ASU CoGG Bullying Survey
If you have not completed the short ASU CoGG Bullying survey (it only takes a couple of minutes) please do. The data gained from this survey will assist the ASU to work with Council toward a better system of addressing bullying at CoGG.

Even if you have not experienced workplace bullying, please complete the survey; we want to hear from everyone.

You can complete the survey here: www.tinyurl.com/CoGG-Bullying

 

Intensifying concerns
It’s been a wildly busy few months for the ASU in Geelong, with many issues that ASU members have been enduring for some time bubbling over.

 

Taking the issues to the CEO
After frustration at the lack of action by Executive Management around issues felt across CoGG, the ASU wrote to CEO Martin Cutter on 14 May and outlined six requests on behalf of members.

They were:

  • Provide a list of non-permanent positions currently at CoGG;
  • Provide a list of plant being unutilised;
  • Remove the 2-week cap on donated sick leave;
  • Establish a working group to address the bullying culture pervading CoGG;
  • Remind managers of the rights and protections held by ASU Delegates; and
  • Support ASU Delegates to have monthly paid meetings (currently bi-monthly)

As a result, Mr Cutter met with ASU senior elected officials and delegates and provided undertakings to address some of the matters that had been raised.

Taking the meeting to the park
The capacity for ASU delegates to meet monthly remains unresolved. In response ASU Delegates agreed that we would meet monthly, and that if CoGG wouldn’t allow paid meetings then we would meet during an unpaid lunch break, in public.

As a result, a large group of ASU members from across Council took the bold step to meet at Transvaal Square to voice their concerns and show Council the seriousness of their issues. This was in spite of attempts that morning by Executive Management to prevent them meeting.

Members resolved to meet again at City Hall before the next Council meeting. The resolution was carried unanimously.

Taking the fight to City Hall
On 28 May a large gathering of angry ASU members formed outside City Hall to put voice to their frustration at the time it was taking to address our concerns.

Facilitated by ASU Officials, the ASU reported back on the outcomes that had been achieved and the issues outstanding, particularly in relation to the bullying culture which was seeing significant light in the local press.

Unsatisfied with the slow rate of improvement around urgent problems like bullying, insecure work and unutilised plant, ASU members and Officials have continued to meet before each ordinary Council meeting since then.

Taking the message to the Councillors
ASU members were pleased that several CoGG Councillors took the time to stop and listen to some of what was being said at the City Hall rally in July, and now want to ensure their message is reaching the ears of those in charge.

As a result, the ASU has been instructed by members to put together a number of questions for the August ordinary Council meeting, to highlight the outstanding issues and the toll they are having on the culture at CoGG.

 

Updated response to ASU issues
There have been improvements in most of what the Union sought from Mr Cutter back in May; some significant, others unsatisfactory.

Here is where those issues are right now:

  • Non-permanent roles at CoGG

Council finally provided the ASU with a comprehensive list of non-permanent roles at CoGG, and we continue to work with HR to improve the quality of that information. This will greatly assist the ASU in gauging the scale and location of insecure work at CoGG so we can identify those roles which should be filled with permanent workers.

  • Unutilised plant

No list has been provided, and the ASU recently received a response to this issue by Council Director Guy Wilson-Browne that it has been resolved because “any old plant has been disposed of” – We don’t see it that way!

  • Removing the 2-week cap on donated sick leave

The cap has been removed, and the ASU is currently working with CoGG to ensure staff who were disadvantaged by this unfair and arbitrary cap are duly compensated.

  • A working group to deal with the culture of bullying

ASU Delegates requested that the SRCC be used as the group to address this and a standing item has now been added to the agenda for those meetings. We anticipate adequate time will be set during the meetings to ensure this serious issue has the attention it deserves.

  • Rights of ASU Delegates

A memo was circulated to all managers at CoGG outlining the rights of a Union Delegate, however the ASU continues to have serious concerns about ongoing actions taken against our Delegates (and OH&S Reps) in certain areas of Council, and puts those perpetrators on notice that we will take a zero tolerance approach to adverse action against our members in their capacity as workplace representatives. The ASU will be working with all Union Delegates to ensure they are protected in carrying out their role. This behaviour must stop!

  • Monthly meetings for ASU Delegates

Despite initial reluctance, the ASU has received indication from CoGG that this issue will be resolved shortly.

 

Some steps in the right direction
ASU Branch Secretary, officials and delegates met with CoGG’s new Executive Manager, People and Culture Kaarina Phyland, and Policy & Workplace Relations Manager Judy Barnesby on 24 June at the ASU.

There were a number of the positive outcomes outlined above, as well as commitments around working with the ASU arising out of this meeting.

A follow-up meeting between the same parties will be taking place on 8 August where the ASU expects further commitments, including tangible outcomes, to be provided around more of the issues we have raised with Council. This will be reported back to Union members in due course.

 

Where to from here?
Commitment from CoGG to proactively address issues has led to improvements. We will continue to push for greater respect to the views of the workers, and better consultation with staff wherever changes need to be made.

 

Notable dates/events in August:

  • 8 August: Meeting with senior ASU Officials, Delegates and CoGG Managers at ASU Office
  • 21 August: ASU CoGG Delegates’ meeting at Geelong Trades Hall Council
  • 22 August: City Services Consultative Committee meeting at Corio Depot
  • 22 August: Staff Relations Consultative Committee meeting at City Hall
  • 27 August: Next ordinary Council meeting (we’ll let you know what we’re doing soon!)
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