Council receives bullying reports

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2014

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Eighteen formal allegations of workplace bullying have been brought by Hamilton City Council staff over the past five years - but management insists city hall is a safe working environment.

Concerns over an alleged bullying culture at the city council were highlighted this week during an inquest into the death of Waikato Museum's former science educator Raymond Mayes.

Mayes' wife, Julie, told the inquest that ever-increasing pressures from work were key factors in her husband's death.

Mayes died on June 21, 2013, after jumping off the Bridge St bridge.

He had worked at the museum, operated by the city council, for 12 years.

Julie Mayes also alleged her husband was bullied by the museum's new director, Cherie Meecham.

Figures released to the Waikato Times under the Official Information Act show 18 complaints of workplace bullying at the city council had been investigating since 2010 - including nine alleged incidents in 2011.

In a written statement, council organisational development general manager Olly Te Ua said the allegations were investigated by a range of independent external investigators, with none substantiated.

Meanwhile, council staff turnover sits at 13.2 per cent, the highest it had been in five years.

Te Ua said the council was committed to creating a safe work environment "free from harassment, bullying and discrimination."

"We consider any form of harassment, bullying or discrimination to be unacceptable and unlawful and will not be tolerated," he said.

Te Ua said the council had worked extensively with the Public Service Association to ensure the council had a robust anti-bullying policy in place.

The policy was recently reviewed against the Worksafe NZ bullying prevention best practice guidelines and subsequently updated.

"Extensive training has been provided to all management and staff of this policy and supporting procedures over the last two years," Te Ua said.

"We have a number of options for staff to get advice and support on bullying and harassment, including a group of trained peer support people."

Regular audits by independent external organisations of the council's anti-bullying and harassment systems were conducted to identify opportunities for improvement.

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- Waikato Times

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