Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blokes being blokes on the construction site


'Dry humping' and 'genital flicking' in the construction industry
A recent construction industry case demonstrates that this argument only goes so far. The employee who brought the claim worked for the company between 2005 and 2008 (the Employment Relations Authority made an order preventing publication of the names of those involved). The employee complained about a series of incidents involving workplace antics such as "dry humping" and "genital flicking". He said in one 2007 incident, the company's managing director approached him from behind while he was bending over and "rubbed his genital area" against his backside - a term the Authority described as "dry humping". The employee said he was shocked and immediately took evasive action. At a Christmas function the same year, the employee said he was the subject of another unpleasant experience, which the Employment Relations Authority referred to as "genital flicking". "This was a process where, when a group of workmates were standing together, typically in a social environment, one or other of them would flick at or near the genitals of a colleague nearby, allegedly with purpose of making the recipient spill his drink." The managing director acknowledged the genital flicking had taken place, and after the employee had protested twice, he desisted, and told staff "not to flick [the employee's] balls because he doesn't like it". The employee's solicitor wrote to the company warning of the behaviour but the company replied by suggesting it was endemic within the industry. After the genital flicking incident, the employee was left out of a Christmas fishing trip because "the company could not guarantee his physical safety". He also alleged the managing director had made offensive remarks about what the MD would like to do to his daughter. The Company's witnesses gave evidence that all women related to company personnel were "fair game", in terms of this sort of teasing, including the MD's wife. The employee left his job as a result of the stress he had suffered, and ended up a sickness beneficiary. Interestingly, the Authority said that the witnesses accepted many of these incidents probably happened, but that the behaviour is endemic in the industry and the employee in effect needed to "harden up". The Company referred in its defence to "rituals of Kiwi mateship", and said that "such rituals underpin the culture of the building and construction industry. It is not intended as sexual and is not viewed by those in the industry as sexual." The Authority said this view was misconceived, and it was difficult to see how it could be anything other than sexual. The Authority had no hesitation in concluding that the employee had suffered an unjustified disadvantage.

Who would have thought that there was so much deeply repressed sexuality on the NZ construction work site? Don’t you love how the Company tried to claim that such activity was endemic in NZ and was just blokes being blokes – dry humping by your boss, flicking one’s genitals and being told what the boss would like to do to your Daughter – that’s all normal is it? Shouldn’t we publish the name of this company – how can they hide who they are if they think this behaviour is acceptable? Note the company doesn’t deny any of this has happened, they actually try and fucking defend it! I would love to see how many of these Management types went to private boys schools and have all been through the fagging process that Teachers turn a blind eye to because it’ll condition boys up to be men - psychologically damaged and bullying men. This company didn’t deny any of this behaviour and try to justify it, are they really saying that across the many, many, many construction sites of NZ this level of unacceptable behaviour is not only rampant but so entrenched that it has its own set of justifications? If that is true, if what they say is true, then the full weight of Public disgust should be vented and noted and the loss of business and scrutiny be allowed to roast them the way it has roasted Contact to pull back from their greedy and ugly pay rise. If this level of sexual bullying is as widespread as this Company claims it is, then shouldn’t this Company’s public crucifixion be a very clear signal to the rest of the Industry that this level of behaviour is simply not tolerated in the same way racism or homophobia or sexism is not tolerated – or have we given up on those progressions, is that too, how does Talkback put it, ‘Politically Correct’ – basic respect and treatment towards eachother is too ‘Politically Correct’ is it NZ? Is there some other level of behaviour that is acceptable to working class men that isn’t acceptable to the rest? Basic human respect for one another demands much better treatment than this disgraceful and debasing behaviour and demanding that basic human respect shouldn’t be decried as nanny state, and recognize that those accusations of politically correct are actually part of the problem.

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