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Office Mix-Up Caused Conflicting Explanations, Minister Says

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Kate Wilkinson
Kate Wilkinson

Wellington, Aug 27 NZPA - Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says a mix-up in her office was behind conflicting reasons being given for her not attending a meeting with the National Distribution Union NDU) yesterday.

The apparent mix-up happened as Telecom lines engineers strike against planned changes to their working conditions, and the union has said it was told by a member of her staff it was "too risky" for her to meet its executive.

Ms Wilkinson's explanation was that it clashed with an appointment she had in Auckland concerning the folic acid in bread issue, which was more important.

The minister was today grilled by reporters and then had to answer questions from the Labour Party in Parliament.

"We just had a clash of diary dates," she told reporters.

"There was confusion in my office...what I find really disgusting is how the union is dragging one of my staff through the media."

Ms Wilkinson said the confusion occurred because the Labour Department thought she should not go to the meeting.

"It didn't bother me, I had a meeting that was more important to me and I had to reprioritise my diary," she said.

"I'm quite happy to have a meeting with them (the union executive). It's no big deal, it was just a mistake."

In Parliament, Labour MP Trevor Mallard said the NDU was told Ms Wilkinson was not attending the meeting "because the risks of attending were too high given another union had been involved in strike action against Telecom".

Ms Wilkinson replied: "Unfortunately the department did advise that there were some risks but as I said, there was confusion in my office."

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