Bullying and Young Members

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Conference
2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
Date
25 February 2016
Decision
Carried as Amended

Conference recognises that the cuts in local government are adding to the already high levels of overwork. Staff are being asked to carry a heavier workload due to the reduction in staffing levels but continuing and sometimes increasing demands for services. In many councils the number of managers has been reduced with remaining managers expected to manage more staff as well as multiple workplaces and services that they may have no professional background in. Support staff have been cut and so the workers and managers are often trying to undertake tasks that they may not have the skills to perform effectively. All these factors contribute to the increasing levels of workload stress.

As many studies have shown these increasing workload pressures and stress are likely to increase the incidences of bullying in the workplace and the development of bullying cultures perpetrated by managers who are pressed to deliver results without adequate resources, staffing levels or support. Therefore conference believes that the Service Group Executive should recognise that bullying will be a major issue for local government branches in the future. As an issue that impacts directly on members it will also be an opportunity for recruitment and organising.

Conference recognises that bullying is related to power in the workplace and so some members are more likely to experience bullying. In a recent survey conducted by the Scottish Young Members Committee it was found that 75% of our young members had experienced bullying and harassment of some variety. 7% of the 75% had experienced violence in the workplace.

Conference also notes that over 50% of these cases were not reported. The most common answer to why was that our members did not know what was classed as bullying and harassment. Where cases were reported only 5% received any support.

The health implications for our young members experiencing bullying and harassment are wholly negative. They include mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression as well as physical problems such as headaches, stomach and skin conditions. These lead to periods of long term sick and a number of our young members have even contemplated or attempted suicide.

Conference welcomes the publication of the Scottish young members committee’s bullying and harassment campaign document ‘Gonnae No Dae That’ and its guide for young workers which aims to raise awareness of the issues and provide details of how UNISON can help and support them.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:-

1)Make bullying in the local government workforce a campaign issue as part of the raising awareness of the impact of the cuts;

2)Produce guidance that can assist branches to negotiate effective policies to both minimise bullying and to tackle it when it occurs;

3)Encourage the sector committees to raise with the employers the importance of tackling bullying in the workforce, particularly bullying cultures that can develop due to workload pressures and unrealistic demands made on and by managers and the need to ensure that young workers have a safe working environment.