April 26, 2007

UCU publishes motions for Congress - Bullying on the agenda

By Debbie Andalo, Tuesday April 24, 2007. EducationGuardian.co.uk

The privatisation of university services and the problem of bullying in higher education will come under the spotlight at the inaugural congress of the University and College Union (UCU) next month.

Issues around academic freedom and cuts in adult education have also been included in motions to be discussed by the 400 delegates expected to attend the three-day event in Bournemouth which starts on May 30.

...The union's joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "The first congress will set the tone for the largest post-16 education union in the world, and really allow us to start working to represent our vast membership."

The UCU was formed in June last year following the merger of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe).
From: Univesity and College Union (UCU)

Topic: Inaugural UCU Congress, 30 May - 1 June 2007: First report of the Provisional Congress Business Committee including motions submitted

Summary: Motions submitted for debate at the inaugural meeting of UCU Congress and Sector Conferences to be held 30 May – 1 June 2007 in Bournemouth

Catherine Wilkinson, senior administrative officer cwilkinson@ucu.org.uk;

Paul Bennett, national official pbennett@ucu.org.uk; (Note: Paul Bennett will be out of the office until 18 April)

'...Congress recognises that bullying and harassment are particularly likely to affect women, LGBT, BME and disabled members, hourly paid members and other members who are perceived as vulnerable. While it is recognised that UCU may have to advise, support and represent both sides in this type of case, it is particularly important that the person alleging bullying and harassment, particularly when a woman, LGBT, BME or disabled person is given the best possible advice, support and representation and feels that they are taken seriously.

Congress instructs the NEC to issue advice on handling of bullying, harassment and violence against women and minority group members and recommendations for policy measures to prevent it...'

OK, so the 'Congress' asks the 'NEC' (National Executive Committee) to 'issue advice'... Further down we read:

'Bullying in post 16 education (Bradford College). Congress notes:

1. surveys indicating growing management bullying in education, often related to workloads, restructuring, marketisation, and management aims to boost productivity;
2. huge costs in terms of staff turnover, sickness and burn-out where managers ignore the work/life balance and fail in their duty of care to staff;
3. bullying is not an individual’s problem but the responsibility of the institution to stop and the union to resist.

Congress resolves:

1. to launch a major training campaign for UCU members and reps to fight bullying and harassment;

2. to organise a national conference on bullying and harassment;

3. to encourage UCU branches to collectivise anti-bullying action in post-16 institutions by:

a. organising bullying and harassment surveys;
b. negotiating anti-bullying policies and making them work through regular monitoring and training;
c. where this fails, organising collective responses including the declaration of collective disputes and ballots for strike action.'

Further down we also read:

'Equality in universities (Northumbria University)

Congress notes with concern the lack of priority given by UK universities to equality issues. and how the impact of the neo-liberal agenda, globalisation and increased managerialism has led to increases in bullying, harassment and stress in academic staff.

We are particularly concerned that
- many universities have not fully implemented the legal requirement for a Race Equality scheme, i.e. have not carried out Race Equality impact assessments
- the Stonewall Diversity champions table suggests a lack of attention to LGBT issues in many Universities.

Congress is asked to support:
- the election of an Equality Officer in every UCU Branch
- a national network of UCU Equality Officers with an annual conference and regular training sessions
- an audit of bullying and harassment in Universities
- equality being raised with the national employers with the demand for an urgent review of the issue in universities.'

And we continue reading - further down:

'Bullying (Nottingham Trent University, Clifton)

Sector Conference notes that Bullying is a seriously damaging problem within HEI’s. It can occur in a wide variety of different ways between managers, employees and/or students. When bullying occurs it often results in poor performance, stress, sickness absence and leaves very unpleasant feelings for the people directly involved. Bullying is certainly not needed in any educational institution and should not be tolerated in any form whatsoever.

Therefore Conference resolves that awareness training should be provided by both the institutions themselves and within UCU. Also,that harassment procedures exist within all HEI’s to deal effectively with this serious issue. Furthermore UCU should ensure that policies and procedures on this topic are disseminated widely and effectively across the sector within a high profile campaign to increase awareness of the damaging effects caused.'

With some disbelief, we continue reading...

Workplace bullying (University of Birmingham)

Conference notes the growing incidence of alleged workplace bullying in HE institutions, often associated with RAE outputs, unreasonable research, teaching and administration targets, erosion of accountability and transparency in university governance, and unaccountable and reprehensible practices in management, recruitment and promotions.

Conference welcomes the 2006 House of Lords ruling on the case of Majrowski v Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust, which will make it easier for an employee to bring a bullying-related claim against his/her employer under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and obtain damages for anxiety caused by the harassment, and any financial loss resulting from it.

Conference instructs Executive to issue guidance on the implications of this important case to all regional officials, LA/branch committees and personal casework officers.

Conference further instructs Executive to work with UCU's Legal Office to bring cases before the courts for work-related bullying in HE institutions.'

We are speechless... but we keep reading:

'Stop Bullying in Higher Education (Kingston University) - HE Sector Conference.

Kingston University calls upon the UCU to organise a national campaign against Bullying in Higher Education.

This should include:
  1. code of conduct to be sent to all UCU members which should inform our conduct towards fellow members;
  2. agreement of a new national UCU Anti-Bullying Policy which branches can use in negotiations with local employers;
  3. management should ensure that staff are provided with a clear alternative channel of complaint if they prefer not to raise the matter with their Head of Department;
  4. a demand that employers record, monitor and review bullying complaints and the outcome of bullying cases on an annul basis. That this information should be shared with the local UCU branch;
  5. that employers review their anti-bullying training for senior staff and require all senior staff to regularly attend such courses.
Some brief comments on the above:

Lots of encouraging rhetoric - 'Why did it take so long?' one can ask. But then again, we are up and running now... One small step towards the right direction, perhaps the start of many more significant steps...We support what is proposed. It is in many ways a vindication that bullying is firmly on the agenda of the inaugural congress of the UCU. We are looking forward to the outcomes.


Anonymous said...

This is certainly a contrast to the silence from Sally Huint that surrounded wpb during the election campaign.

All the members of UCU who are suffering from wpb will welcome this move.

Hopefully UCU are recognising that...

...bullying can kill. It is not a sport to be indulged in for fun.

...bullying is expensive - all the days taken off for stress related illness. Public funds should not be used to allow academics to indulge in bullying. Money is needed for research and teaching - why waste it on bullying?


...bullying must be taken seriously when members approach local and regional UCU staff and describe their experiences...

Research by Petra Boynton in 2005 suggests that this has not been the case.

In solidarity.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

I suggest that all UCU members who believe that they are a target of bullying contact their local rep and ask them to submit a motion to congress re wpb.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Some days I just want to walk into my prestigious research university and stand in the foyer and shout at the top of my voice


but I don't...

...instead I beam at everyone...

There are other ways of dealing with bullying...

which are more hopefully more effective...

... but just some days..

... I feel I can't bear it any more....

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...










Aphra Behn

Stuart said...

An audit to quantify bullying - can this be the routine publication of stress-indicators? Every well-run institution should be able to compile, without great effort, information about fixed-term contract status, staff turnover, long-term sick leave, number of bullying / harassment complaints, lawsuits or employment appeals and legal costs.

Anonymous said...

The motion to congress from Bradford...

Bullying is not an individual’s problem but the responsibility of the institution to STOP and the UNION to resist.

Well said... bullying happens because people know they can get away with it...indeed they may even be promoted for bullying....

Well done all those reps who organised these motions.

Aphra Behn.

Anonymous said...

Tell Sally,

This will be another wish wash of UCU exactly like contracts, staff development etc. etc. etc.

The bullies now will get wish washed in the Union action (don't forget that Sally Hunt was clearly speaking of favouring performativity in the work-place and was stigmatizing the left wing of the workforce in HE during the election campaign) otherwise the extent of the scandal would be traumatic for the British public.

Look at the consumption of anti-depressants: why up to this point?

Look at the amount of sickness: why up to this point?

Look at the suicides in HE: why up to this point?

Look at the fact that we haven't had any Panoramas or undercover investigations from the media in HE: why up to this point?

Look at the extent of the corruption for interviews and job positions: why up to this point?

Where were the Unions then? They were exactly there and nobody was saying or doing too much. They are going to take us for a ride once again. Policies and the rest were already in place and still are, alongside with the rhetoric whilst sickness, depression, resignations and bullying were and still are rising.

They will still be there and now they are asking for your support in washing their dirty hands. Pour water ... my friend ....pour water....!

Unions knew very well from a long time and are going to reshuffle the seats among their friends.

At the same time no names are publicised, no convictions are given but a lot of anti-depressants will still be sold.

Bullying cannot be tackled with a simple conference or congress.
This will only institutionalise the continuous collusions with the HE mangement.

Why not a criminal law for the bully then is demanded by the largest-mega-galactic-super-organized-research-based-democratic-Union UCU? (Of course, criminal law for rape, sexual advances/assaults etc. etc. etc., but not for depression or for the scars in your brain taken for life).

Tell Sally ...... go to Italy and learn something from the Unions (even the smallest formed by 5/10 people) and spend your Union fee on better things.

Salvatore Giulio Fiore

BTW: It is typical in Italy that Unions will not be able to give speeches in public for the disruption made by their own members as soon as they make mistakes. The signals are direct and blatant for everybody to understand. Tell Sally this too... tell Sally.

Anonymous said...

Can you hear this Sally?

We hear the silence of our union?

We read that silence.

Aphra Behn

stressedoutprof said...

Our union has been silent and behaved as if it were entirely powerless by failing to come to the aid of a member in need, who is an alleged victim of criminal witness intimidation.

The victim and partner was supposedly subjected to threats at the hands of a senior manager after they filed an employment tribunal claim, and after they discovered that the employer's internal grievance process was not being conducted in an impartial manner.

Could the Union be working in tandem with management to silence employees who know too much?

Sally, please tell us what's really going on here!

helpussally said...

I heard that HSE were informed about widespread stress/bullying related sick leave cases at Kingston University. They supposedly said they had no powers of enforcement. Why is that? Has our government failed us, once again? Or did someone at Kingston put a stop to the investigation? What really happened? Did a member of staff really die from a 'suicide?' Or did that person know too much or maybe refuse to help out in the cover-up?