STIRLING councillor Elizabeth Re has been accused of “bullying behaviours” towards city staff, “including yelling, aggressive language and gestures, swearing, inappropriate and excessive emails, [and] derogatory comments about staff,” according to a motion by mayor Giovanni Italiano.
His motion to severely curtail her councillor privileges and prevent her from attending the council premises (apart from to attend to vote) was unanimously supported by councillors David Boothman, Karen Caddy, Joe Ferrante, Andrew Guilfoyle, Mark Irwin, Samantha Jenkinson, David Lagan, Stephanie Proud, Keith Sargeant and Rod Willox.
The motion, passed in a closed meeting Tuesday night, came after Worksafe issued the city with an “improvement notice” on April 12, ordering them to take measures to reduce the risk of “harm to City employees resulting from the bullying behaviours…from a councillor”.
If the city doesn’t comply with the notice and fails to protect employees from the “hazards” identified in the notice, they can be given a maximum penalty of $500,000 and senior employees and council members can face max penalties of $250,000 and two years’ prison.
Cr Italiano’s motion in part supports that council:
• Identifies Cr Re as the councillor referred to in the notice;
• Expresses serious concern that Worksafe has found that Cr Re has exposed employees of the city to risks of injury or harm to health as a result of her bullying behaviours (including yelling, aggressive language and gestures, swearing, inappropriate and excessive emails, [and] derogatory comments about staff);
• Withdraws all council privileges (other than those prescribed by law) from Cr Re. This includes withdrawing Cr Re’s access to the council building (except to show up to vote) and excluding her from representing the city at any forum or conference;
• Offer all councillors training in dealing with bullying and conflict in the workplace.
In a press release issued the morning after the vote Cr Italiano said it was “a real shame that it has come to this”.
We haven’t heard back from Cr Re, but understand she resolutely contests the claims.
Cr Italiano says “this is no trivial matter, it is serious and as such council have acted accordingly on this improvement notice from Worksafe with considerable conditions imposed on Cr Re to reduce the risk of staff being further exposed to bullying behaviours.
“With the severity of penalties that could be imposed for non-compliance, council have had no option but to act on this notice.”
by DAVID BELL