Changes on hold as Moira waits for chief

Local government executive Nick Foa.
Local government executive Nick Foa.

MOIRA councillors have been urged to instruct senior management not to make any further structural changes until a full-time chief executive officer is appointed.

The Australian Services Union has written to mayor Peter Mansfield and other elected representatives this week asking them to instruct acting chief executive Peter Bertolus to resist any more staffing shake-ups.

The letter is addressed by assistant branch secretary Richard Duffy.

“Employees and members at council are enduring high stress levels, low morale and are extremely worried about their job security due to allegations of bullying and harassment,” Mr Duffy said.

“To engage in any restructure of the organisation, no matter how minor, would only exacerbate the situation.”

The union has further requested councillors and management to appoint an independent person to investigate issues at the council.

Mr Bertolus has been acting chief executive since the dismissal of Gary Arnold last year.

Union lead organiser Bill King fronted a staff meeting soon after a visit to former local government minister Jeanette Powell by Cr Mansfield and Mr Bertolus.

The union had hoped staff could speak to local government executive director Nick Foa on his visit to Moira this week, but the request was denied.

Cr Mansfield confirmed he and other councillors had received a letter from the union, but was tight-lipped about its contents.

“It will be replied to in due course,” he said.

“The letter was confidential so I really can’t say what it is about.

“They have expressed some concerns.”

Asked if he thought the concerns were legitimate, Cr Mansfield said: “No”.

Cr Mansfield said the council had selected a preferred replacement chief executive and hoped an announcement could be made within a week.

The successful candidate is not expected to start at Moira for at least two months.

The focus of attention for Mr Foa this week was councillor conduct and urged them to “respect and trust each other” and to work with the chief executive to ensure due process was followed.

Councillors have been deeply divided over an independent probity audit proceeding.