June 19, 2006

National Union of Teachers (NUT) resolution on workplace bullying

NUT on the web. Posted on Site: Tuesday May 2 2006

'Workplace Bullying

Conference acknowledges the negative effects of workplace bullying on a teacher’s career. The persistent criticism of performance, attendance or other personal factors serves to undermine a teacher’s confidence, self-esteem and health.

Conference acknowledges that bullies are usually those in a position of power, head teachers and other senior and line managers. The abuse of this position causes unnecessary stress and suffering to a teacher who may or may not be vulnerable to this abuse. Furthermore, bullying succeeds where individuals are isolated and unsupported.

Conference believes that bullying is best challenged by a collective and organised response, and that union officials and union groups need up-to-date information and a range of strategies to help them eradicate bullying in schools.

Conference recognises the need to strengthen Union organisation at individual school level so that schools may more effectively deal with school health, safety and welfare concerns such as those caused by bullying and harassment.

Conference notes the vital and influential role played by safety advisers in
improving school safety and supporting school safety representatives.

Conference notes that silence serves to perpetuate this deplorable behaviour and believes that all teachers deserve to have dignity at work.

Conference acknowledges that bullying can take other forms including harassment by pupils or other members of staff who are not necessarily in more senior posts. This kind of bullying may particularly affect women, black & minority ethnic, and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual & transgendered staff who have long struggled against discriminatory attitudes.

Conference notes that there are varied reasons for a teacher to be vulnerable, including unjust OFSTED criticisms, poor staff relations and more often than not actually being more competent than the bully themselves.

Conference believes that the constant pressure and criticism from government, local authorities and OFSTED creates unreasonable expectations of schools which, in turn, help to create highly stressful environments in which bullying becomes commonplace. This is exacerbated by the continuing pressure placed upon schools to rise up the increasingly discredited and educationally damaging league tables to which schools are subject.

Conference believes that staff who are attempting to create a healthy work-life balance are often bullied into giving up time and resources beyond that which is reasonable. Staff with carer responsibilities are likely to be unfairly overlooked for promotion and training opportunities. Such staff are often challenged about a perceived lack of commitment to the school. They are also unfairly prejudiced in their attempts to secure management positions in schools.

Conference condemns the growing tide of homophobic bullying in schools and deplores the effect this has on staff and pupils. Conference believes that the tolerance of homophobic and sexist language creates an atmosphere in which people feel undermined, undervalued and despised. Conference congratulates the Union for its work in this field and instructs the Union to further explore ways of building campaign activities in schools.

Conference calls on the Executive to:

1. Build a public campaign to tackle the issue of workplace bullying and force it to be discussed at all levels.

2. Work with other organisations, particularly those with an expertise in this field, and trade unions in developing this campaign.

3. Ensure that all Health and Safety Reps and Advisers have appropriate and thorough training on dealing with issues of bullying in the workplace.

4. investigate (a) to (c) below and implement according to best current practice in the Union and other unions: (a) How safety representatives and safety committees (see Safety representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977) in schools can be most effectively promoted and established as a means of improving school union organisation for the health, safety and welfare of staff. (b) The use of safety representatives and school safety committees as a means of combating stress related to bullying and harassment. c) The impact on the content and provision of health and safety training at local and national level.

5. Ensure that all schools have meaningful and supportive policies to protect teachers from harassment and bullying.

6. Campaign vigorously against aggressive and hostile sickness, absence and capability procedures.

7. Give publicity through Union journals and press releases to significant cases where the Union has intervened successfully to support members who faced bullying;

8. Publicise and promote the benefits of flexible working and less hierarchical
forms of management.'

Are there similar resolutions in existence from our academic union UCU? (UCU = AUT + NATFHE following the recent merger)

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