Advocate will go into bat for victims of workplace bullies

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 17/03/2014

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Victims of bullying: you now have an advocate.

Former Hamilton City Council staffer Allan Halse yesterday launched his new consultancy business to rid intimidation and harassment from the workplace.

Mr Halse set up CultureSafe NZ Ltd after he searched for assistance for victims of workplace bullying but found there was no help.

"There aren't people that look after people who have employment issues of a workplace bullying nature.

"There's just no agencies out there," he said.

The former union delegate and outspoken employee was sacked from Hamilton City Council in January for a series of breaches but challenged the decision and settled after two days of mediation.

He went from an employee to an employee under fire which opened his eyes to the need in the community for the service.

He's since fielded numerous calls and has been stopped in the street with messages of support.

Mr Halse has "about 10 clients" on his books and has partnered with Hamilton litigation and disputes specialists Whitfield Braun.

"It's groundbreaking stuff and quite exciting but a little bit scary in that if it takes off it means that I'm going to have to put resources in place."

WorkSafe New Zealand launched a set of guidelines in February to encourage people to take steps against workplace bullying but Mr Halse believed it lacked accountability.

"They haven't looked at anything punitive," he said.

"It's a carrot and a stick thing, unless there is a stick, bad employers aren't going to change what they are doing."

Private businesses were more likely to create safe workplaces because productivity depended on it and publicly funded organisations needed support, Mr Halse said.

"Some of the bigger organisations, ones like DHBs and some of the bigger ones, they are more likely to end up with problems than privately owned companies," he said.

"If you are going to want it to be profitable, you are going to look after your staff.

"That's pretty much what it comes down to."

Bullying culture and bullies needed to be identified and held to account and he said nothing would change in a workplace until the issue was taken seriously, he said. elton.smallman@waikatotimes.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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