CEO says Cockburn too unsafe to work

COCKBURN council has ordered an investigation into claims by CEO Stephen Cain that working for them is so stressful it’s unsafe.

Mr Cain has been on paid sick leave since October 23 when he sent an email to councillors saying he’d not been provided with a safe workplace. The email was accompanied by a doctor’s certificate saying he was unfit for work for two weeks – from October 23-November 8.

But at a special council meeting on Monday, the council voted to send him on “special paid leave”, with orders to stay away from work and any related functions until the investigation had looked into the matters he’d raised in his email.

The agenda for the meeting notes that “the timeframe for such an investigation is unknown and will be dependent on the availability of relevant persons”.

Although the council narrowly voted to keep the details confidential, several sources confirmed it was related to in-fighting which had bubbled along for years before erupting last week on the front page of the Herald (“Cockburn implodes,” November 2, 2019).


One said they were concerned about how long the inquiry would last, given Mr Cain’s email had referred to a period of around 10 years, which could mean dozens – if not hundreds – of interviews.

That could mean a costly investigation, which will come on top of the higher duties allowance Mr Cain’s replacement – current finance director Stuart Downing – will be paid to step into his shoes.

Cockburn Labor MLA Fran Logan says he’s been aware of the issues for a while, as councillor Philip Eva is an electoral staffer, but had kept at arm’s length.

“I think it’s been a bit nasty and spiteful, but it’s not something I want to get involved in,” Mr Logan said.

“It’s a different tier of government, and I’m sure they’d feel the same about me sticking my beak in as I would if they started telling me how to run the state government.”

Mr Logan said he wasn’t aware of any moves to bring in the local government department for a full inquiry – which wields many of the powers of a Royal Commission – and hoped the council could sort it out.

“But I’m sure the minister’s aware of it; his department would have been getting copies of the complaints, and it was on the telly last night.”


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