Bargaining against the bullies

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2013 National LGBT Conference
2 August 2013

Conference notes with concern the rise in bullying and harassment in the workplace as a predictable consequence of cuts to public services. Increasing budgetary pressures lead to top down pressure on managers to achieve greater output from an increasingly over-stretched workforce. Bullying and harassment of staff follows all too often.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) tenth biennial safety representatives’ survey, published in November 2012, highlights that bullying and harassment has become an even more widespread concern, listed as a top-five concern by 41% of safety representatives. Just as worryingly, ‘violence and threats’ is now the ninth most commonly cited hazard in the survey, with some 20% saying it’s an issue.

Commenting on the survey, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Fears about how austerity is affecting peoples’ jobs and their families is having a real impact on the health and well-being of UK workers. As jobs are cut, so the workload of those left behind increases. As the workload rise so do the stress levels of over-worked employees, which lead to a greater risk of bullying and harassment as stressed-out supervisors take out their frustrations on staff.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers can find it particularly difficult to stand up to bullying and harassment at a time when our jobs are often the first to be cut.

Conference reaffirms that everyone is entitled to work in a safe environment, free from intimidation or abuse. There can be no justification, including reasons of budgetary pressures, for bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Conference therefore calls on the National LGBT Committee to:

1. Revise and update our LGBT bargaining factsheets so issues of bullying and harassment are fully included and develop new factsheets where necessary;

2. Urge regional and branch LGBT groups to encourage branches to revisit workplace bullying and harassment policies to ensure they are bi and trans inclusive;

3. Promote safe ways of reporting bullying and harassment to our LGBT members;

4. Seek to ensure all UNISON’s materials and training on tackling bullying and harassment are inclusive of LGBT members’ experiences;

5. Promote UNISON’s workplace representation of members experiencing bullying and harassment as a recruitment tool, strengthening our local organisation against the bullies.