Skip to content.
Updated at 2:42 pm on 10 December 2012
A vice-president of Actors' Equity has been sacked as a Wellington tour guide for reportedly making a derogatory comment about the filming of The Hobbit movies.
But Todd Rippon said he made no such comment and that his prominent role within the union was behind his dismissal.
He said a staff member from Absolutely Positively Wellington Tourism claimed he said something derogatory about the movie while escorting a group of international journalists for the premiere of the first Hobbit movie.
Mr Rippon said that when he confronted his employer, Rover Tours Ltd, he was told he could not work for the company while a member of Actors' Equity.
Rover Tours owner Scott Courtney would not comment on what he called an employment matter.
Positively Wellington Tourism said it did not lay a formal complaint about Todd Rippon.
The agency said it routinely submits feedback on tours and last week that included a suggestion to Rover Tours Ltd that it might want to look at some of the wording used.
The agency said it is not interested in the union membership of tour staff.
An employment lawyer says it is illegal to sack someone because they are a union member.
Andrew Scott-Howman told Morning Report the Employment Relations Act makes it clear it is illegal to discriminate against union members and workers can make a personal grievance complaint if this happens.
Labour is disturbed by the sacking. Industrial relations spokesperson Darien Fenton said it would be wrong if Mr Rippon's job loss was connected to his union membership.
Green Party industrial spokesperson Denise Roche said the Government has created a climate of fear around the Hobbit and sent a signal to employers that they can get away with treating union members poorly.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand
Audio is categorised based on the frequency of the programme it was heard in. Click on the headings below to access the programmes. For the most recently published audio, go to the latest audio page.
Streams are in Windows Media format. Mac and Linux users may need to install additional software. Get help with audio
A selection of music interviews, reviews, videos, concerts, sessions, and performances.
Downloads and podcasts are available for selected programmes. Our podcast page has a complete list of feeds.
Help on using online audio: formats, software, podcasts, downloading, and troubleshooting.