Alasdair Thompson's job on the line
Fri, 24 Jun 2011 6:10p.m.
By Rachel Morton
The man who enraged women the length of the country with his menstruation comments has apologised again – but it may not be enough to save his job.
The board of the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association will meet on Monday to discuss the future of its CEO, Alasdair Thompson.
When he went on radio and linked menstruation with workplace productivity, he unleashed a barrage of criticism – all of it aimed at him. His appearances on 3 News and Campbell Live last night did nothing to calm feelings.
3 News rang around board members of the EMA today and most declined to comment or couldn't be reached, but one member says he was out of line and wants an explanation.
Mr Thompson was keeping his head down today, but his comments are still reverberating.
"Women take more sick leave in general, I know it's an awful thing to say but it's true," was one of the things he said yesterday.
Auckland City Councillor Cameron Brewer says Mr Thompson was wrong, but doesn't deserve the sack.
"It was ill-advised and I'm pleased that he has unreservedly apologised but what he also needs to do is retract all of his statements," says Mr Brewer.
This afternoon Mr Thompson released a statement, saying: "I apologise for my poor choice of words and bad judgment... The EMA unquestionably believes in equal pay and both the EMA and I believe gender plays no part in the productivity of a person, and that there is no justification for gender to influence what someone is paid.
"Although this experience has been very painful to me, it has also served as a valuable lesson – one I shall never forget."
Business lecturer Rachel Morrison says the apology is too little, too late and it's comments like his which make it even harder for women to re-enter the workforce after having children.
"I think these sorts of comments speak to that situation where women are almost forced to leave organisations," she says.
Laurie Margrain was the only EMA board member who answered questions today. He says he'll be confronting Mr Thompson on Monday.
"I would be surprised if the consensus was in anyway supportive of that," he says. "I can't speak for the EMA membership and I can't speak for the board, I haven't spoken to them, but I'd be very, very surprised indeed if EMA supported that approach."
Now other groups who represent employers are distancing themselves from Mr Thompson.
"EMA Northern are a separate organisation to us and they form their own views," says Ken Harris, Employers Chamber of Commerce, "and our views are quite straightforward we think that paying fairly and working with employees in a respectful fashion is the key to a successful business."
But do women really take more sick leave than men? 3 News looked at a number of surveys which have been done internationally, and the results were quite inconsistent.
This afternoon the State Services Commission released statistics that show on average, men in New Zealand take 6.8 sick days a year, while women take 8.4.
But there is no evidence to suggest menstruation is the cause.
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26/06/2011 12:46:12 p.m.
I've always been puzzled to why women get paid less in the workplace, I thought; oh! it's discrimination. But now, it's for this reason: Women (majority of them) are a risk at work, in terms of 'loss of time' due to - pregnancy, menstruation & bringing relationship problems to the workplace which affects everybody. Alisdair knows what he was talking about, he dared to say the truth, good on you Alisdair!
26/06/2011 10:55:19 a.m.
Thompson has spoken openly of his thoughts from an employers point of view.Any truthful employer will tell that they have had similar thoughts and experiances. There is a strain of truth in what he says, but it does not apply to all women, especially those of more mature years. He was unwise to stick his head above the trench wall,but to loose his job for the transgression---certainly NOT. Stop your screaming and thrashing about,settle down, and give it some calm thought--be more adult about the whole matter.
26/06/2011 10:50:23 a.m.
A frugal Google turned this up, “Menstrual leave would boost productivity: UNION” from the Sydney Morning Herald 2005. The female members of the Australian Manufacturing Union asked for menstrual leave to be written into their agreement because some of the women could not cope with production line work during their monthly! So here it is some actual proof that menstruation does affect female productivity if you are Australian at least. The New Zealand Herald posted a couple of figures today which showed that women do have more time off than men. It was reported in such a way that the reader was encouraged to believe it was an insignificant difference. However a little sum showed that women have 20% more time off than men on average and of course that’s heaps, to the apparent consternation of the Herald. The Alasdair affair has been disappointing for a number of reasons, firstly the lack of investigation to determine the veracity or otherwise of Alasdair’s claims and then almost covering it up when it turns out he is right e.g. why am I coming up with irrefutable evidence in Alasdair’s favour and not the media, a tacit cover up if you will. Secondly the response of women; I must admit to being naive, I actually thought cool heads, common sense and facts would rule the day. But no, it was man hate, festering under the surface it has burst forth like a raging Pit bull and torn poor Mr Thompson to pieces, shame on you!
25/06/2011 10:25:45 p.m.
jeremy bruce wrote:
I can't see how Alasdair Thompson is being defended by people. He is a Lawyer. He is a lawyer with considerable experience. He is a successful man. He has been seen to be a pillar in the community. He has been voted into a very high position. He has been voted into a very high position that represents New Zealand employers. Alasdair Thompson has without provocation taken a polarizing position that any adult in any professional environment would think twice about. Yet this same man, on camera, in full view of all New Zealanders, has been made to look like a complete muppet. By a woman. Justice.
25/06/2011 5:31:49 p.m.
cameron brewer should also tender his resignation since he supports this thin-lipped retarded misogynist.
25/06/2011 9:59:16 a.m.
You people are so sad and RACIST for not posting my comment last night. So what's the point of this forum?? My post was not even abusive or as blatant and insulting as some of the crap that ended up on this forum. Does an island name, in my email name insult you? GEN Y AREN'T YA!!!! UP YOURS!!!!
25/06/2011 9:48:50 a.m.
Laureen Goodridge wrote:
Amazing comments by Mr. Thompson - showing a complete lack of political sense, an unfortunate perspective (male entitlement) and a neanderthal sense of the working world (with apologies to the neanderthals). I agree with others that Mr. Thompson should be looking for other employment - his comments reflect very badly upon his organization.
25/06/2011 8:45:58 a.m.
What the. His guy would have spent or wasted more periods of time thinking those 'thoughts of women sex etc'. That science or studies reackon flick through mens heads every three minutes or whatever it was.
25/06/2011 8:13:03 a.m.
I believe the man passed stupid remarks, based on his own bias. However he apologised and that's fair. But man, when I watched the interview on Campbell Live, I think that man has problems.Big mistake to show his absolute arrogance and bully boy tactics on national tv.Is that how he lives his life? He needs to take some mental health days.....I think that's what men do?
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