Textile workers’ claim
The Geelong Advertiser published the following article this morning relating to the former TFT Division based in Belmont, Victoria.
Mandy Squires | June 7th, 2013
UP to five employees of the former Belmont textiles division of CSIRO are considering taking legal action over bullying and harassment claims, which include a stabbing threat, the abuse of special needs employees and sexual harassment, it is alleged.
A spokesman for the Victims of CSIRO group, Andrew Hooley, yesterday said the former employees had sought his advice on how best to proceed with their claims as they did not have faith in the “CSIRO-sponsored” investigation into bullying and harassment within the organisation.
“The nature of complaints relate to adverse actions and decisions which were taken which were prejudicial to those people. In a couple of cases people have actually been physically threatened with harm and harassed,” Mr Hooley said.
“It’s certainly the case with the claims originating from Belmont that they (the complainants) are quite loath to actually participate in the inquiry so they have been looking at other avenues, whether it be a compensation claim or whether it be a common law action … what we’ve been investigating is the prosecution of claims individually, potentially through a single law firm.”
The Victims of CSIRO had received more than 100 complaints nationally, with several from Geelong, he said.
The Geelong claims relate to the Textile and Fibre Technology division of the CSIRO – located in Belmont until early this year – and not the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in East Geelong.
Mr Hooley said the alleged incidents, most of which took place in 2008 and 2009, included:
A THREATENED stabbing;
SHARP metal objects being thrown around in a workshop causing injury;
THEFT of intellectual property and falsifying patent applications;
ABUSE of special needs employees;
SAFETY concerns being ignored leading to a serious injury being sustained after an employee got his hand caught in a textiles machine;
NEPOTISM in appointment of new staff;
INTERFERENCE with academic studies;
FAILURE of human resources employees to respond to bullying allegations, stating that it was “not CSIRO’s responsibility to get involved”;
and SEXUAL harassment of a female employee.
CSIRO media spokesman Huw Morgan said the organisation would not comment on the claims or the investigation.