JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax, TUNI PARATA: SkyCity worker Tuni Parata at the Unite Union offices today, awaiting a meeting with SkyCity managers regarding the misconduct charge laid against her.
Tuni Parata, the SkyCity Casino worker under fire for carrying a pocket Bible at work, has been told she can keep the book in her pocket and will not face disciplinary action.
Parata met SkyCity executives at the Auckland offices of the Unite union this afternoon, and it was decided an exception would be made to the company’s uniform policy to allow her to carry a Bible with her as she worked.
SkyCity said the meeting was not a disciplinary hearing.
Parata spoke tearfully yesterday of how she loved her job as a tower host at SkyCity and wanted to stay, despite facing a possible final written warning for carrying the Bible in breach of the casino’s uniform policy.[sws_pullquote_right]I didn’t mean to offend anyone by having a Bible with me and I’m sorry if I have,” she said. [/sws_pullquote_right]
Her pastor at Faith City Church, Mark Nicholas, said the Christian message was one of love and because of this, Parata may have been seen as a “soft target”.
“I wonder what the response would have been if she was carrying another religious symbol – a Koran or something.”
Letters from the casino to Parata, released by the union, indicate she had been warned several times in the past about carrying non-work items into the “front of house” area.
SkyCity also reminded her that she could have requested an exemption to the policy but had not done so.
Parata called her pocket Bible her “companion” and said she usually kept it in her bag, but on this latest occasion decided to keep it with her, in her pocket and out of sight.
Parata said the ordeal had kept her awake at night and frequently reduced her to tears.
She said management had kept a close eye on her on the floor and she has also been admonished for fanning herself while at work during the summer.
“It makes it a little bit tense and I want to ask ‘Well what can I do?’ Everything I do it seems to have a complaint about me.”
“It can be difficult because it’s like they’re watching your every move.”
The Unite union called the no-Bible rule “absurd”.