St Vincents Staff Bullied and Gagged over Unpaid Wages

A SCATHING 158 page report is alleging St Vincent's Private Hospital potentially owes millions in unpaid wages to its staff, it can be revealed.

The Chronicle has obtained access to the huge document, which makes a number of controversial claims about practices at St Vincent's including allegations employees were "gagged" before being given what they were owed, denied requests for records of their employment and that senior management used "bullying tactics" on those who spoke up.

The report made a number of claims denied by the hospital. 

The report has been submitted to the Queensland Parliament inquiry into wage theft by the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland union and Industrial Relation Claims, a group that advocates for workers' rights.

Its details can be reported on under parliamentary privilege.

St Vincent's has denied the allegations.

"The St Vincent's Hospital scandal is a shocking example of exploitation of workers by a wealthy organisation, and raises a number of issues (including) how the employer engaged in a deliberate course of conduct that resulted in potentially thousands of workers being ripped off millions of dollars," a section of the report stated.

Members of staff have spoken out about their experiences at the hospital in the submission, claiming bullying tactics were used when employees raised concerns about being owed wages.

"We were asked to go over our agreement with a fine tooth comb - because we were told it was a fantastic agreement - and that's when we sort of picked up the fact that there was a little bit of an error," Kasey Cockburn said.

"(We) found it incredibly stressful, the minute you speak up and say you're not being paid right all of a sudden everybody knows your name and for all the wrong reasons. We became the target of gossip in the corridors, it wasn't very nice."

Ms Cockburn had worked at the hospital's emergency department for 12 years and received a payout of $16,436 from the hospital. Another employee, Leanne Andrews, said in the report she, too, felt pressure from superiors.

"There was a lot of bullying and standover tactics, people who never came into the department before," she said.

"Like I would never see my manager, and all of a sudden we were getting twice daily visits and upper management are all of a sudden turning up in the department," she said.

When asked about these claims, St Vincent's Private Hospital CEO Kathryn McKeefry in a statement said the hospital was "in the business of caring for people".

"We also care for our staff, who are integral to the delivery of our services and if staff are entitled to compensation, we want to ensure they receive the full amount," she said.

The hospital also provided another statement after denying multiple requests for an interview.

"St Vincent's Private Hospital reached agreement in April to resolve the Fair Work Commission application made by a group of clerical employees of the hospital," the statement said.

"The pay discrepancy was caused by the misapplication of a meal penalty - which has been corrected - and each of the affected employees has been compensated. Since then we've voluntarily done a retrospective audit of staff from the same area - going back six years - just to be absolutely certain there were no outstanding issues.

"We've made contact with any staff we believe may be entitled to back pay and are working through the matter with them."

 

First published in The Chronicle on 8 August 2018

https://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/st-vincents-staff-bullied-and-gagged-over-unpaid-w/3487151/


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