Key Points:

Gore District Council is being investigated for harassment and bullying of staff.

Labour Department Invercargill service manager John Pannett confirmed an investigation was under way after formal complaints were laid by four former employees include ex-chief financial officer Doug Walker.

The Southland Times reported today that the complainants had named council chief executive Steve Parry and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks, as well as the council.

They have alleged that Mr Parry caused serious harm by harassing and bullying staff and Mr Hicks failed to investigate complaints made to him by several employees and councillors.

The complainants said the council failed to provide a safe working environment.

Mr Walker, who resigned his post a year ago and lives in London, told the paper the group firmly believed they had suffered workplace harm.

The group were also looking at filing a class action.

He said he was committed to the action and that it would be a sense of justice.

He is also pursuing a personal grievance against the council.

Mr Walker said Mr Parry had turned up at his home in London last year.

He would not be put off by his bullying tactics, he said.

Mr Parry told the paper he had not been threatening or bullying.

He said he had visited Mr Walker in London to get him to retract statements and avoid a complaint being laid with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Mr Parry said he was looking forward to defending any allegations. "Finally, I get to see what these people have been saying around the traps," he said.

He has laid a complaint against Mr Walker, in a private capacity, alleging Mr Walker had breached the institute's code of ethics after his employment with the council.

Mr Hicks said he had no qualms about the culture and work environment at the council.

- NZPA