September 29, 2006

Nottingham Trent University Branch of the University and College Union (UCU)

...This site is designed as an on-line resource on branch matters for use by members of the Nottingham Trent University Branch of UCU (University and College Union) and others interested in our work...

...UCU’s forerunners [AUT and NATFHE] produced an array of papers on the topic of harassment and bullying. Most recently the topic of institutional culture and institutional bullying has surfaced as an issue. At one of the last NATFHE conferences one member from a college in the further education sector gave an impassioned speech on how her college had stripped away the mechanisms of debate, reducing the frequency of staff meetings, reducing staff representation on internal committees and even removing staff representation from the college's governing body. This did not mean that staff were denied information. They were regularly sent in-house magazines and e-mails telling them about the college's achievements but this was not seen as a substitute for dialogue and debate.

At the same time as the college had reduced the mechanisms for debate changes had been made to the rights that the students had. A "Students' Charter" and a new "Students' Complaint Procedure" had been introduced. These initiatives were welcomed by staff and fully supported. However, with a declining resource base and with front line staff unable to voice their concerns it meant that such staff were open to criticism and pressure from every angle and were powerless to see that the concerns being raised by the students were genuinely addressed.

Fear of losing their promotion prospects or even of being dismissed provided additional psychological bonds preventing such staff from speaking out. Work related stress increased as did the number of instances of ill health. Staff were, of course, free to walk away from the situation by resigning and the conference was told that each year many did. However, economic pressures often made this an unrealistic option and many staff did not feel that they should be intimidated into a career change...


No comments: