Bully boss cops $60k fine for terrorising apprentices

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
3 Min Read

A Melbourne boss who strung up an apprentice underneath a crane has been convicted and fined $60,000 for “ongoing bullying” on the worksite. 

Steven Yousif, the sole director of Melbourne Glass Solutions Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty in Melbourne’s Magistrates’ Court on Monday to “failing to provide and maintain safe systems of work” for two apprentices in his care.

The court heard stories of Yousif subjecting the carpenters-in-training to physical violence, verbal insults, threats and intimidation between March 2019 and May 2021. 

One of the employees, Ilyas Elkharrazwas, said Yousif “verbally insulted, threatened with dismissal and prevented from attending TAFE courses” several times over his two years on the job.

Elkharrazwas was also harmed physically, including at the Christmas party in 2020, where he was filmed being taped upside down to a crane topless and slapped by a laughing Yousif.

The video was later posted online and circulated on social media. 

As a result of the bullying, the young carpenter now struggles with ongoing mental health struggles, including suicidal thoughts, anxiety, stress, embarrassment, fear and depression.

In an interview with A Current Affair, Elkharrazwas said the Christmas party made him feel “like a piece of meat about to get cut”.

Another apprentice who worked for Yousif for approximately 12 months said he was also left feeling fearful, intimidated and insulted after being subjected to verbal insults, threats of dismissal and prevented from attending TAFE.

WorkSafe investigation into the Tullamarine site last April found that Yousif’s company permitted or failed to stop or reduce bullying conduct and didn’t have any policies in place to protect workers.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said apprentices could be at more of a risk in the workplace because of their inexperience and reluctance to speak up if something is wrong.

“This case is deeply disturbing, not only because of the horrific bullying and violence these apprentices were subjected to, but that it was perpetrated by the one person who should have always had their backs – their boss,” Dr Beer said in a statement.

“Disgusting behaviour like this will simply not be tolerated and it’s up to employers to set the standard and ensure there are policies and procedures in place to prevent, respond and report workplace bullying.”

Upon sentencing Yousif, Magistrate Andrew Sim described his behaviour on site as a “campaign of terror against two vulnerable workers” and handed the bully boss a hefty $60,000 fine. 

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.