Alasdair Thompson: 'Sorry, but it's true'
Thu, 23 Jun 2011 6:22p.m.
By Rachel Morton
The head of the Employers and Manufacturers Association has begun receiving hate mail after comments he made about women on the radio this morning.
Alasdair Thompson said women take more sick leave than men, citing one reason as their "monthly sick problem".
This afternoon he told 3 News he's sorry he upset anyone but that what he said was true.
Mr Thomspon went on radio this morning to debate gender inequality - it was largely uncontroversial until he tried to explain why women are paid, on average, 12 percent less than men.
"Look at who takes the most sick leave," said Mr Thompson. "Because you know, once a month they have sick problem. Not all women, but some do. They have children and they have to take leave off."
Mr Thompson says he didn't mean to upset anyone, that he's a supporter of equal pay for men and women and he's sorry.
"The first thing I want to do is apologise to any person, man or woman, because some men have taken offence too," he says.
"I am sorry that I have given offence."
He might be sorry, but he meant what he said.
"Women take more sick leave in general," he says. "I know it's an awful thing to say, but it's true."
3 News asks him again if this was true.
"Don't interrupt me, otherwise I will stop the interview," he replies.
The "monthly sickness" comments have caused outrage. Mr Thompson has received hate emails and the woman he was debating on air says he should resign.
"It's this sort of attitude that contributes to the pay gap," says Helen Kelly of the Council of Trade Unions, "and won't change with the people like Alasdair at the head of these organisations."
One of country's top lawyers says he was out of line.
"I like Alasdair Thompson," says Mai Chen. "I've known him a long time but he's got the facts wrong. I am a female employer, I have a child. Half of my staff here are women and a lot of them have children, and we are New Zealand's top public law firm."
Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson says if Mr Thomspon worked for her, he'd be in for a telling off.
"I'm not responsible for his comments but I think he had a brain explosion," she says. "It's ridiculous, it's ludicrous."
"He sounded a bit like a dinosaur to me," says MP Paula Bennett.
"I think his comments are outrageous," says Greens leader Russel Norman. "He basically said women should be paid less because they menstruate, let's not gloss."
Statistics New Zealand doesn't have information about which gender takes the most sick leave, but Mr Thompson says he knows its women from his own experience and from the employers he represents – but he can't prove it.
"I can't because I haven't got the information on me.
3 News asks if he had any rough figures to back up his claims.
"I don't do roughly," says Mr Thompson.
He says he wasn't talking about all women or even a large proportion, because many control their "monthly sickness" with Panadol.
3 News asked if he truly believed the menstrual cycle was really big enough a problem it would impact on women's productivity.
After a loing pause, he said "cut" and the interview was over.
He might have given an apology, but Mr Thompson is adamant he's right.
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30/12/2011 8:22:50 a.m.
Yes, I admit that some women may be ill once a month due to issues of a biological nature. It doesn't generally impact productivity because we are still responsible for completing our work on schedule. But the comment that I found most interesting is that women have children. So, does that mean that men don't have children? If that's the case, then women should definitely earn more.
20/10/2011 8:19:09 a.m.
c foote wrote:
i think women moan just for the hell of it..comments manipulated by women because they dont like the truth..Mai Chen hires female lawyers with kids..And??Russel Norman says "He basically said women should be paid less because they menstruate, let's not gloss."..he never said that either..he said they theytake more time off due to their monthly...people need to be a little more accurate and a little less dramatic
21/09/2011 12:07:24 p.m.
Hmm. I take time off work sometimes for a 'monthly sickness' but I don't think I am overall less productive. There are some that say that men spend much of the day thinking about, er - things other than work! Wonder how much that affects THEIR productivity.
8/07/2011 1:53:28 a.m.
he told the truth from one aspect, nothing wrong! we should allow people to say what they think truely,, better than political shitty stuff
7/07/2011 9:55:37 p.m.
Well, would it be possible that this guy was just plain honest? I.e. his stupidity was in telling the truth. His upper management noticed he said the truth (and not a cover-up story) and fired him.
Instead of just pointing finger to "stupid quotes" and certain persons, I'd recommend a system and laws to find out the reasons for that "12% less pay".
7/07/2011 12:15:49 p.m.
He is an embarrasment. He has absolutely no right, whatsoever, to be arguing about this. he is just a attention seeker.
7/07/2011 10:36:32 a.m.
I haven't noticed any difference at my workplace!!!...it could be a research topic!
However, even if the women taking more sick leave, can the workforce run without heir sincerity??!!
6/07/2011 10:06:39 p.m.
I think the world sucks when you get punished for telling the truth. Why is it so difficult to see that women take more sick days, look it up in almost any large companies stats. It is the same as saying that women can't lift or move as much as a man. It is just a fact of life. Sports are seperated by sex just for this reason. The world needs to face facts and stop being a bunch of hyper-sensative cry babies. Of course this is a general statement about the majority and sure there are always exceptions but the majority falls true. This guy is getting punished because he told the truth but wasn't politically correct. This is just another example of what is wrong with the world.
3/07/2011 5:18:12 a.m.
Another man going to pay for telling the truth, whats gone wrong with todays society.I work in an environment with a large female work force and they never seem to be at work, always off work problem after problem. Many company owners must be agreeing with you. Well done Mr Thompson for speaking up but I'm afraid you're going to pay for it. What a political correct world we live in.
29/06/2011 2:21:18 p.m.
Bronwyn Weir wrote:
Well one thing that this man forgot about......he may think that females take advatage, but he is not seeing the whole picture....women should be paid, at least we can bleed for a week without dying....let's see if Mr Alasdair Thompson can do that.
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