Around 600 western Sydney council workers have walked off the job to protest the sacking of a young apprentice who claims to be the victim of workplace bullying.
Blacktown Council staff from multiple sectors began strike action about 12.30pm on Wednesday in solidarity with the apprentice, known only as Kieren.
After being repeatedly harassed, Kieren became too scared to go to work, the United Services Union said.
The council moved to fire him after questioning his days off.
USU Metropolitan Manager Steve Donley said the council’s subsequent investigation into the bullying claims had been unnecessarily long and had failed to interview 14 of the witnesses the apprentice put forward.
“Blacktown Council does not have a bullying and harassment policy, so we’ve advised from the start this matter needed to be investigated externally,” said Mr Donley.
“The Council could simply move the apprentice to another shift and monitor his performance, but instead he’s been callously sacked,” Mr Donley said.
The USU called on the council’s general manager Kerry Robinson to reinstate the apprentice, and implement a bullying policy “to ensure Blacktown Council is a safe place to work”.
Blacktown City Council warned residents the stoppages would affect garbage collection on Thursday.
The council reassured the public it was doing everything within its power to resolve the issue.
“We have lodged the matter with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission seeking a determination,” it said.
The workers will hold a meeting on Thursday morning to address how long the industrial action will continue.