Result 'controversial and divisive'--Brookes.
Subject: Medical societies (Officials and employees)
Medical societies (Laws, regulations and rules)
Pub Date: 05/01/2012
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: May, 2012 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 4
Topic: Event Code: 540 Executive changes & profiles; 930 Government regulation; 940 Government regulation (cont); 980 Legal issues & crime Advertising Code: 94 Legal/Government Regulation Computer Subject: Government regulation
Product: Product Code: 8622000 Medical Associations NAICS Code: 81392 Professional Organizations SIC Code: 8621 Professional organizations
Organization: Organization: New Zealand Nurses Organisation; New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 290856217
Full Text: NZNO members will be less empowered under the new constitution, according to its opponents. Chairs of the Auckland and Wellington regional councils. Sue Sharpe and Grant Brookes respectively, are both critical of the new "top-down" constitution.

Sharpe said some members felt it was less democratic and less member-led than the old rule book. "Members are the foundation of NZNO but cracks are appearing in this foundation. People are feeling disempowered by the process and by the constitution."

Brooks says, with a 6.52 per cent vote in favour, NZNO leaders cannot claim a solid democratic mandate. "Instead they have placed our organisation in a precarious situation. Radical changes will now be made in NZNO based on a slender majority and a low turnout. I urge them to carefully consider how to reunify the organisation and promote democratic participation."

Constitution undermines democracy

Brookes believes the new constitution undermines democracy. Requirements for board membership, such as business and commercial acumen and experience in governance, finance and legal compliance, would exclude most members from participating. "They will entrench corporate values, not union values, at the top of NZNO. It gives the board untested, sweeping powers and may not reflect the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. As the narrow margin clearly shows, it is controversial and divisive," he said.

Sharpe questions how different regions will be represented. "Members in Auckland have very different issues from those on the West Coast, but this new board will not be representing the interests of regional councils. Auckland has a quarter of all NZNO members--11,000 people--but what say no-one from Auckland is voted on to the board?" she asked.

She is also critical of the lack of information on, and advertising of the new constitution and believes there would have been a better turnout if members had realised the significance of the election. "We've been swamped with information about MECA ballots, have had numerous updates on Oceania and what the AFFCO meat workers are up to, but there was not the same level of information about the constitutional vote."

Brooks echoes these concerns. "There was far too little work done to explain the complex issues involved with the constitution. Many members did not feel they knew enough to cast an informed vote. Anecdotally, for one reason or another, a disturbingly large number may not have received the voting papers," he said.

Sharpe said the ballot papers should have been sent to individual members, rather than as an insert in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand. She also had concerns about email voting, wondering if some emails got lost in spam boxes or if some employers blocked delivery.

Another concern was how members working for smaller aged-care and hospice employers where there were no workplace delegates, got any information about the ballot.

Now the new constitution has been accepted, members who were uneasy about it initially were becoming more vocal, Sharpe said. She warned some unhappy members could leave and go elsewhere for industrial and professional support.

Sharpe has also heard from members who fear their fees may go up again to pay for the changes, particularly for the full-time president and kaiwhakahaere. "Members are happy to pay for NZNO staff because they can see the benefits of these positions. But what does the president or kaiwhakahaere do that could be of benefit? Money has got tighter in the last couple of years and our fees have only just gone up. People wonder what else or what other positions they might be asked to pay for."

The new constitution creates a bicultural structure and both regional council chairs have some concerns about this, but for different reasons. Brookes says deepening the commitment to biculturalism is important for all New Zealanders who care about social justice. "The constitution will give te poari an equal say in approving, or rejecting, candidates wishing to stand for the board of directors. So, at that level, the structure is more bicultural."

Requirements will exclude and discriminate

But he's concerned the constitutional requirements for the top leadership positions of experience in governance, finance and legal compliance, will exclude people and discriminate against Maori members as a whole.

"Maori have suffered disproportionately from the rise of corporate values in wider society. Debate is raging among Maori today over whether more power to corporate warriors in the boardroom is really the way to a bicultural Aotearoa," Brookes said.

Sharpe said many members struggled with the concept of biculturalism as NZNO expressed it. "Biculturalism should mean two peoples working together, but to many people, it looks like Maori members have twice the say as non-Maori. They can vote for the kaiwhakahaere and the president, but general members only have one vote."

With many NZNO members coming from other countries, the multicultural element seemed to be missing. "We need more information about what biculturalism means--for some people, an element of racism seems to be going on."

Brookes maintains a constitution which disempowers members can only be rectified by empowering members. "Our regional council will continue to work for member empowerment with our like-minded colleagues in other regions. We will continue to provide members with information about the constitution, participate in NZNO bodies and, above all, support future constitutional amendments at NZNO's highest forum for democratic decision-making--the annual general meeting."
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.