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Turia: Company Needs Language Reality Check

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tariana Turia
Tariana Turia

17 April 2009 - It's outrageous that a company based in the Wellington region's Polynesian capital has told its workers they can only speak to each other in English - even when on a break in the staff tearoom, says Tariana Turia - the minister responsible for Maori and Pacific employment.

"This is a kick in the face for a very significant group in the Porirua community and it must stop.

"I'm not surprised that the Human Rights Commission has warned the powers that be at Mana Coach Services that they might be in breach of the law.

"What makes it even worse is that the company hierarchy has tried to justify their policy by saying they find it threatening when hearing workers talk to each other in another language that's not English - the days of being seen but not heard are over.

"The company needs to realise that language is the corner-stone of any culture and not giving their staff the right to express themselves to another staff member in a language they both understand is depriving them of their identity - and that isn't good for any worker.

"If the company tries hard enough, it will find a way to ensure its business runs properly while not gagging staff from being who they are."

Mana Coach Services runs bus services out of three depots - Paraparaumu, Porirua and Newlands. The Mana service is owned by both NZ Bus, which also owns Valley Flyers and Go Wellington, and a company based in Scotland.

Valley Flyers and Go Wellington do not place the same language restrictions on their staff that Mana does. A union representing about 30 of the company's bus drivers is still in talks with the company over its language policy.

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