When I opened the Sunday paper this morning I was more than a little shocked to find this headline: Boss’s ‘oxygen thief’ slur. I was even more taken aback to find that the I knew the offending company very well.
As a former manager at Chubb Security (and one who blew the whistle on this type of behaviour) I find it offensive that the same culture seems to be alive and well. It supports my case that injured workers are often negatively stereotyped as liabilities that aren’t even worthy of breathing the same air as others ( especially boss’s) – this is sad fact confronting too many injured workers.
(Addition: http://workers.labor.net.au/251/news84_bullies.html this provides some of my own history with Chubb and the insurer)
Boss’s ‘oxygen thief’ slur
A CHUBB Security boss was forced to apologise to workers and undergo counselling after circulating an email describing injured cash-in-transit guards as “oxygen thieves”.
But the National Union of Workers believes the punishment is too lenient and have called for him to resign.
The email, written on April 24 and obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, was sent by Chubb’s national security manager Brian Lee.
Mr Lee, a former NSW policeman, was formerly the company’s manager of compliance in charge of workplace ethics. He made the comment in an exchange with a counterpart at Chubb Victoria, who needed to fly a worker to Sydney for weapons testing.
A Chubb spokesman said there was zero tolerance for the disrespectful language.
“Numerous actions (were) undertaken including counselling the manager, a written apology to employees and personal apologies where appropriate and possible,” a Chubb spokesman said. “Employees at all levels are responsible for creating and fostering a culture of ethical business practices.”
He responded the same day, writing: “I have plenty of oxygen thieves, but they can only work limited hours, so I may need to use a couple of them depending on the amount of time needed.”
He then circulated the email to four Chubb supervisors in Sydney, asking them: “Do we have a body and vehicle around who can help?”
Workers were irate over the “oxygen thieves” comment, sticking copies of the email around Chubb offices in protest. The remark referred to guards injured during cash-in-transit robberies or those on restricted duties because of post-traumatic stress disorder.
This includes victims of a $2.6 million robbery at Chubb’s Lane Cove depot in 2009, where Mr Lee is based, when shots were fired at staff and one worker was hit with a rifle butt.
Two guards involved in that robbery have handed in their firearm licences after being traumatised by the ordeal.
“Some of those guys injured in that robbery are still on workers compensation at the depot,” National Union of Workers official Tony O’Donnell said.
“It’s outrageous. To refer to them as ‘oxygen thieves’ is simply disgusting.”
Mr O’Donnell said there was no place for “this kind of management style” and Mr Lee should step down.
“He’s been responsible for instigating heavy disciplinary action against people for like-minded behaviour,” he said.
“Of all the people at Chubb who shouldn’t be carrying on this way, he should be the one.
“An apology isn’t enough. We don’t believe his position is tenable.”