, it was an agreement affecting my work for the whole company, not just the individual editor.
Now, this has happened before. Some years ago, one new editor at the same company decided to stop using me, citing quality over one article. Now this particular editor's magazine is a co-production with an Australian company, having both a New Zealand editor and an Australian editor.
Guess what? I now write for several titles produced by that Australian company, including the very same magazine I was earlier kicked out of by its New Zealand editor.
For several years, I have written for its Australian editor, writing about the Australian market, though I am now based just north of Auckland. And no comments concerning 'quality' there.
This case is just the latest of several shoddy dealings I have personally experienced in the New Zealand media market, which I feel explains some/much of the leftiness from the country's journalists. And for me, it makes me more moderate on employment matters than other issues.
Many kiwi publishers are bad employers, though the Australian-owned multinational I perform the bulk of my work for, conducts itself with the utmost integrity.
Which bring me on to the "Attack on Erin Leigh".
David Farrar over at Kiwiblog highlights how the whistleblower over the Clare Curran/ Medallaine Setchell controversy has been branded 'incompetent' in parliament, though it is arguable whether we should believe Trevor Mallard.
Now, there is much we can say about the ethical nature of Lairbour in this and other matters where it has pilloried staff when it should take the blame for its own wrong doing. The Air NZ flights to Iraq fiasco was but another, as well as Mark Prebble and the other guy in Setchellgate.
While Liarbour has shown it to be truly lacking in ethics, how much stems from a kiwi desire to cover ones back, to pass the buck and smear others if possible?
I have worked in several countries- the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Kiwis seem to be leaders at backstabbing, sticking the knife in when they wish, suggesting Employment laws are necessary to some extent, when all most staff simply want is fair play and contracts honoured, however they might be defined.
Liarbour's shoddy treatment of government employees, who do not act as they would like, just emphasises the kind of backstabbing that seems commonplace in the New Zealand workplace.
Not only that, it hypocritically shows the Liarbour government to be the kind of bad employer they supposedly despise. I wonder what their union paymasters think of this?


KG said...

Matches my experiences, almost exactly.

Barnsley Bill said...

This is more likely a case of interference. You have chosen a user name that is risky and everybody knows your name mate. I would lawyer up if I were you. Good luck.


Thanks everyone.
I don't think the matter is political. More likely we have someone who just wants to get their own people on board. Clear out the old team.
The incident only concerns a two-bit trade mag, nothing remotely political or current.
Indeed, the large employer might be the one who might have grounds for interference if it were vindictive.
But like I say , that organisation has conducted itself with utmost integrity.
I think some of its staffers do know who I am. But as they're friends, it doesn't matter.
But I think the small claims court is in order for the trade mag. I was contracted to about $2000 of work.
Not a huge amount, but a point has to be made.
Other journos like me have been in similar situations. They too advise the courts.


I think the matter comes down to one of professionalism too.
The Australian-owned multi-national, which owns more than half of New Zealand's newspapers and magazines, including two of our Sundays, conducts itself properly.
The locally-owned operation, which does not own any newspapers, just a raft of trade titles, is the one where the problem is.
And to think last week Matt McCarten was bemoaning the overseas ownership of our media when I have often found it is the overseas owned media companies that treat their Kiwi workers better.

flashgordonnz said...

"backstabbing that seems commonplace in the New Zealand workplace"

Crikey! You've obviously not worked for a UK local body then.

Anonymous said...

Darren, you are a very, very nasty man, and I suspect that everyone you meets finds this. I suspect you brought it upon yourself. May you suffer the way you wish so many others to suffer.


Thanks anonymous.
You are so right.
Now, where can I find some kittens to drown this fine Sunday afternoon.
Once I've finished strangling those puppies first.

Psycho Milt said...

How come no-one ever writes in to call me a very, very nasty man? What's FFM got that I haven't? Eh? Bastards.

Anonymous said...

Well, Psycho, you don't pretend to be an impartial journalist in your day job, for starters.


The kind of journalism i cover is usually outside politics, so 'impartiality' is never an issue.
But once I wrote a feature on trades unions, for which I received much praise from my left-of-centre editor and the far-left graphic designer.
I never claim to be impartial while writing on this blog but when it comes to writing for a living, I give both sides a fair go.