Hypocrites should say sorry
WorkCover NSW should apologise and accept that it has a problem with institutional bullying, says a state parliamentary committee.
In late June, the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 1 handed down the findings of its inquiry into allegations of bullying in WorkCover NSW.
The inquiry was undertaken in response to a NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) finding that the dismissal of WorkCover employee Wayne Butler was “harsh, unreasonable and unjust” and had the “characterisation of institutional bullying”, the parliamentary committee said.
“The IRC described the investigation of Mr Butler as a ‘witch-hunt’ and speculated that it was motivated by ‘malicious intent’.”
The parliamentary committee’s findings describe the content of submissions made to the inquiry as “very disturbing, highlighting the profound impact that workplace bullying has on people’s mental health, self-worth and job performance”.
The committee gives a damning summation of WorkCover’s poor management practices: “The committee was deeply concerned by evidence [of] alleged widespread use of punitive processes, poor management practices, authoritarianism among senior managers, and denial by senior management that a significant problem of bullying exists within the organisation. The lack of trust between management and staff was very apparent to the committee.”
The committee has recommended that the WorkCover NSW executive team “sincerely apologise” to Mr Butler.
It would also like to see the WorkCover NSW executive team and Safety, Return to Work and Support Board do the following.
“[M]ake a public statement that genuinely: accepts that WorkCover, as an organisation, has a significant problem with workplace bullying; apologises to employees for past wrongs, including in respect of Mr Wayne Butler; accepts the findings of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in respect of Mr Butler; and commits to addressing, at an organisational level, the problem of bullying.”
The committee has made a number of other recommendations as well.
For more details go to the parliamentary report.
Published on 3 July 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.