Metgasco employees from left Richard Shields the External Relations manager, Stuart George the Land Administration officer and managing director Peter Henderson. Photo Jacklyn Wagner / The Northern Star
Metgasco employees from left Richard Shields the External Relations manager, Stuart George the Land Administration officer and managing director Peter Henderson. Photo Jacklyn Wagner / The Northern Star Jacklyn Wagner

Harassment not a gas

COAL seam gas company Metgasco has called for an end to intimidation and harassment of its employees which it claims is being perpetrated by "vigilantes" opposed to the industry.

Company representatives made the call following revelations the wife of Metgasco land administration officer Stuart George received abusive and harassing phone calls at her Casino business following his employment with the company.

Another employee, who asked not to be identified, revealed they were encircled and threatened by about ten people while stopped at a pedestrian crossing in Lismore in their Metgasco signed vehicle. Young children of the employee were in the car at the time.

Mr George, who also serves as a Richmond Valley and Rous Water councillor, said his wife, Margaret, began receiving abusive phone calls shortly after his appointment with Metgasco.

"There were a series of phone calls and they were all very confronting and she was upset about it," Mr George said.

"I am happy to take complaints, I can handle them but they step over the line when they bring the family in.

"They don't have much courage in my books if they are ringing my wife and not me, I haven't had any phone calls."

In the other incident, a Metgasco employee said they were driving in Lismore on a Saturday evening with their young children in a Metgasco signed vehicle.

The employee has a right to personal use of the vehicle as part of their employment contract.

"It was about 8pm and I was coming down Magellan St and the people recognised the name on the vehicle and sang out 'there is Metgasco, let's get them'," the employee said.

"I had to pull up at the pedestrian crossing for them to walk across. They started to surround the vehicle and they were yelling out 'they are the people wrecking our water'."

The employee also said other employees had been confronted or "given the bird" when driving Metgasco vehicles.

Metgasco chief Peter Henderson said both sides of the debate over coal seam gas should behave with "respect and decency".

"There are some people in the anti-coal seam gas movement who believe they are justified in breaking the law," he said.

"But this country does not need vigilantes, and there is no excuse to break the law by intimidating and harassing our employees or people who have a different view."

A spokesman for the Richmond Valley Group Against Gas described the alleged harassment as "appalling".

"That sort of thing goes completely against our group's principles," he said.

"When people are in groups like ours they get together and they agree on a set of common principles which helps to reduce the unfortunate incidents like that.

"We would never condone members of our group undertaking such behaviour."



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