Monday, February 3, 2014

BLOWIN' IN THE WIND (STILL)



Well, any answers from CIT are still Blowin' in the Wind. The fact that CIT and now Andrew Kefford's office ignores our emails is proof positive that CIT in particular, has not a shred of respect for any of the victims of bullying so do not believe their assurances in the media or the ACT Legislative Assembly that they have done their job and everyone is happy now.

What would it hurt CIT to answer some of the genuine questions I have asked below?

_________________________________________________________________

Lorese Vera
12/11/13

Jenny Dodd
Acting Chief Executive
Canberra Institute of Technology

To: Jenny Dodd regarding apology letter of 15/10/13

Jenny

I really wish your apology was one I could accept but I cannot at this stage.
Words are all we have had so far and after ten years of them with the files piled high, your apology at the moment is mere words and until these words are followed by actions. Based on my experience of assurances from CIT to date, I see no reason to trust or believe in them as much as I would like to.

I will believe that you really mean to apologise to me personally by making sure I am offered work back at CIT that I am more than qualified for and experienced in, and that the person who lied to me about what was happening with my position apologises to me directly. This person by the way was unqualified to be making any decisions in regards to me. As a casual teacher, I and countless others were and are very vulnerable to underqualified and untrained ‘managers’ who used their ill-gained power to assume that casuals were easy targets and wholly expendable. Commissioner Mark McCabe’s report stated that the sheer numbers of casuals at CIT was one of the reasons there was so much bullying. What do you intend to do about the special vulnerabilities of casual and contract staff?

It is not enough for you to quote Commissioner Kefford’s report (page 13) as ‘proof’ that CIT is changing workplace management practices. What we need from you are details of what these changes actually are.
In particular, I would like not just your assurances but details in writing, that people who manage teachers, formerly called ‘Education Managers’, have management training and also have the mandatory teaching qualifications. I was managed by people much less qualified than me and for up to 12 months by some who did not have the mandatory teaching qualifications. I must say, some of these people were excellent managers in a work load sense, but they did not understand their obligations to protect their staff, especially casual staff from bullying. What are you doing in particular to make sure that casual/contract teachers at CIT are afforded the same rights protections and respect as fulltime teachers?

I believe you need to institute a forensic audit of level two and three positions from 2010, apologise for serious mismanagement here, and SHOW what changes will ensure this situation never happens again. You will find that a lot of the bullying is directly attributable to unqualified people in these positions who for reasons there is not space to go into here – decided bullying was a handy management practice – perhaps to cover their own inadequacies.

What is the exact process you will institute to make sure that Education Managers (and other managers) are themselves, subject to assessment from their staff on their management style and decisions? If I had been able to write on some kind of an assessment sheet (without fear) of the daily harassment, sarcasm and threats of losing my job at any moment if I didn’t ‘increase the business’ by a manager in my area, this person could have been called to account years ago as I am obviously not the only person who suffered under this regime.

Please note that my OWN manager was aware of this, I spoke to her about it, she agreed it was wrong, she agreed this person needed ‘telling’ or ‘pulling into line’ but still, did nothing about it because (as stated) he was her colleague! I need to let you know that I also had meetings with the current and then next two centre directors (acting) on the same issue –neither of who did anything though one stated that if I put in a formal complaint they would do something. I said I was afraid of what this person would do to me if I did that and I was right – he made sure my contract was not renewed. I hope you would agree that this was an appalling ‘management’ situation.
I will come further in my belief in your apology if this notorious person suffers some kind of disciplinary action before they are able to retire on a ‘Golden handshake’ by about May 2014 – the most likely scenario.

You say that our individual matters are currently with ‘The Delegates’. Who are these people and why should we trust them? What if we do not agree with the ‘outcomes’ that these apparently CIT insiders decide on? Over the last two years I have seen many files of letters that CIT sent to complainants full of half truths, lies, fobbing offs, and ‘mobbing’ by ‘high command’ all repeating the same erroneous ‘facts and findings’ to the extent that CIT seemed to have thought that if enough senior cronies say it is true then it must be. I fear more of the same. 

I understand that at the moment the complainants have no right of reply. I want you to understand that a thousand wordy apologies will not stop us doing everything in our power to get that right of reply. Actions will speak louder.

You claim in your letter that “CIT has recommitted itself to fostering positive workplaces with healthy workforce cultures and will continue to resource and consistently apply the initiatives set out in response to the WorkSafe report of April 2012”. Well, that was in April 2012 and CIT have only now written to complainants.  As I said before, where are the details? What are you doing exactly to fulfil the WorkSafe report in particular in respect to casual teachers?

I completely reject the assertion that failures at CIT were confined to a number of small areas though I do agree that a number of small areas had especially horrific bullying practices over many years, leaving both former staff and former students hurt, depressed and anxious with huge blows to their professional status and confidence.

I found the work practices of some in and around the Office of the Chief Executive while I worked there with you and others appalling. I found a general atmosphere of unprofessional nastiness among some management with some vying to go over the head of others to get their own way. I found that some management jealously guarded their ‘information’ as if it was indeed theirs to ‘own’. I found obstacles put in my way in the position I was in at every turn largely because I was there on a ‘casual basis’ so there was no need to show me any respect.

 I found the tax payers money wasted at every turn by petulant infighting by management with a need to hold on to their perceived power and greedy for what they could snatch from others. This most important area at CIT was toxic – and I am not the only one to describe it as so, so don’t tell me the problem was small.

I was at the time and am still largely unaware of the particular political machinations and history of what was going on in that office but Jenny, it was disgusting. It affected me and I was at sea trying to work out what was wrong and what was really going on – who was the ‘real’ power behind the throne and why management even at your level poured scorn on ‘lesser’ staff at meetings (behind their backs) and even scorned the then Deputy CEO!

I urge you and sincerely hope that you take on board that a new atmosphere of mutual respect management to management and management to staff at CIT MUST be immediately forthcoming. 

To summarise, Level 1 teachers (and other level admin staff) must have the right to report on the management they receive just as their managers’ report on their work. The Performance Management system must no longer be a ‘top down’ process only. It is this process that has facilitated a lot of the bullying particularly when an underqualified ‘teacher’ is a colleague of another teacher one day and their manager the next – with no management training and perhaps with professional jealousies in place that they have in their new position new powers to exercise unfairly.

Casual and casual/contract staff needs to be afforded the same rights protections and respect as ‘regular’ staff.

Past employment of levels 2 and 3 need forensic investigation back at least to the start of 2010, to weed out where irregular practice has illegally affected the employment of others, often constituting bullying when the level 1’s rightly protested their treatment.
There are other matters I would like to speak to you about at a later date.

Lorese Vera












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