Cockburn mayor says council ‘safe work place’

City of Cockburn chief Stephen Cain has been off work since last month. Credit: Ian Gillespie/The West Australian
City of Cockburn chief Stephen Cain has been off work since last month. Credit: Ian Gillespie/The West Australian

THE City of Cockburn’s long-serving chief executive has stunningly accused his employer of providing an unsafe work environment but that claim has been countered by the mayor.

In a statement to elected members, which has been kept confidential, Stephen Cain made serious allegations about the City failing to provide him with a safe workplace.

He has been on sick leave since October 23 after providing council with a doctor’s note that stated he was unfit to work.

The council held a special meeting, which was closed to the public, on Monday night to discuss the allegations, and the agenda contained a recommendation to grant Mr Cain special paid leave and request an investigation into his claims.

The City has been tight-lipped on the specific reasons for Mr Cain’s absence and in a statement provided to the Cockburn Gazette, Mayor Logan Howlett refused to say whether the CEO had been granted leave or whether they had approved an investigation at the meeting.

But on 6PR radio today, Mr Howlett said that as the mayor, “I believe that it is a safe work place”.

“I’m not in charge of the administration or that aspect of it.

“Every employee would have a different comment to make on whether the place where they work, where ever that might be, whether it’s safe or not safe.”

The City declined to comment on how long Mr Cain might be on leave, whether he was still being paid and what constituted special paid leave.

Mr Cain, who has served as chief executive since November 2004 and is the second highest-paid council boss in Perth earning between $370,000-$379,999 a year, was initially excused from working until November 8.

According to the special council meeting agenda, any investigation into Mr Cain’s claims will be subjected to legal privilege and will not be released unless council waives that privilege.

Stuart Downing will take on the role of Cockburn’s acting chief executive until further notice.