Work­ers deny claims of bul­ly­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing at Can­nons Creek Fanau Cen­tre has seen two em­ploy­ees file per­sonal griev­ances and seek repa­ra­tion to­talling $50,000.

The two em­ploy­ees, whom Kapi-Mana News has agreed not to name, were ini­tially sus­pended in early Au­gust, af­ter ac­cu­sa­tions from three other co-work­ers that they were bul­ly­ing and in­tim­i­dat­ing other staff. They re­fute these claims.

The Fanau Cen­tre is well-known in the Porirua com­mu­nity. It is a not-for-profit group and one of six fam­ily ser­vice cen­tres in New Zealand pro­vid­ing ser­vices for fam­i­lies with chil­dren from birth to 13 years old. This in­cludes child­care, ad­vice and ad­vo­cacy and coun­selling for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Funded by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment, the cen­tre re­ceived $50,000 in Novem­ber from the govern­ment’s com­mu­nity re­sponse fund.

Kapi-Mana News has ob­tained let­ters from both the Whi­tireia Law Cen­tre, whom the two em­ploy­ees en­gaged in Au­gust, and Em­ploy­ment Con­tract Ser­vices, to the Fanau Cen­tre, out­lin­ing the griev­ances.

Fanau Cen­tre man­ager Liz Kelly, also Porirua’s deputy mayor, had lev­elled the al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing against the two em­ploy­ees, but they claim it is the other way around.

‘‘It’s been bad since the be­gin­ning of the year and for us to be ac­cused of what we are is ridicu­lous. I had an ar­gu­ment . . . at a staff meet­ing and two days later there’s this stuff about me in­tim­i­dat­ing other staff. You speak out and there are reper­cus­sions. We work in a heal­ing place, it’s sup­posed to be a place of as­sis­tance and sup­port.’’

One of the em­ploy­ees claims ‘‘ at least eight’’ staff from the Fanau Cen­tre have left in the past six months.

The duo say the Fanau Cen­tre’s trust board have been no help, even though chair­man Mike Fer­ma­nis told them at one stage ‘‘I will sort it’’.

They say they were never given any writ­ten or ver­bal warn­ing be­fore their sus­pen­sion in Au­gust. Now, with Em­ploy­ment Con­tract Ser­vices in­volved, they are seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion, with a let­ter from the com­pany to Mr Fer­ma­nis on Septem­ber 2 stat­ing ‘‘the whole mat­ter has been han­dled in an in­ap­pro­pri­ate and un­fair man­ner. This [sus­pen­sions] oc­curred in breach of good faith re­quire­ments [and] they were de­nied rep­re­sen­ta­tion even when they sought it.’’

The al­leged com­plaints against the two em­ploy­ees ‘‘ con­tains so lit­tle sub­stance and most of it is very old’’ and it is al­leged Ms Kelly ‘‘ im­plored staff to write let­ters of com­plaint’’. For the man­ner in which they were sus­pended the two em­ploy­ees are seek­ing $5000 each, plus $20,000 each in per­sonal griev­ances against Ms Kelly.

Kapi-Mana News sought com­ment from Ms Kelly but were di­rected to­wards Mr Fer­ma­nis. He did not an­swer our ques­tions, but pro­vided the fol­low­ing state­ment.

‘‘The Fanau Cen­tre can­not talk about mat­ters re­lat­ing to the em­ploy­ment of staff. The cen­tre is pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent ser­vice to the peo­ple of this area as we have done for many years and will con­tinue to do so.

‘‘Our fo­cus is al­ways on the peo­ple we serve. The board be­lieves that our gen­eral man­ager Liz Kelly has done an ex­cel­lent job and we ex­pect that she will con­tinue to do so.’’

Last hur­rah: David Dar­roch’s hard­ware store sells all man­ner of items that would be use­ful around the home, but his dimly lit aisles will not be full much longer.

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