A NSW parliamentary committee has found bullying is rife in WorkCover NSW.New anti-bullying laws have been recommended after an inquiry into the state’s workplace regulator, WorkCover, found a culture of bullying.
A cross-party parliamentary committee on Thursday released a damning report which found that bullying is rife at WorkCover NSW.
The committee has called for statewide anti-bullying laws and independent oversight of the agency which has the dual responsibility for both regulating workplace safety and providing workers compensation.
The committee has also recommended that WorkCover NSW should provide a public apology to Wayne Butler, an employee it was forced to reinstate after it sacked him for dubious reasons.
The deputy president of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission described an investigation WorkCover conducted into Mr Butler as little more than a ”witch-hunt” and characteristic of ”institutional bullying”.
Mr Butler had spent 12 years in WorkCover’s Safety, Return to Work and Support Division until being sacked in November 2012 following an investigation IRC deputy president Rodney Harrison denounced in June last year as ”deplorable” .
Mr Butler’s sacking followed an internal investigation into his alleged misconduct, which included claims of misuse of a mobile telephone and engagement in secondary employment. However, Mr Harrison found that the allegations against Mr Butler could not be substantiated.
”The manner in which the investigation was conducted and the subsequent treatment of Mr Butler is in my view deplorable,” Mr Harrison found. ”The conclusions reached and the logic behind them conveys an attitude of premeditation and witch-hunt … It lacks any objectivity and has the characterisation of institutional bullying.”
The parliamentary inquiry, established in response to a motion by the NSW Greens, follows another conducted more than four years ago by WorkCover safety inspector, Petar Ankucic
As reported in the Herald at the time, the earlier inquiry found the government agency was harbouring a serious bullying problem in its own ranks which it had attempted to keep quiet.
A spokesman for minister for Finance and Services Dominic Perrottet said the minister believes bullying is not acceptable behaviour and will consider the findings of the inquiry.