Bullying ‘far from over at Moira Council’

Local government minister Jeanette Powell
Local government minister Jeanette Powell

THE Australian Services Union has become involved again in the governance issues at Moira Council, which have attracted the attention of Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell.

A lunchtime meeting of council staff on Wednesday was chaired by union lead organiser Bill King, who had previously dealt with workplace bullying and harassment claims at Moira two years ago.

Mr King said members had instructed him to contact the minister about the possibility of Local Government Victoria executive director Nick Foa being available to listen to their concerns on a confidential basis when he comes to Moira on a date to be confirmed.

Mr Foa’s brief from the minister was to provide advice on “appropriate councillor conduct and governance matters”.

“Staff are stressed, they are scared, their morale is rock bottom and they fear for job security,” Mr King said.

“They feel there are issues of bullying and harassment continuing.

“If they speak up they fear for their jobs.

“You are talking about staff bursting into tears when they get to work or when they get home.”

Mr King said staff were pleased something was happening, but they also wanted a forum where their concerns could be aired.

“They feel they need some strong leadership because they are not getting it,” he said.

Mr King said he was first alerted to staff concerns at Moira in early 2012 and hoped the situation had been resolved.

“We were able to fix a lot of the problems, but they have raised their ugly heads again,” he said.

He would be prepared to work with the incoming chief executive officer to provide a better workplace environment.

“Whatever needs to happen we are willing to help,” Mr King said.

Meanwhile, the opposition spokesman for local government Richard Wynne also welcomed the appointment of a new chief executive officer.

“It is an important step, but I would be strongly encouraging the minister to maintain a close watch on Moira and its governance,” he said.

“If necessary she should put a monitor in place.”