Delay over bullying inquiry at WorkCover attacked

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Delay over bullying inquiry at WorkCover attacked

The NSW Government has been attacked for taking five months to set up an inquiry into workplace bullying at WorkCover – the body that is supposed to police bullying in other work sites around the state.

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The NSW Government has been attacked for taking five months to set up an inquiry into workplace bullying at WorkCover – the body that is supposed to police bullying in other work sites around the state.


Media reports this week revealed that a union survey of 180 of WorkCover’s 1200 staff found that 83% of those surveyed had experienced or witnessed bullying from supervisors and managers.

WorkCover claimed this sample was too small, but its own survey of 826 employees found that almost half believed WorkCover is not always a good workplace.

Psychologically and emotionally unhealthy

One fifth said that is was ‘always’ or ‘often’ untrue to describe WorkCover as a ‘psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work’. Another 29% said it was ‘sometimes’ psychologically and emotionally unhealthy.

In response WorkCover claimed the survey showed more than 65% of employees thought the agency was ‘a great place to work’.

WorkCover and the Public Service Association (PSA) will now establish a joint taskforce to inquire into the claims of bullying.

PSA assistant secretary Steve Turner said WorkCover had taken more than a year to sign the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter designed to eliminate bullying from all NSW public sector agencies and departments. He said the PSA had been keeping a ‘watching brief’ on WorkCover for some time.

Bullying ‘ignored’

NSW Opposition spokesman on Industrial Relations, Chris Hartcher, said the revelations about signing the charter ‘shows how long bullying has been ignored in the department’.

‘Industrial Relations Minister Della Bosca is responsible for ensuring WorkCover stamps out harassment in businesses across the state and yet frontline WorkCover staff are being harassed and bullied themselves,’ Hartcher said.

‘Della Bosca took five months to set up an inquiry into WorkCover bullying, clearly he has been out of touch with his own portfolio and the wider issue of workplace harassment.’

Forced to apologise

Hartcher said admissions during Estimates hearings in October 2007 revealed WorkcCover senior managers had twice been forced to apologise to staff via email for foul language.

'Many bullying victims in Workcover are unwilling to speak out against their treatment fearing retribution,’ he said.


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