Wednesday, 8 August 2007

TVNZ sack security guard for confronting bigot

There's no justice in the world. Time was, if you stood up to the big man and told the truth to power you got the Pulitzer Prize or some such. Nowadays, you get booted out of a job you've held for 24 years. This man deserves some sort of award for telling Christine "we have got a problem with Maori" (1) Rankin she's out of line, rather than getting sacked:
The Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union says it is shocked by claims a
TVNZ security guard was sacked for criticising the comments of Christine Rankin.

Louis Rawnsley has worked as a security guard for the state broadcaster for 24 years. He says he was dismissed after telling Ms Rankin her comments on Breakfast about Maori and child abuse were "over the top". (2)

Unsurprisingly, this was the lead story on TV3's late news. Can't imagine it got *much* coverage on the other side ...

TVNZ have claimed Rawnsley

used a raised voice and the exchange was not polite and private as claimed ... he was representing the company and was charged with greeting guests and making them feel safe ... it is unacceptable for someone in that position to berate a guest and Mr Rawnsley should not have expressed his opinion. (3)

None-the-less, how the Hell do justify sacking someone over an offense like this. The EPMU National Secretary stated

There are two problems with TVNZ’s actions. Firstly, people like Christine Rankin can’t expect to express controversial views without alternative views also being expressed. Secondly, TVNZ has to understand that its employees are citizens, too, and must be allowed to express views, especially in important national debates like this. (4)

Which is all true but missed the essential point - it isn't to do with freedom of speech or having the right to reply. It is to do with the rights of a working man being trashed by his employer. At most, Rawnsley's actions would have deserved a reprimand. Whatever censure he might have deserved (though I still say he performed a service to the people of New Zealand), there are proceedures that should be followed. To dismiss someone out of hand, for objecting to a whole segement of society being written off as a 'problem,' is disgusting.

1 - Direct quotation from the lovely Christine, in "Urgent calls for abuse inquiry," unattributed One News / NewstalkZB article reproduced by TVNZ, 30th of July, 2007. She repeated the exact phrase in the interview that sparked the debate / confrontation with Rawnsley -
2 - "Union investigating TVNZ guard sacking," unattributed article from NewstalkZB, 8th of August, 2007. (
3 - "TVNZ defends decision to sack guard over remarks to guest," unattributed Radio New Zealand article, 8th of August, 2007. (
4 - "TVNZ sacking over Rankin comments 'shocking': EPMU ," unattributed press release by the EMPU, reproduced on Scoop, 8th of August, 2007. (

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