Brian Edwards Media

Holding the Workers to Ransom – A Different Perspective on the Hospital Workers’ Strike

Pic: Natalie Slade, NZ Herald

This morning’s Herald features a lengthy front-page story about the effect of a hospital workers’ strike on the parents of a 17-month old baby who was due to have surgery on Thursday.

Seventeen-month-old Rebecca Jones has cerebral palsy and was to have two surgical procedures this Thursday to ease constant pain and sickness, and help her take solid food.

Parents Cara Porter-Jones and Gary Jones had been preparing for the operation for months after being given the go-ahead in March, and have taken leave from work.

But Mrs Porter-Jones says that with just days to go, she received a phonecall saying her daughter’s surgery had been cancelled because of strikes at Auckland City Hospital.

“I broke down in tears. I was devastated,” she said.

“To put it nicely, I’m very, very, very angry. We’ve been preparing ourselves for this for weeks. Now that we were getting so close to it – naturally we’re very scared – and to be told that it’s been cancelled because people are fighting over money …”

Now the family are in limbo, as they wait for another date to be set.

I can entirely understand Mrs Porter-Jones’ anger. If surgery for a suffering child or grandchild of mine had been postponed in this manner, I would be looking for someone’s blood.

BUT…

This is also a very good story for a tabloid newspaper. What makes it good is that it can be cast in simple terms of good and evil: good loving parents and evil striking workers. And in the middle an ailing child.

The Herald’s headlines and subhead cast it in exactly those terms:

HEALTH SERVICE WALKOUTS HIT FAMILY

Strikers’ helpless victims

Hospital workers want more money… baby Rebecca wants surgery that will change her life.

This is the traditional way in which the media present industrial disputes involving workers in essential occupations: good versus evil; long suffering public versus selfish workers ‘holding the employer/country to ransom’.

The language of these stories reflects this conflict of ideologies. The fate of those affected by the strike is couched in highly emotive terms; the strikers’ arguments presented in the coldest, hardest language. Look at the headlines and subhead of the Herald’s story again:

 HEALTH SERVICE WALKOUTS HIT FAMILY

Strikers’ helpless victims

Hospital workers want more money… baby Rebecca wants surgery that will change her life. 

Editors understand this very well of course. At the bottom of the story about little Rebecca – to whom all our hearts must go out – the paper invites readers to TELL US YOUR STORY – Email newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz.  I’m not so naive as to think that it’s stories from the hospital workers they want to hear. This is almost certainly the start of a campaign against them.

What’s wrong with this sort of reporting is that it gives us little or no opportunity to judge the rights and wrongs of the radiographers’ and medical laboratory workers’ case. We learn almost nothing about that in the story. It probably isn’t necessary, because the intention of the Herald’s report is not to inform but to appeal to prejudice, the prejudice inherent in the concept of ‘holding the public/country  to ransom’.

But the fact of the matter is that people who work in essential occupations have great difficulty withdrawing their labour, however just their cause may be. Bus drivers, for example, are badly paid and their working conditions are poor. But if they strike for better pay or conditions, everyone hates them. They are ‘holding the travelling public to ransom.’

The fact is that, precisely because they work in an essential occupation, they themselves are held to ransom by the widespread disapproval of the public. The employer of people in any essential occupation is in fact in a stronger position than other employers. He has the gun of public odium to hold to his workers’ heads.

It is of course extremely unfortunate that patients are suffering and will continue to suffer as a result of strike action by hospital workers. Those patients and their families cannot be expected to stand back and take a dispassionate look at the reasons for the strike action. They are entitled to be upset and angry. But the media have an obligation to go beyond the simplistic allocation of blame and to provide their readers, listeners, viewers with an even-handed analysis of the workers’ claims which will allow them to make an informed judgement of the rights and wrongs of the workers’ case.

There are three parties in this case: the hospital workers, their direct employers (the DHBs) and their indirect employers (the government). Should the question not at least be asked: what blame, or proportion of blame, for the suffering of the patients can be directed to the employers?

One can only hope that the Herald will ask that question in the next few days.

 

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66 Comments:

  1. Point 1: There is not a single error of fact in the story

    Point 2: The Herald has run a number of stories in the last few days detailing the claims, perspectives, and positions of the hospital staff, and the statements of their spokespeople, as well as the DHBs. Therefore, the requirement of balance, and sufficient coverage has arguably been fulfilled.

    Point 3: To apportion “blame” is an editorial position, which arguably, by implication, the Herald has done with this particular story. The Herald is entitled, once it has reported the relevant facts accurately (see point 1 and 2) to take state its own opinion.

    Point 4: It is up to discerning readers to realise the reasons for industrial action are often complex, and because “action” is being taken, there is a propaganda battle for hearts and minds.

    • Kimbo, your points:

      I did not say there was an error of fact in the story.

      I’m aware the Herald has run previous stories. What I asked for was ‘an even handed analysis’ of the claims and counterclaims. I have not seen that.

      The Herald doesn’t ‘state its own opinion’ on this. I would have no objection to that since it would be overt. What this story does is invite anger against the striking hospital workers.

      That is precisely the job of responsible media – to cut through the propaganda. Isn’t that what I’m asking for?

  2. Thank you!
    I was a highly qualified operating room RN.
    I couldnt face the idea of letting patients suffer through strike action.
    I also couldnt afford to save for a house- an insane issue considering I was so qualified that spine surgeons would REQUEST me for difficult operations.
    I was raised not to complain, and so when what I was being paid was not equal to what I was doing, I didnt winge, or strike, or nag my bosses. I simply left.
    I am now a well paid clinical educator working for a medical device company.
    The amount of negative feedback I have had about “selling out” has really irritated me. Why shouldnt I get paid what I am worth? Why,just because I “care” for people shouldnt I be paid well to be exceptional at that?
    I would love to see the healthcare system run if everyone just did what I did.
    The people who are striking are the good guys who ARE sticking with the patients – trust me, we have other, better paid options with less stress.

  3. Yes I am aware you did not claim the Herald made any errors of fact. However, if there were none, then, in my opinion, the Herald has fulfilled its primary obligation. Anything else is arguably superfluous, or at least of diminishing importance.

    The Herald has quoted both DHB and union spokespeople in previous stories. Therefore, arguably, and in my opinion, it has been even-handed in its analysis of the claims and counterclaims.

    You are right that the Herald’s editorial stance is not explicitly stated. However, as your analysis has shown, it is most certainly implied. Perhaps we should be angry. Perhaps it should be with the government and the DHBs.

    Invariably, strike action is designed to provoke the consumers of a service to pressure the bosses to side with the workers! I’d suggest how one responds reflects more the prejudices and assumptions of the reader.

    Generally, from a historical perspective, they are sympathetic towards health workers, and unsympathetic to teachers (who currently have a 4% claim, and want exemption from the government’s proposed 90-day employment rule).

    Who gets the right to arbitrate between the interests of the hospital workers, and Cara Porter-Jones and Gary Jones? Why should the Herald, as a “responsible” paper of record, censor the parents’ story?

    I don’t find ScubaNurse’s comments particularly “balanced”, but she has a right to advocate, just as I have a right to decide. Seems to me folk are only against advocacy journalism when it is advocating against their interests. Best to leave if for the public to decide.

    Bottom line: Would be interested to know Brian – Can advocacy journalism (which implies a sacrifice of some aspects of balance) also be responsible?

    • Bottom line: Would be interested to know Brian – Can advocacy journalism (which implies a sacrifice of some aspects of balance) also be responsible?

      I can’t see why not.

  4. Where is Tony Ryall in all of this?
    I think postponed may be a more accurate discription.

  5. “This is the traditional way in which the media present industrial disputes involving workers in essential occupations: good versus evil; long suffering public versus selfish workers ‘holding the employer/country to ransom’.”

    Indeed. And further you comment “There are three parties in this case: the hospital workers, their direct employers (the DHBs) and their indirect employers (the government). Should the question not at least be asked: what blame, or proportion of blame, for the suffering of the patients can be directed to the employers?’

    Well some at least.Because at the end of the article is this:’Medical Laboratory Workers Union president Stewart Smith said the industrial action was not intended to affect patient services.

    Reductions in services should be blamed on the decision by some district health boards to suspend workers for up to six days.’

    There seems to be no explanation as to why the DHB’s are suspending workers for up to six days.One would have thgought that somewhat relevant to the whole delay of services…

  6. to: BE

    Can you please try and forward this message to the parents of Rebecca, Cara Porter Jones and Gary Jones. Our family were in the same situation with a child diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. The message is hang in there, they are going through the toughest part now, but after the ops, life should get a lot easier and they should check out Conductive Education – it truly works wonders for kids with CP

    Our daughter now 5, healthy, happy and started at primary school this term

    Kind regards

    Tim

    PS – If they would like to get in touch, contact at email above

  7. Advocacy journalism is fair when couched as opinion rather than fact. There may be an implied opinion that may be obvious to many readers but that doesn’t mean that a great proportion of readers don’t see this and buy into the prejudice. There is a much stronger implied tradition and expectation of fact and balance in journalism.

    I assume you’re right when you say there are no errors of fact in the story, but if they are not telling the whole story isn’t that an error of fact? Is a half-truth the truth? No.

    The balance may be in previous articles, but that is irrelevant if readers didn’t read them. Were any of the balancing articles on the front page with photos and an emotional angle? I don’t know, I didn’t see them so I’m left with a tabloid story so overt in its underhand editorialising that I am turned against the newspaper. Tabloid journalism may increase circulation in some areas but also decreases it in others.

  8. @ Peter Martin

    “There seems to be no explanation as to why the DHB’s are suspending workers for up to six days.One would have thgought that somewhat relevant to the whole delay of services…”

    NZ Herald, 24/8/10: –

    “Strikes by medical radiation technologists (MRTs) are highly disruptive because x-rays and other scans are central to the diagnosis of most hospital patients’ conditions.

    The national strike marks a ratcheting up of the pay dispute between the Association of Professionals and Executive Employees (APEX) and district health boards.

    MRTs who are members of the association have been engaged in low-level industrial action for months – things like refusing to do overtime and taking rest breaks they are entitled to.

    But yesterday the management at Counties Manukau snapped and – after warning them and the association on Friday – started suspending MRTs in retaliation for the industrial action.

    “The DHB’s position is that enough is enough,” Counties’ general manager of medicine, Brad Healey, said. The industrial action had caused “huge disruption and delays to patient care”.

    Earlier this month, Auckland’s three DHBs began suspending, for short periods, members of the Medical Laboratory Workers Union who have, like the MRTs, been taking low-level industrial action.

    Mr Healey said that to maintain radiology services for acutely unwell and injured patients during the MRT walkouts, on the strike days all elective surgery and outpatient appointments requiring radiology – the majority – were being postponed”.

    @ myles

    …but if take the “on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand”, and “whole truth” (I think in this case you mean opinion) approaches, it is no longer advocacy journalism.

  9. “The DHB’s position is that enough is enough,” Counties’ general manager of medicine, Brad Healey, said.

    Oh so it’s a case of ‘they do it to us…we do it to them’.

    And bugger the patients who get dumped on twice!

  10. Thank you, Brian, for pointing out that there is a whole complicated saga of health service management, working conditions, workforce shortages and staff retention issues etc behind the simplistic headline.

    There was exactly the same type of story in the Otago Daily Times the last time health workers struck in Otago. The baby of a prominent ODT staff member had to be sent out of Otago for surgery and consequently the ODT splurged out on editorials, opinion pieces, front page heart-rending pictures etc. And it was a sad story, of course- any person, particularly a child, needing medical attention tugs at your heart-strings.

    But what never got published (no doubt because all the health care staff concerned with the child’s care respected patient confidentiality)is that the medical care the child required was not offered in Otago, so the child would always have had to leave the province. The strike had nothing to do with it!

    PS- I’m sure that health care staff would love to be considered as an “essential service” just as police and firefighters are. That would mean that an independent panel set their wage levels. It’s pretty impossible for their strikes to be effective when they always have to stay on call to carry out any urgent work that is required!

  11. @ Peter Martin

    The first casualty of a propaganda war (and a strike/lock out qualifies) is the truth. The other casualty to which you refer is known as “collateral damage”. I only report the rules – I don’t make them!

    However, your comment reflects a valid story to which the Herald gave a human face.

  12. Totally agree with you Brian your words reflect my horror and reaction to this morning’s Herald front page!

  13. In reply to some of the issues above, the burning question is: why would a predominantly female workforce. Part of the invaluable team involved in patient diagnosis, care and treatment, and the same group that propped up Labtests when they were in difficulty be prepared to take industrial action now. All they are after is a fair and reasonable pay deal.

  14. THe Herald is extremely good at using well placed headlines (i.e page ONE!) to manipulate impressions. They know very well that a large number of readers see only the headline and a few lines of that lead article before they flick to the more important sports pages. The Herald did a wonderful job from about 2002 of manipulating what were, up until about that time, the Labour government’s highly favourable ratings – and they did it through front page headlines – these of course are replicated on billboards outside your local dairy to catch those whose sole interest in news is gathered in passing. Note how all matters that are possibly unfavourable to the present government are generally well reported but on page four! The front page is reserved for more tabloid stuff. This moring’s front page was in my view, the antithesis of good reportage.

  15. @ Stewart Smith

    …and I would suggest your burning question is actually a leading one, showing even less objectivity than the Herald.

    Alternate phrasing: “Why should a group of suspected radical feminists, intent on engaging in industrial brinkmanship and industrial sabotage, blackmail the appointed and legitimate authorities to forsake the principles of responsible statutory stewardship over the public purse, to which we all, including low income strugglers, contribute by the sweat of our brow?”

    It’s always easy to spot someone else’s lack of objectivity – as those who have posted thinking BE is supporting the cause of the hospital workers (and he isn’t – at least I’m pretty sure he isn’t). However, we are always most blind to our own.

    Oh yes – and I hope the hospital workers get a decent pay increase. Which, in the context, is not really the point.

  16. I agree Brian with your concerns about simplistic conflict-based reporting of complex issues. But since everyone else has taken the discussion off topic let me do the same.

    During the boom years of the noughties health workers got their share (if not more than their share) of government generosity. This was driven primarily by the flow on from large increases for nurses who work in their legions at the core of the system.

    Deborah Powell runs the union that represents small numbers of specialised workers that sit as a flea (not to be meant in a derogatory way) on the rump of the larger mass of workers. She is a skilled operator. Moreover choosing those small groups to represent is a canny move. This is because it is inevitably easier to give, say 5 medical physicists, a 10% increase than to agree to 4% for nurses if the going rate is 2%. The maths makes it a side show in the context of the health budget.

    The bottom line is that health workers, while easy to love, are not in my estimation underpaid relative to the prospects for our economy. They might be on an international basis but that is hardly the point.

    So lets not automatically kick the health workers (in my experience rare anyway) but lets not blind ourselves to their personal interests either.

  17. “lets not blind ourselves to their personal interests either.”

    If these health workers can’t look after their own personal interests why do you expect them to look after other peoples personal interests.

    I’m willing to bet, Fake Tony, that you don’t work in a public service role. You know…an actual public service role…where you serve the public… In life or death situations. Any hour of the day or night. Dying people. Rude people. Dirty people. Drunk people. Sick people. Little people. Dismembered people. Scared people

    Get real…Fake Tony.

  18. Apoint made by Tony (not the real tony)regarding international payrates as a benchmark for some occupations here leaves much to be desired.I flinch everytime CEOS remunerations are mentioned in the same breath as their overseas counterparts.
    The example is set from the top ,perhaps they should consider their own situation before negotiating pay rates for financially lesser employees.Lead from the top .Do as I do, not as I say !

  19. Honest governement=Honest employer=honest employee
    Dishonest government=dishonest employer=but still honest employee

    Honest worker can put up with dishonest employer and governement only to certain extent and strike is the last resort.

    if the employer and the governemnet behaves good even dishonest employee will transform into honest employee

  20. @ Jeff

    Labour supporters have been making that accusation about the Herald since it was engraved on slate!

    Simply reinforces my thesis – reactions to advocacy journalism primarily reflect the prejudices (some of them simplistic, e.g. wikioffer) of the reader.

  21. Kimbo – can you not use “NZ Herald” and “journalism” in the same sentence…..the two are not related!

  22. @kimbo

    My statement was Experience not prejudice,(Kimbo)
    I am one of the Radiographer negotiating for last 12 months,where DHB is throwing peanuts on one hand and removing bread and butter on the other hand.

    If we forbear dispute, and practise love, We all will be like angels do above.

    NZ herald should have considered all the aspect of Radiographer strike rather than just to gain sympathy from public and to gain more publicity,it published the cara porter story.

  23. @ Kimbo
    Forget to mention that your thesis ” reactions to advocacy journalism primarily reflect the prejudices”is absolutely wrong in my case

  24. @PJR

    Tony Ryall is disconnected with Ministry of health

  25. “Forget to mention that your thesis ”reactions to advocacy journalism primarily reflect the prejudices” is absolutely wrong in my case”

    Er, no, wikioffer. I consider the stridency and lack of objectivity in your posts as Exhibit A, B, C, and D for the prosecution!

    And Kerry, if, as seems to have been established, the Herald did not record any errors of fact, they have indeed given space (in previous editions) to both sides of the dispute, and advocacy journalism is legitimate, I’ll continue to exercise my own discernment.

    Seems to be a lot of the “don’t trust the public to make up its own mind” censorship spirit around – the same one that caused the Clark government to pass the almost universally loathed Electoral Finance Act.

  26. Wikioffer…just think of Kimbo next time you’re tubing someone.

    Kimbo…you might want to find out what that means…then you might understand why the Radiographers deserve our respect…

  27. @ The real Tony

    …wasn’t aware that I had recorded any disrespect for them or their cause.

    However, your failure to see the point I made (people tend to criticise the process of media coverage, when the details of that coverage is not in their interests), along with the rather patronising tone of your post, yet again reinforces my point.

    Advocacy journalism, like art, is a litmus for the reader’s prejudices and views – arguably more than being a source of influence over public opinion.

  28. Kimbo,
    I didn’t say YOU disrespected them. I however suggested we should all respect them. My understanding of the dispute is that the DHBs are definitely not respecting their employees.

    As for “Advocacy Journalism”…a litmus test diagnoses a disease, it doesn’t cause it.

    Our health system is undergoing cynical cuts at the moment and the Government is getting away with it because our journalists are working in organisations that are under similar pressures. It doesn’t matter if a newspaper is staffed by stressed out, overworked, underskilled newbies…it does if our health system is.

    Then again, I would assume you have private insurance…? Forgive me if I’m wrong.

  29. @ BE – “This is the traditional way in which the media present industrial disputes involving workers in essential occupations: good versus evil; long suffering public versus selfish workers ‘holding the employer/country to ransom’.”

    Absolutely. And not only, of course, those in essential occupations.

    There’s a long, long history of this. A few years ago, I came across an unintentionally amusing article in a 1913 edition of Wellington’s TRIAD magazine. It was on the Waterside Workers’ lockout/strike (which a few weeks later snowballed into the General Strike of 1913 – notorious for Massey’s Cossacks).

    The report began by describing the wharfies as “dark and furious persons of unpleasant aspect” (perhaps the Herald should have tried this approach with the Radiographers ?).

    The writer then went on to spend more than a few column inches emotively listing the various inconveniences the lockout/strike had caused to the general public (nothing changes in 100 years); before ending on a moral high-note with this colourful little crescendo of xenophobia: “All of this because Wharfside Bill has a grievance…..Bill is sometimes an English subject, sometimes a non-descript Negro, and sometimes a representative of one or other of those deceitful nations whose men wear rings through their ears.”

  30. @ The real Tony

    The use of the second person singular pronouns in your statements, “…you might want to find out…”, and “then you might understand why…” indicate otherwise.

    As for the rest of your post, as I am unable to discern a coherent flow of logic built on incontrovertible facts (as opposed to prejudice based on opinion), I fail to see any way I can sensibly ‘engage’.

    However, I would suggest your query whether I have private health insurance (I don’t) simply highlights your awareness that our biases shape how we read. if so, you have yet again demonstrated that a text (e.g., “HEALTH SERVICE WALKOUTS HIT FAMILY”) functions as a “litmus test”.

    You have my ‘forgiveness’, although as you had no reasonable evidence to presume in the first place, I’ll ask you to exercise more self control in future : )

    @ markus

    As a sometime Labour voter, and onetime union rep (a surprise to you, The real Tony?!), can I suggest your parochialism is almost as embarrassing as your Neville Chamberlain imitation of holding aloft a worthless (97 year old!) piece of ‘evidence’.

  31. @Kimbo

    Media has the power to represent a story and also Re-Present the story in a different way which are not true or real.How the media Re-Presented this story (Cara Porter story) has an effect on the way people ie public think and act.Specially when NZ herald completely censored DHB and Governement’s role in cancelling this baby’s surgery.
    Would you seriously advocate this sort of journalism?

    I could feel your frustration on labour government

    “the same one that caused the Clark government to pass the almost universally loathed Electoral Finance Act”

    I feel the same frustration towards DHB and Government.

    I have to be “Strident Radiographer”

  32. @ wikioffer

    “Re-Present the story in a different way which are not true or real”.

    Let’s ask the 1972 Labour electoral candidate for the seat of Miramar, and friend, biographer, and media advisor of Helen Clark, shall we?: –

    “I did not say there was an error of fact in the story”.

    I have no frustration with the previous Labour government – I voted for them! However, like the vast majority of the electorate, I thought attempts to censor free speech, and inhibit the right of anyone, media included, to state or imply a point of view was ridiculous, and got the short shrift it deserved.

    Which is why I don’t object to you using a public format such as this to state your case. However, just don’t expect me to necessarily agree with your cause (although I might), or, most important of all, your attempt to control the way in which others choose to portray or judge your industrial actions.

    I have no doubt you have to be strident – all the more reason why you are a dubious source for balanced analysis – which is what BE was asking for.

  33. @ Kimbo “…can I suggest your parochialism is almost as embarrassing as your Neville Chamberlain imitation of holding aloft a worthless (97 year old!) piece of ‘evidence’.

    Yes, you can suggest that, Kimbo. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  34. I am sorry False Real Tony but it is apparent from your responses that you have lost your objectivity on this issue. There are no cynical cuts occurring in health. What is occurring is “less more” if you get my drift. The huge increases in expenditure have been toned down to smaller increases and so they should in the present environment.

    As to “getting real” I am not sure what to get real about. But if you are suggesting that to get real means to accept that everyone who works with the sick is entitled to whatever they ask just because they do happen to work with the sick, well then I won’t get real in a hurry. Sorry.

  35. Fake Tony…”there are no cynical health cuts”…”less is more”…

    I spose you know this cos you read it in the newspaper…

    Kimbo: huh?

  36. @ The real Tony

    …and that is even more difficult to engage with.

    Let me know when your intent, along with your grammar and syntax, starts to get a bit more serious.

  37. Dear Brian

    Sincere thanks for your characteristic level headedness by pointing out that there are two sides to every story.

    I will be one of the radiographers on strike on the 7th. Strike action is a last resort, as it always should be, but the fact of the matter is that the DHBs have messed us about for no less than eleven months (our collective employment agreement expired on September 30th, 2009).

    During that time we have initially been offered nothing, then 1% from April 1st 2010 (not backdated), and a further 1% from 1st October, 2010. The increase was only offered following low level industrial action.

    The strike has come about because DHBs have suspended some of our union members, and we see this as nothing more than a clumsy attempt to intimidate people into accepting the offer.

    I have worked in a number of other jobs in the twenty years prior to my qualification, including stacking shelves in a supermarket. I now have the best occupation I think I’ll ever have, but never before have I felt so disrespected, undervalued and unappreciated by my employer.

  38. kimbo – never wresstle with a pig. you end up getting really filthy – and the pig loves it.

  39. @bje

    If you are thinking to wrestle with a pig or suggesting someone to wrestle with a pig or if you have wrestled with a pig in the past or calling someone pig

    Conclusion diagnosis:

    You need to have a Brain CT scan,Pls contact the nearest Radiology department we might arrange one for you free of cost

  40. Brian, you have really stirred things with this topic. A mixture of serious, hilarious and caustic commentary. The right leaning national newspaper will always side with this right wing government. What will be interesting however, will be the development of articles in the New Zealand Herald when the wheels eventually begin to fall off the National led coalition.At some stage in this political cycle it will happen.
    The pay dispute with Ragiographers is just another example of bully boy tactics by the government against workers and unions (re – PPTA/NZEI). These types of industrial disputes always occur when right wing governments are in power, and yes, right wing media do try to influence public opinion.

  41. wikioffer- the saying is not really about pigs. it’s to say that it’s a waste of time- and drain on one’s efforts- trying to have healthy debate with those who just like to argue in a gruelling fashion.
    james’ post is clear and puts the predicament of radiographers into focus.

  42. I seem to have missed the point here – or have I?

    BE, probably quite rightly, suggests that those who will be immediately affected by the impending industrial action/strike/lock out (take your pick according to your ideology and prejudices!), “cannot be expected to stand back and take a dispassionate look at the reasons for the strike action”.

    Then some of those who are directly involved in that industrial action/strike/lock out take that as an open invitation to either state their own personal grievance or dissatisfaction with the system/circumstances/people they think are to blame (again, take your pick!). In more extreme cases, sympathisers then wade in with a presentation of the full repertoire of radical left wing dialectical class warfare, along with claims of disenfranchisement and marginalisation by the Tory hegemony, as illustrated by every working class martyr since the battle of Peterloo.

    Either there is a wicked sense of irony at work here, or an almost admirable brazen cheek!

    If you don’t like the views of the Herald – don’t read it! If you don’t like or trust others to read it, and make up their own mind (i.e., potentially disagree with you)…then you’ll just have to be dissatisfied.

  43. Wikioffer: I could be being paranoid here, but I think BJE may having been referring to me as at least one of the pigs…I took it as a compliment. Pigs are very intelligent, and the possibility of dragging someone like Kimbo into my pen for a quick roll in the muck is one I relish… As long as he/she leaves his/her dictionary out of it…I draw the line at word-play.

    But thank you for sticking up for us pigs. PS good luck with your claim. As I understand, at time of writing this it has come down to the poultry sum of $200,000…nationwide.

  44. @ The real Tony: “I draw the line at word-play.”
    But, then, you go on to write:
    “it has come down to the poultry sum of $200,000…nationwide”

    How about, “paltry”? Unless, of course, chickens ‘n’ roosters have joined pigs on your metaphorical farmyard.

  45. Thanks Merv
    As I said…I don’t carry a dicktionary.

  46. @Kimbo

    You think you are one of the wiseman in Newzealand

    If you don’t like the views of the Herald – don’t read it! If you don’t like or trust others to read it, and make up their own mind (i.e., potentially disagree with you)…then you’ll just have to be dissatisfied.

    Well I won’t sit on my bum and be dissatisfied.I will let the NZ herald know and The NZ public know what it feels like reading which is not true.

    I advocate good journalism.The world is @ chaos because of bad Journalism..

    Have you consider joining NZ herald(May be you are working for them)

    I suppose you are not woken up in the middle of deep sleep to go to hospital ,to do scans and x-ray’s in the middle of night and when you return back home you don’t get sleep for hours.we Radiographers do.

    I suppose you are not pulled out of dinning table when you exactly about to have family dinner to go to work .But we radiographers Do.

    I suppose you are not pulled out of your family time and fun time with children to go to work.But we Radiographers Do.I have quoted only few

    All in the Interest of Public health that includes yourself and if you want to know that is called commitment and Dedication.

    Health workers need Health Pay packet to look after unhealthy people.

    If health workers pay packet becomes unhealthy
    Strike is the option.

  47. @Alex..

    You are correct Government is a Big Bully Brother
    And Can you expect anything different from DHB.

    At the end
    Who is affected both general public and Radiographers strike without pay(Mind Radiographers have family too)

    During all these troubles Government sits tight and do nothing.

    what goes around will come around to haunt one day.

    for verdict Watch Australian elction 2010.

  48. @ wikioffer

    None of which engages with the point I made, but instead ratchets up the level of intensity another notch. So much for BE’s plea for “even-handed analysis”.

    Just out of interest, has anyone thought to ask what wage increase APEX and other hospital workers gained over the previous ten years; what percentage of the health budget goes towards their wages?; has that percentage increased in the last ten years?; what productivity and outcome increases/decreases have occurred in the health sector as a ratio to public funding over those ten years?; and finally, what is the average wage increase since the GFC hit on top of a national economic slowdown/recession that commenced about 3 years ago? Or is that just “uncaring” to ask? At least you make a good point, BE, that there are certainly holes in the coverage thus far, that those details don’t seem to be reported.

    No I don’t work for the Herald, nor am I intending to do so (and why am I even having to say so?!).

    Yet again you use the term “not true” to describe that which the Herald printed. Yet again, I invite you to state a single error of fact in the story.

    However I do have one question: Why should I listen to your account of personal and family inconvenience, discontent, and frustration, when you seem to begrudge the a similar audience to Cara Porter-Jones and Gary Jones?

    Finally, good luck on a successful outcome to your strike.

  49. Wikioffer:
    I’d ignore Kimbo if i were you and go pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Good on you for speaking out, and good on Brian’s website for letting you.

    Kimbo and the like, will probably never understand what you do or what you’re asking for…most peoples’ experience of a radiographer is from meeting them with the occasional ankle strain.

    If they meet them in theatre when their leg is being sewn back on at 2.00 in the morning, they’re more than likely unconscious.

    They aren’t there when you have to x-ray the dead child in the bodybag.

    If they are conscious when you’re giving them a Barium enema, they’re hardly going to thank you for it.

    Again, this is the worse part of any negotiation, be staunch…you’ll win eventually, and if you don’t there’s always Australia.

    Cheers

  50. @Kimbo

    God Save Kimbo

  51. @ Kimbo

    However I do have one question: Why should I listen to your account of personal and family inconvenience, discontent, and frustration, when you seem to begrudge the a similar audience to Cara Porter-Jones and Gary Jones?

    welcome to the Party Kimbo

    Now you realise not only cara porter has family,Radiographers do

  52. so glad you jumped in merv, when the rooster escaped. didn’t post straight back as i was feeling a little horse at the time – whoops- hoarse.
    real tony and wikioffer are arguing their own cases and sharing their job dissatisfactions, not commenting on the herald’s possible objectives in publishing a ‘pull at your heartstrings’ piece.

  53. …a very cute answer, to go with your ad hominem dismissal, wikioffer.

    However, as you are no doubt under a great deal of pressure (like the DHB managers, and folk like Cara Porter-Jones and Gary Jones), that is understandable, and excusable. That is certainly more than can be said for the odious (triple word score!) The real Tony.

    Also, good on you for fronting, and stating your case with passion.

    However, I note, as is your prerogative, you have avoided my original question: –

    “Why should I listen to your account of personal and family inconvenience, discontent, and frustration, when you seem to begrudge the a similar audience to Cara Porter-Jones and Gary Jones?”

    By the way, wikioffer, if you are wanting to win public sympathy (which can be rather useful if it is the tax payer who ultimately pays for any increase you may achieve – and again, good luck!), can I suggest the following is a better way to go about it:

    NZ Herald, 2/9/10
    “Strike action painful, say radiographers.

    An Auckland radiographer says she and her colleagues are distressed by the effect of their strikes on patients, but the action is necessary.

    Pamela Aitken, a 29-year-old union delegate and medical radiation technologist at Auckland City Hospital, said yesterday: “We wouldn’t be radiographers if we weren’t interested in public health and safety. It’s a job that attracts people with an empathetic personality.

    “To come to a decision to go on strike takes huge emotional effort. We are definitely upset by it.””

    …and the article concludes with some numbers of radiographers remuneration, conditions, and claims.

    Anyone still want to argue the Herald has been unbalanced in its reporting?!

    What I’ve learned: Balance, especially in regards to the reporting of industrial disputes, is always desirable and beneficial. However, don’t consult any of the protagonists, their fellow travellers or sympathisers to find out what that “balance” is.

  54. 54

    The real odious Tony (TROD)

    me…bite….t..t…tung…but last werd…always…im..portint…

  55. @ The real Tony: “As I said…I don’t carry a dicktionary.”

    Wouldn’t matter, much, if you did, anyway.
    Or, are you trying to tell me: “Tony” is your mutated abbr. for Antoinette?

  56. Brian,
    I appreciate the balance your article offers.

    For me as a Radiographer, the issue isn’t about the bottom dollar. Apex has released statements on our behalf that they are willing to accept close to the same 1 + 1% as other health workers.

    The dispute now seems to be about our rights as workers to negotiate in good faith. The government is determined to cut health funding to pay for recent and future tax cuts. Front line staff like radiographers are expected to subsidise this penny pinching.

    We are being emotionally blackmailed in the media, and with the suspensions, we are being bullied into accepting cuts in our conditions and to forfiet our rights to negotiate.

    As APEX said today we are stumbling over a final $200,000. At $10,000 per DHB that is no doubt a lot less than the actual costs of hotels and flights etc that each negotiaing team has spent over the last year. Hidden costs include a loss of staff morale and the financial cost of putting patients up in bed while they wait for surgery.

    Please remember disgruntled tax payers – your tax cuts equal health cuts. I would rather pay more tax than feel I was “holding the public to ransom” to protect my working conditions.

    Cynically thinking, if the dispute is costing us all more than it is saving then perhaps the ulterior motive is to knobble health unions now so they can really cut pay and conditions later.

    Watch what happens if National wins the next election.

  57. A very good article Brian however the balance needs to go both ways – some of the reporting regarding the 90 day employment rule has been just as shabby and hysterical.

  58. My boyfriend works at northland DHB. He would like to point out that two people have moved to Australia, and one has decided to go into nursing because they will be paid more.

    Twenty five Scientists and technicians left (Mostly shifties), to take care of 160000 people, at a 1% pay increase per year. That doesn’t even cover inflation and GST increase.

  59. @ merv,bje,kimbo

    If you can defend your (Unbalanced rotten )Journalism ,I can certainly defend My profession,and my dedication,Without the similar commitment from sevral other Radiographers ,that you will lying wanting to be X-rayed in the public hospitals orelse you will begoing to get X-rayed in Australia,again you might have to face the same Kiwi Radiographers.

    @kimbo
    By the way, wikioffer, if you are wanting to win public sympathy .

    well I do not require public sympathy because I am hard working ,Honest, reliable and respectable Radiographer.Whether I get pay increase or don’t,i still go to work happily to help miserable people and the people who really need help that includes you too.

    @Anyone still want to argue the Herald has been
    unbalanced in its reporting?!

    Atleast they( NZ herald) corrected later after sevral letters and e-mails to NZ herald because they don’t do on their own.

    My arguement is when you run a story all the people involved needs to be exposed or revealed in detail and their stand and their opinion Then look for public opnion and Then public can make up their mind

    @ Bje
    “real tony and wikioffer are arguing their own cases and sharing their job dissatisfactions, not commenting on the herald’s possible objectives in publishing a ‘pull at your heartstrings’ piece”

    I am not or other radiographers are not disastisfied with the Job we do but we are dissatified with the DHB,MOH,and the people like you last but not least NZ herald.

    While governement is bailing out south canterbury finance where more ministers and MPS and their friend and relatives have invested their money,where governement is spending 219,000$ a week .We are striking for 200,000$ dispute.Do you know who is paying that bailout you and me.

    Think carefuly what you write,you may have to swallow one day

  60. Oh Dear, it appears I’ve had the last word.