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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Moira stays mum

Moira Shire Council refuses to comment over bullying and mismanagement allegations as union calls for talks between State Government and council staff.

TONI BRIENT March 26, 2014 4:16am

Moira Shire Council has remained tight-lipped over multiple complaints lodged with workplace and local government regulators.

A Victorian Local Government Department spokesman last week confirmed the Local Government Inspectorate was ‘‘assessing’’ three complaints it received.

The spokesman would not discuss who lodged the complaints, or who the complaints were made against, instead recommending the Courier direct questions to council acting chief executive Peter Bertolus.

Australian Services Union lead organiser Billy King said his organisation had received ‘‘half a dozen complaints’’ from Moira staff, including one which had been lodged with the Fair Work Commission.

ASU, the peak representative for municipal and administrative staff, held a meeting in Cobram this month at the request of Moira staff. Mr King said it was attended by as many as 100 people from council.

‘‘Staff are suffering high stress levels and low morale, and they’re fearful for job security,’’ Mr King said.

He said people at the meeting instructed him to ask Local Government Victoria head Nick Foa, to talk to staff during his recent visit to Cobram, where he met with Moira Shire councillors and Mr Bertolus.

Mr King said then-Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell declined the request.

‘‘(She) recommended we direct everything through the CEO’s office, which I’m a bit hesitant to do given some concerns that have been raised with me are in relation to the CEO’s office and his directors,’’ Mr King said.

Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive Rob Spence said Moira Shire councillors had contacted the organisation ‘‘asking for advice’’ in recent months, but it was ‘‘normal’’ to receive occasional calls from councillors.

‘‘We haven’t been inundated from calls (from Moira councillors), but we do get calls,’’ Mr Spence said.

‘‘From some councils, we can get a lot. I wouldn’t put Moira in that category.’’

Despite numerous requests, Mr Bertolus and Mayor Peter Mansfield were unavailable for comment.

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