SkyCity says workers might be inspired by the Bible, iPods or smoking - but they have to draw a line at work.
A staff member has been threatened with disciplinary action over carrying a bible in her pocket while at work - following two previous warnings over over similar matters.
Tuni Parata, a tower host at the casino, has been accused of breaching the casino's uniform policy after being caught carrying the pocket-sized Bible.
SkyCity staff are not permitted to carry personal items while at work and Parata faces a disciplinary hearing on Thursday where she has been warned she could be issued with a final written warning.
The Unite union has called the rule "absurd" and wants to see it overturned.
"We don't think that's a reasonable and therefore not a lawful instruction," Unite union national director Mike Treen said.
"This rule we think is too draconian and inevitably people break that rule because it's a stupid rule and then inevitably people get caught. We've had enough and we are saying that this is absurd and we will challenge it."
Parata, who has worked at the casino for 16 years, had been warned twice previously about carrying the bible. She was caught this time when a manager saw the bible which Parata left on a bench while she was on a bathroom break.
"She only kept it in her pocket, she never showed it in public, she's not reading from it in public areas, it's just for private consultation on her breaks," Treen said.
Treen said they had previously postponed Thursday's disciplinary hearing in order to try and reason with the company. However, they had now given up and gone public in the hope of "shaming and embarrassing them into backing down".
They had argued it would sully the reputation of the casino further, he said.
Parata had not been fired but was told the possible outcome of the meeting could be a final written warning, even though Parata has not had formal warnings before, Treen said.
"They're saying this is serious misconduct, they're saying we can dismiss you for this and we will dismiss you next time it happens."
Treen said he thought staff could apply for a dispensation to carry personal property but said SkyCity was not accommodating in regards to this. He did not know if Parata had applied for the dispensation but according to a formal letter from SkyCity to Parata, which was supplied to media, she had not.
In a letter from Sky Tower operations manager Jennifer Philpott to Parata, Philpott said she understood Parata drew inspiration from her bible but said they expected front of house staff to be completely focussed on their duties.
She said other staff members could gain inspiration in other ways such as from iPods or smoking and staff had to "draw a line somewhere".
Treen said this was a "dismissive" response to Parata's request.
SkyCity's general manager of group services, Grainne Troute, said different roles had different uniform standards "but as a general principle staff in customer service roles are in breach of SkyCity's uniform standards if they carry items such as mobile phones, books and other items which might interfere with their full engagement with their customers".
Troute called Treen's comments "alarmist" and said they did not fairly reflect the situation.
"A breach of uniform policies such as this was not considered "serious misconduct" and would not be expected to result in the dismissal of any staff member."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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