Bullying in the workplace

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2012 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2012

Public sector cuts have had an unprecedented impact on women, with increasing numbers accepting redundancy and voluntary early severance.

Those women who remain in the workplace are experiencing an increase in bullying behaviour as work pressures mount; unrealistic deadlines are set; performance expectations raised unreasonably and fears and uncertainties about individuals positions increase.

Vulnerable clients are also being placed at risk, with concerns being raised about unsafe working practices due to the cuts.

Unacceptable behaviour and practices are less likely to be reported when workers are fearful of losing their job and do not wish to be perceived as troublemakers or less than totally committed, and bullying behaviour is therefore able to flourish. This is particularly true for LGBT, Black and disabled workers who already experience disproportionate levels of bullying and harassment both in the workplace and in society.

Conference applauds UNISON’s work on dealing with bullying in the workplace, and re-affirms the need for legislation to ensure that all workers are treated with dignity at work; for all human resources staff to be trained in what constitutes unacceptable behaviour; for bullying to be dealt with as a potential disciplinary offence in all workplaces and for workers to have access to counsellors to offer support and advice if needed.

Conference calls upon the National Executive Council to work with the national Self Organised Group committees and Learning and Organising Services to:

1) ensure that training courses (including women-only training) and resources are provided to help members recognise the signs of bullying and to be aware of the actions to take;

2) encourage branches to work with employers to ensure that bullying and harassment workplace policies are adhered to;

3) recommend that every branch has a dedicated steward or branch officer responsible for supporting members to address the problem.