Bailey, Unite and Labour

I don’t have a problem with the ponytail waitress Amanda Bailey telling her story. John Key had acted poorly over a period of time, and Bailey’s annoyance and frustration seems to have been ignored. Normally a waitress in this situation would have few options for redress, but Key put himself in a vulnerable position and Bailey used that to make a valid point.

So I think it’s fine for her to have spoken up.

But the way the story has been played out raises some questions.

Bailey chose to put her story out via Martyn Bradbury and The Daily Blog. That guaranteed that her story would be seen by some as political and highly partisan. A more neutral medium would have avoided much of the political accusations, but Bailey went hard left.

Now Bailey is working through her options with the Unite Union. Was she a member of Unite? Or have the decided to represent her as a non-member?

Radio New Zealand interviewed the Unite Union organiser who is representing Bailey:

The Unite Union has announced it will represent Amanda Bailey and support whatever action she decides to take. Union organiser Shanna Reeder is with us.

What does Amanda Bailey want to do?

Reeder : Ah well that’s a really good question. Um everybody’s been asking that question today. Um unfortunately we’re unable to give you a clear answer on that because we haven’t decided at this stage.

You haven’t decided or she hasn’t?

Reeder : Um well obviously we’re advising Amanda on what the best course of action will be, and Amanda hasn’t decided at this stage.

What are you advising her to do?

Reeder : Um well there’s actually I means there’s there’s a whole bunch of different um options that she could take. A lot of experts have been out in the media um recommending you know what she could do at this point, um so basically we’re just trying to help her through all of those options, um and help her find…

Are you pushing for a particular result yourself here?

Reeder : No no it’s completely up to Amanda.

What has she told you about ah issues we’ve just heard about what Graeme McCready just said about her feeling humiliated, ah being um comments being made to her by other customers, what’s she talking about the reaction she’s received from the public here?

Reeder : Ah she hasn’t commented on that to me so I’m unable to comment on that to you.

And you are not saying, are you saying to her she should support for example the action taken by Graeme McCready?

Reeder : That’s not something that we have discussed, I’m just unable to comment on it I’m sorry.

When do you think she’ll know what her course of action should be?

Reeder : Um I think she’s getting there, I think probably by the end of the week she’ll have a bit of an outline of what she wants to do.

Shanna Olsen-Reeder is listed as Unite’s ‘Hotels and Call Centres’ organiser in Auckland. While they have several fast food restaurant’ organisers they don’t have any designated as cafe or general restaurant organisers.

NZ Herald reported on progress on Saturday:

On Wednesday Mr McCready filed paperwork at the Auckland District Court on a proposed assault charge against Mr Key.

Mr McCready alleges a Crimes Act charge of male assaults female, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

To reach a trial Mr McCready would have to present sufficient evidence of the proposed charge and has asked for an oral evidence hearing with 11 witnesses, including Bronagh Key, to do so.

Bailey has wisely chosen to avoid dealing with McCready.

Today, he said Ms Bailey, through the Unite Union, had refused to speak with him and did not want anything to do with his private prosecution.

However, Ms Bailey was considering her own legal action and would be represented by the Unite Union if she choose to proceed.

The union did not say who any complaint or legal action would target.

Being a union I would presume Unite would be looking at employment matters with Bailey. But maybe not. This comment at The Standard describes Unite as political activists, not just worker representatives.

Unite union has been well represented at virtually every protest from TPPA, selling State assets, Oil drilling protests, opposing charter schools, defending Glen Innes State housing, etc., supporting Gaza/Palestine. In fact Unite’s Joe Carolan often speaks to the crowd at these protest rallies and is commonly on a megaphone during the marches. The Unite people have been very visible on social justice issues on all issues of social justice.

Carolan and Mike Treen (Unite’s National Director Day to Day Operations) are well known socialist activists.

Does “all issues of social justice” mean they could get involved in legal matters outside the employment arena that could potentially take down the current Government?

If they do this would ensure it remains a highly charged political issue. The Unite Union have had close links with the MANA Party/Movement.

And also with Andrew Little and the Labour Party. Matt McCarten has been heavily involved with Unite, leading the union from 2005 to 2014, and since then he has been and still is heavily involved with Labour as Little’s chief of staff.

Little and Labour have wisely kept a distance from the Bailey versus Key issue. But if Unite help Bailey take legal action outside of employment matters then dots will no doubt be connected.

Bailey will no doubt think through her options carefully. She justifiably felt aggrieved by Key’s behaviour. She will have seen the political reaction after publicising her grievance through a left wing political activist. She has been burned by some  apparently appalling behaviour by Rachel Glucina and NZ Herald.

If Unite are advising her well they will have pointed out not just what courses of action that are open to her but also the potential political implications of any action. Unite have a reputation of not just being a union representing workers on employment matters.

Unite may be able to keep Bailey’s issues separate from partisan politics, but that won’t be easy given how it has already been discussed in social media.