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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 22322
Experience:  37 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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Hi. Embroiled in a personal grievance against an employer I

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Hi. Embroiled in a personal grievance against an employer I asked the Maritime Union of NZ, of which I am a member, to have their legal people read my letter of grievance and comment. The union have hijacked the legal comment resulting from my letter and will use it to claim and negotiate with the employer in the next collective talks, they are refusing to share this information with me and have stopped communicating with me. How does one have a go at a union or incorporated society.

Chris The Lawyer : Hi and welcome. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear.
Chris The Lawyer : if this was original writing, which you commissioned, this is protected by copyright.
Chris The Lawyer : However, it will depend on who asked the lawyer to make the comment, you or your union.
Chris The Lawyer : Legal opinions are often used and copied although this doesn't always mean it is correct. Cases are used as precedents, often quoting what the lawyer has written.
Chris The Lawyer : Notwithstanding this, the original work belongs to the person who commissioned it and paid for it. So you should consider this and in your situation, see if this helps you.
Chris The Lawyer : If you don't own the writing, then the union is not obliged to share this with you when they use the material on other issues as that is not something they must share.
Customer:

Thanks. From your comment. The union directly requested and paid for the comment however I asked for them do it as my representative. I have an agreement with and pay dues for the union to act on my behalf and in my best interest I do not believe their actions are in my best interest and conflicts with my personal grievance which initiated the request for comment. I do not believe the union has acted in good faith. There should be a regulatory authority, perhaps the Companies Office, to which complaints may be made. The unions use of a personal grievance letter for their own interests would perhaps has privacy issues?

Chris The Lawyer : Privacy would be lost when this letter was used and sent to the employer, as all grievance letters must be. It may be confidential within the employment relationship however. But where the union acts as your advocate, and uses the comment, in other issues, I consider they are entitled to do so. They did pay for the opinion, even though you asked them, and pay dues.
Customer:

Ok. Last question. Then I have no avenues for redress?

Chris The Lawyer : It would have been courteous to tell you that they intended using your comment for others, and polite to ask. Those are not legal remedies, so in my view, while they may have disregarded your views, they have not acted illegally
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