Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Siriwan sues

Remember Sunan Siriwan? He was the Thai tiler who initially sparked allegations of corruption against Taito Phillip Field, after he supposedly did construction work on Field's house in Samoa in exchange for immigration assistance. Last year's Ingram Report [PDF] into Field's dealings found that the allegation could not be upheld, and that Siriwan had not been employed by Field, but by members of Field's family without his knowledge.

But that's not what Siriwan thinks. And after spending 16 months in Samoa tiling houses without being paid, he's suing Field for unpaid wages.

I know nothing about Samoan labour law, the level of any minimum wage there, what level of contractual formality is required for a relationship to be considered employment, and whether it is legal to pay people in food and board plus an irregular living allowance. But it is telling that he has chosen to sue Field rather than those named in the Ingram report as his "employers". He will have to present evidence in court that it was Field who ultimately directed his work for this to be upheld - which is exactly what Field doesn't want people in New Zealand to see.

If the suit is successful, it will be clear that Field is the exploitative, manipulative, self-interested person we thought him to be. Not to mention a liar, who misled Noel Ingram's inquiry to divert blame from himself. Even though his reputation is already mud, Field can't really afford this, so expect the suit to be settled quickly. Which may in fact be what Siriwan is hoping for...


Field has two options:
1.) Pay Siriwan a decent and fair amount for the job done, or
2.) Say that Siriwan did it in return for immigration help and thus admit corruption.

He will, if he has any intelligence, go with 1. He will, if he wants to tell the truth, go with 2.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/30/2007 03:35:00 PM

Or, like Christine Rankin's employment grievance, maybe he's doing it for publicity, having been advised that his best chance of ever returning to NZ was to stay in the headlines etc.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 1/30/2007 04:46:00 PM

Graeme: or it could simply be a legal shakedown - but in this case one that seems more than deserved.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/30/2007 05:19:00 PM

Whats the deal with Siriwan's lawyer, Olinda Woodruff (sp)? I vaguely remember reading somewhere online when this all blew up that Woodruff and Field had a prior, nasty local political feud going on against each other in Samoa. On Nat. radio yesterday Plunket pressed her a couple of times about who was paying her fees and she answered Siriwan's relatives in Thailand were paying the legal bills (including the QC she mentioned, presumably) but she have a personal motivation too?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 09:23:00 AM

I'm waiting for someone to ask Woodruff the obvious question: if Siriwan is so aggrieved, why couldn't he (or Woodruff on his behalf) be arsed testifying to last year's inquiry?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 05:57:00 PM