Employer accused of ‘bullying and intimidation tactics’

Access Community Health has suspended workers without pay for a second time this week

Employer accused of ‘bullying and intimidation tactics’

In response to industrial action by union members, Access Community Health has suspended workers without pay for a second time this week.

The move comes ahead of a full day of strike action planned for Friday, with picketing expected at the head office in Petone from 9:00am to 12:00pm.

The organisation has suspended half the contact centre coordinators in its head office in Petone for three hours, according to the Public Service Associate (PSA). All on-site union delegates were also suspended.

Melissa Woolley, PSA assistant national secretary said that this is “what union busting looks like”, and it is “completely unacceptable”.

“Access’ use of bullying and intimidation tactics in response to low-level action is harsh and aggressive towards their employees, as well as undermining the bargaining process.”

The action taken by Access in response to the industrial action has included suspending union delegates on the coordination team, trying to deter members from striking by offering to revoke suspension in return for abandoning strike actions, and singling out members following strike action to explain their ‘poor work performance’, according to the PSA.

Woolley added that Access’ response to our industrial action was designed to pit workers against one another, with one group offered temporary assignments to cover the suspended workers responsibilities.

“What makes the behaviour even worse is that it flies in the face of recent communication from Access management advising all staff that any bullying of co-workers would be seen as serious misconduct,” said Woolley.

“We agree whole-heartedly that bullying of co-workers should be seen as a serious misconduct – and bullying of staff by management needs to be acknowledged as both misconduct and abuse of power.”

News of suspension was conveyed to workers via letters as they arrived at the office, after people collectively agreed to a partial withdrawal of labour as protest to their pay and conditions.

This involved continuing to answer calls as normal, but to not respond to texts and emails for a designated period of time.

PSA national secretary Kerry Davies said Access is a for profit company receiving Government funds paid by workers taxes to deliver home support to older and disabled people.

“The PSA fears their attitude and treatment of their staff does not bode well for those people they are contracted to provide services for,” said Davis.

“These bullying tactics can only end up hurting both their staff and the people they provide services to.”

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