At least one redundant Hillside worker has been denied a
Christmas hamper of community-donated goods, organised by
Labour Party Dunedin South MP Clare Curran.
Hillside plant and process improvement leader David Fenwick
said he was told by Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU)
Hillside branch delegates he would not receive a community
hamper because he was a National supporter and a ''scabber''.
In total, 111 hampers were compiled by Ms Curran and RMTU
Hillside branch delegates then distributed them to redundant
Hillside workers last week.
More than $3000 worth of food, alcohol, toys, clothes and
vouchers was given to the Hillside hamper appeal by Dunedin
businesses and individuals.
Mr Fenwick was part of the 20-strong ''sunset crew'' tasked
with closing down all but Hillside's heavy lift and foundry,
and would be made redundant in late February or early March.
He said he was asked, with other workers, to gather in the
Hillside car park for hampers to be given out but did not
''I asked if there was a hamper for me and was told no,
because I was a National supporter and a scabber. The union
people simply don't want me to have a hamper because I voted
National and always have.
''They seem to regard me as a scab, but there's no truth in
that. I've never crossed any picket line to go to work. It's
quite malicious. Being a National supporter is my right.''
Mr Fenwick said he knew of another non-union worker who also
did not receive a hamper.
He said hampers were given to others in the sunset crew as
well as those who had retained employment under KiwiRail
Ms Curran said she did not know Mr Fenwick had not received a
hamper. Although she organised the hamper appeal, she
''trusted'' union delegates to compose a list of recipients
and distribute hampers accordingly.
She ''understood'' some workers would not get hampers but
said she did not ask why, and did not know whether hampers
were only given to union members. She said she would not be
taking any action. RMTU Hillside branch chairman Stuart
Johnstone deferred comment to secretary Les Ingram, who said
he was not aware of the issue.
Mr Ingram said he was disappointed Mr Fenwick had contacted
the Otago Daily Times instead of raising the matter with him.
He did not see the list of recipients but said ''many''
people who were not in the union got hampers and it was
''probably an oversight''.
''It's been a very stressful month and possibly some mistakes
have been made which is regrettable,'' he said.
National list MP Michael Woodhouse said he was told about the
incident by a ''mutual friend'' late on Friday and organised
for some goods to be donated to Mr Fenwick.
Mr Woodhouse said he hoped the absence of the hamper was an
''oversight'' and not intentional or politically motivated.
''My concern is that what was a very generous gesture,
facilitated by the union on the part of businesses in
Dunedin, risks being tainted because of the failure for
everybody to get one.''