Arrowtown museum ordered to mediate with laid-off manager

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Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum and a long-time employee it made redundant have been ordered to mediate their dispute.

Former retail and administration manager Bridget McDonald lodged a personal grievance against the museum with the Employment Relations Authority after it laid her off in July.

McDonald was one of three employees laid off by the museum as it tried to improve its poor financial position.

The museum told ERA member Helen Doyle that McDonald had waived her right to pursue a grievance by signing a full and final settlement of all employments problems by way of a letter last September.

McDonald, however, said that letter only covered an agreement to pay her long service pay that recognised her 14 years’ “valued service”.

Doyle, in a determination released today (Wednesday), states: “I am not satisfied as I must be that there was a meeting of the minds between Ms McDonald and the museum that the signing and subsequent payment under the settlement agreement was in satisfaction of any personal grievance or claims other than long service leave McDonald had against the museum.”

Doyle notes the parties haven’t attended mediation.

“I direct the parties now attend mediation.

“If the matter remains unresolved, Ms McDonald is to contact the Authority and a further telephone conference will be held.”

The museum also laid off archivist/researcher Karen Swaine and part-time archives assistant Anne Maguire last July.

At the time, Swaine vowed to take legal action and said the museum wouldn’t compensate her because there was no redundancy clause in her contract.

Swaine, however, reached a confidential settlement with the museum four months later.