Personal grievances at TVNZ double

NEIL REID
Last updated 05:00 06/04/2014

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TVNZ spent almost quarter of a million dollars to settle a doubling in personal grievance cases in the past financial year.

The payments cover employment action taken by 10 staff and total $246,000 - up $182,150 on 2012, during which there were four settled personal grievances.

In 2011, TVNZ paid out $82,000 following four grievances, and in 2010 the figure was $86,250 following five complaints against the network.

Green Party broadcasting spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter, who provided the Sunday Star-Times with the information, said she was concerned about how the payments had "blown out".

"The number of personal grievances has doubled [in the past year]," Genter said.

"And the value [of the payments] quadrupled on 2012, even though the number of personal grievances only doubled.

"Taking industrial action against an employer like TVNZ is probably one of the most stressful things that can happen to a worker. It takes a lot of time and effort and to find out that personal grievances have blown out in the last year is a concern."

The soaring number and cost of personal grievances at TVNZ had her questioning what was happening at the broadcaster.

"It leads us to ask some questions about TVNZ HR processes," she said. "As a Crown-owned company, they need to be setting an example and being a good employer. There is some concern that perhaps they are not quite living up to that."

Genter said she was concerned that TVNZ's current review of its Maori and Pacific programming department could result in further valid grievances.

The review is being done after a Labour Party fundraiser involving unit members was held on TVNZ premises. The unit's former general manager, Shane Taurima, was also heavily involved with the Labour Party.

"There is a risk and we will keep our eye on it," Genter said. "I suppose it depends on the way the review is conducted."

A statement from TVNZ stressed that no taxpayer funds contributed to its salaries and settlements to former staff.

Those payments were covered by the network's commercial activities.

It would not comment on settlements made in the 2013 financial year as "it's our policy not to comment publicly on employment matters, so TVNZ won't go into any more detail that might identify anyone involved."

Asked about potential grievance cases pending from the review of the network's Maori and Pacific programming department, the statement said: "While that's [the review's] under way we won't be making any comment on employment issues connected to that process.

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"That said, we will release our findings publicly when the review is complete in a matter of weeks."

- Sunday Star Times

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