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Chris Ford: And The Roger Award Should Go To.....Telecom!

Chris Ford
Chris Ford

Recently, the Campaign Against Foreign Control Of Aotearoa (CAFCA) opened nominations for the Roger Awards, the annual award saluting the multinational company or state agency that has done the most to roger the New Zealand economy.

So named after that old nemesis of the left, Sir Roger Douglas (of course) the awards have served a major purpose in alerting the New Zealand public to the exploitative practises of both local and national corporates and government agencies in ripping off both consumers and workers and degrading the local environment at the same time and usually all in the pursuit of maximising one thing - profit!

This year, in my belief, there can only be one winner. Yes, others will come close including any number of power companies who were found to have rorted the consumer by billions of dollars over the last decade and perhaps Heinz Watties New Zealand who this week it was disclosed don't buy locally produced but Italian tomatoes and ones picked by virtually indentured foreign labour at that.

Therefore, the winner should be Telecom. After all, they have had a stunning week where it was disclosed that their chief executive Paul Reynolds pocketed $5 million in pay while their company profits slumped in the wake of the recession and increased competition.

Meanwhile, Telecom are wanting to virtually turn the employees of their network company Chorus into self-employed contractors thereby passing on compliance costs such as having to file and pay tax onto them. Furthermore, this would impact on the ability of engineers to work collaboratively as they would be forced to compete against one another for Telecom business. Furthermore, their ability to earn a steady income would be eroded if they became sub-contractors and not employees.

But all this doesn't matter to the bosses at Telecom who are quite happy to exploit the consumer with gobsmacking phone line and rental charges, undermine their workforce and treat the phone users of this country as if they were all idiots. Oh no, maximisation of shareholder value (i.e. profits and dividends) come first and to hell with anything else for them.

This week I also had cause to use one of Telecom's services, namely, directory assistance to get a number. During this process, I was put through to the Phillipines where their shiny new contact centre is based. I spoke to a pleasant young Filipino woman who struggled to understand the New Zealand-based company name I gave her and I had to spell it out to her at least twice during the call. Exploiting workers in a country where the labour laws are notoriously relaxed and whose harrassed employees knowledge of place and company names in a country 6000 kilometres away is not great, is enough to drive me crazy, as it has other people.

Exporting jobs and profits is Telecom's number one goal. Having company executives and directors pocket massive pay cheques seems to be another goal. The needs of both employees and customers comes last for Telecom.

That's why it should be the winner of this year's Roger Award. I wonder if Paul Reynolds will be a good sport and show up to the ceremony and show his face to the likes of Murray Horton, John Minto and Jane Kelsey? Hmmmmm, that would be an interesting encounter but I doubt it will happen, especially when Telecom probably gets the award for all it has done to roger everyone and everything in its path this past year.

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