January 19, 2018

Bullying, intimidation and union influence need investigation

The WA Opposition has called on Premier Mark McGowan to ask the Public Sector Commissioner to urgently investigate bullying, intimidation and union influence within Government departments.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said the Commissioner should investigate the circumstances surrounding the departure of the first female superintendent at DFES, Amanda Williamson and the appropriateness of the United Firefighters Union’s enterprise bargaining agreement stipulating that senior positions within DFES are open only to employees who have firefighting or equivalent competences as agreed by the UFU.

“This is an opportunity for the McGowan Government to demonstrate it is not beholden to the union movement,” Dr Nahan said.

“The Premier must immediately instigate an investigation into the departure of Ms Williamson, a highly respected public servant.

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Peter Katsambanis said the Commissioner should also review the rights of the UFU to have such influence over the appointment of employees to senior positions within DFES.

“Who is running Western Australia? The McGowan government or the faceless union bosses?

“These unelected union officials have excessive influence within the McGowan Labor Government, dictating what is happening in DFES and Corrective Services and who can and cannot be appointed to senior departmental positions,” Mr Katsambanis said.

“Any inquiry conducted by the Public Sector Commissioner must also be expanded to investigate claims of bullying and intimidation in the Department of Corrective Services.

“There is a clear pattern emerging that departments under Minister Fran Logan are experiencing unrest because the Minister is allowing unions to have free reign and dictate how they will be run.

Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, Dr Steve Thomas said the influence of the UFU extended beyond appointments and was impacting on policy development and departmental structure.

“The unions are telling the Government what its position should be with respect to regional fire services. The Government is not acting in the interests of the public or volunteers, they are acting in the interests of the unions.

“I believe Ms Williamson’s background shows a distinguished career which would have added significant value at DFES, and I would be extremely concerned if she was bullied out of DFES. The Western Australian public service does not appear to be focused on merit based appointments or importing much needed skills. It is instead fixated on promoting career public servants with union affiliations.

Dr Nahan said the Government would be judged on its reaction to influence from the unions and it needed to immediately commence a wide ranging Public Sector Commission inquiry into appointments within DFES.

“Such an inquiry should be the start. The Commissioner should also look into bullying, intimidation and harassment at DFES, as well as Corrective Services,” Dr Nahan said.

Media Contact
Andrew Gaspar
0418 922 668