Sacking at council kept quiet
By PETER CATON
A SCANDAL involving the alleged manufacture and private sale of concrete products at a Tweed Shire Council works yard has been been kept under wraps by council management.
One employee has been quietly forced to leave, following revelations about the scam which allegedly involved using concrete, re-inforcing steel and formwork to produce high-standard concrete sleepers for sale.
It is believed general manager Mike Rayner became aware of the scam in December.
A spokesperson for Mr Rayner would only say the incident was a staff matter and "has been handled".
Executive assistant for the administrators Genevieve Slattery declined to reveal if a report had been made to the council's three administrators, saying it was a matter for Mr Rayner.
But she also said the council had to abide by "legislative requirements" to protect a person who was classified as a "protected disclosure witness".
Ironically the Protected Disclosure Act, often simply called the Whistleblowers Act, has also been cited by council staff who told the Daily News it did not give them enough protection to further raise associated issues.
The staff, who want to keep their identities secret, remain upset over the matter and have vowed to try to "agitate for some authority to investigate". However a spokesperson for Tweed MP Neville Newell said no complaints had been received by his office.
One council staffer said employees were reluctant to lodge grievances for fear they would be "set up and sacked" as the Whistleblowers Act did not offer enough protection.
"Honest hard-working employees are sick of their reputations being tarnished by the actions of low-lifes in the organisation and demand things be cleaned up once and for all," the staffer said.
It is understood the scam continued for up to five years, with concrete sleepers allegedly being sold to friends and contractors, and after-hours access to the work site made available to remove the goods.