Help Grant Brookes to keep standing up for New Zealand nurses — Legal defence fund
Help Grant Brookes retain his position as NZNO President. Money raised will help pay legal fees and keep him working for our union.Wellington
Grant Brookes is the popularly elected President of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation. As a nurse and one of the 51,000 members of our union and professional association, I respect and admire Grant for the work he has done for our union members over many years, and for the way he consistently stands up for other unions’ members and for the disadvantaged.
Last year, those of us employed by District Health Boards took strike action for the first time in thirty years. As we campaigned for investment in the fair pay and safe staffing needed so our nursing and midwifery teams could rebuild New Zealand’s health system, Grant stood shoulder to shoulder with us.
The pressure of those historic events strained relationships. Despite Grant’s huge efforts over the last year to overcome and heal the divisions, he was forced to engage a lawyer to defend himself against unwarranted attacks.
Grant stood with us. Now it is our turn to stand with him.
He did not take the easy out of quitting or agreeing to be a silent figurehead. He has risked so much to help members have the union they wanted. And if you believe in that vision too, it would be great if you can support this cause in some small way.
With elections currently under way for a new NZNO Board, outgoing Board members are using questionable means to try to remove him from office on the 16th of September, their last day in power. This has now been reported in a media article linked below.
Please donate to Grant’s legal defence fund so he can overcome this illegitimate act and continue to stand up for us and for the health of our communities.
Below are Grant’s answers to questions emailed to him on Sunday the 16th of August.
1 Why did you hire a lawyer?
On 13 July 2018, I got a letter from the NZNO Board of Directors. The letter informed me that the Board had met via teleconference two days earlier and had “reached a provisional decision to suspend you from your duties as President.”
That was the first communication I received about a complaint against me from an NZNO staff member. Details of the complaint have been published in an article on the Stuff website.
These actions by the Board were unconstitutional and without just cause. Under the NZNO Constitution, the Board does not have the authority to suspend an elected President.
I engaged a lawyer, Greg Lloyd, initially to support me in resolving the issues through mediation. When the Board refused mediation, legal proceedings were commenced under Section 161(k) of the Employment Relations Act 2000, on the grounds that the Board had failed to comply with the union’s rules, and also that it had breached its obligations to deal in good faith with me, as a union member.
I recently dropped my legal proceedings after I was provided with the report of the independent investigation into the 2018 DHB MECA bargaining, conducted by Ross Wilson. I wanted to be able to commit fully to implementing its constructive recommendations.
Now that the Board is carrying through with what appears to have been its original intention, to remove me from office, more legal work will be needed.
2. Are you paying your own legal fees, as reported in the May issue of Kai Tiaki?
Yes. From the day I first engaged Greg Lloyd to represent me on 16 July 2018, I have paid all my own legal fees.
3. How have you managed to afford this up until now?
Before being elected as NZNO President in 2015, my career had been spent as a Staff Nurse and Community Mental Health Nurse. During my first three year term from 2015-2018, I honoured my election pledge to accept only Staff Nurse pay for the role of President, while working to empower members
Because of this, I have been unable to build up savings.
I have been extremely fortunate that Greg Lloyd has charged a discounted fee. The total amount I have paid to date is $18,652.50, although there are further invoices yet to come.
I have managed to pay the bills so far by going to the bank with my partner and extending our home loan.
4. How much has the NZNO Board spent on lawyers in their dealings with you?
I am not able to disclose that information. But the NZNO Annual Report, which is available to all members on the NZNO website, shows that for the year to March 2019 legal expenses for the organisation as a whole were $570,816 over budget. This amount does not include the costs of the medico-legal and employment lawyers employed by NZNO. The size of any contribution towards that overspend incurred by the Board in their dealings with me is something that would have to be sought from the NZNO Chief Executive. Bear in mind also that Board spending has continued since March.
The lawyer representing the Board has stated that they will be seeking from me a contribution towards the Board’s legal costs.
Erin Kennedy's involvement (page creator)
I'm a concerned NZNO member, who wants Grant Brookes to continue to represent us. I have known & worked with Grant in my role as workplace delegate & convenor for nearly 20 years. If a DHB sacked a member in these circumstances, there would be hell to pay.
Use of funds
All money raised will go towards Grant's legal fees in fighting to retain his elected position as President. Note that Grant has already extended his mortgage to defend himself, and costs continue to mount.
Other page links
Up until now, I haven’t been too shy to tell you all about my holiday. My time in Hong Kong this past couple of weeks is something I will never forget.
I have now arrived back to find some news from Grant, which I can share.
As you may be aware, last week Grant had to defer his hearing for an injunction to stop the Special General Meeting from going ahead. It’s probably unlikely he will get another hearing date before the SGM.
The good news is, yesterday he filed an updated application in the Employment Relations Authority seeking a compliance order against the NZNO Board, and something called “estoppel”.
The compliance order could compel the Board to abide by the NZNO Constitution, and invalidate the actions they have taken in breach of the Constitution. The order would be made after the SGM, so Grant’s focus is now on winning the vote in Wellington on the 16th of September and winning his case against the Board afterwards.
I will leave to the lawyers to explain what “estoppel” is.
This latest legal action has been made possible by your donations. There’s a long road ahead, so please keep sharing the Givealittle page, up until it closes on the 17th.
Meanwhile for me, the most memorable time in Hong Kong was joining the human chain protest for democracy. News reports said it was 50km long.
Honestly, there were people there who looked like they were 100 years old. The bravery shown by those people in standing up for what is right amazes me. A bit like Grant, really.
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This page was created on 18 Aug 2019 and closes on 19 Sep 2019.