June 20, 2007

Ask Boris

Boris Johnston is the opposition (Conservatives) spokesman on Higher Education. Some may argue that it is futile to make aware and remind Boris of the real costs of workplace bullying in Higher Education. We think it is our duty to remind all in public positions including politicians of all parties, about the impact of workplace bullying.

In particular, since the Conservatives are to articulate their policies on a number of fronts, it may be opportune that we ask them about their policies on workplace bullying. In the case of Boris, we need to – politely and with facts – ask him to comment on his stance on workplace bullying in Higher Education. It is imperative that we are precise, polite and factual. Boris needs to become aware and not alienated.

Boris runs an online forum on Higher Education, with a section titled ‘Ask Boris’. You will need to sign in and get a password to post a question. We suggest that you ask him – online - about his stance on workplace bullying in Higher Education. Alternatively, you may wish to email Boris with your questions on workplace bullying in Higher Education, or write to him at: Boris Johnson MP, Constituency Office, 8 Gorwell, Watlington, OX49 5QE

Here are some pointers that you may wish to quote or refer to in your communication with Boris:
  • ...Workplace bullying contributes to a total loss of 18 million working days every year in the UK. This equates to a cost of around £2 billion each year to UK industry...

  • ...Some of the costs of behaviours associated with workplace bullying have been identified. In the United Kingdom, Hoel, Sparks and Cooper (2001) estimated that workplace bullying absenteeism contributed an extra 18 million lost working days annually. By contrast, Rayner, Hoel and Cooper (2002) argues that costs are rarely estimated reliably but rather are lost in the daily activities of those who are required to deal with the problem. As such, the true costs remain unaccounted for… there is a lack of research quantifying the impact workplace mobbing has on organisations. Such a model would need to account for the hidden costs such as client and industry perceptions, investor confidence, and loss of knowledge capital. Generally, only the obvious organisational impacts are considered such as absenteeism, turnover and productivity…

  • ...The company where mobbing occurs may suffer damage not only to its image but also to its finances. An evaluation by the International Labour Office has found that psychological harassment costs about EUR 150,000 a year in a company with 1,000 employees. Moreover, some researchers have found that a mobbing victim has a reduced working performance (by 60%) and an increased cost for the company (by 180%)...

  • ...A recent ACAS study highlighted how claimants dismissed as “futile” internal grievance procedures aimed at resolving disputes within organisations. Complaints were made about how the submission of a grievance by an employee was often triggered by disciplinary action by employers and how they could work against achieving a satisfactory resolution; it was also thought to be difficult to find colleagues to represent them, that there were often unnecessary delays and the involvement of unsuitable managers who, in a number of cases, were felt to have been complicit or active in the original discrimination experience...

  • ...“I’ve just heard from over 800 people in an online survey and additional 400+ people in emails all telling me about their bullying experiences in higher education. These are academics and academic-related staff who’re facing regular abuse within their workplace…” Dr Petra Boynton research.

  • ...There are five stages. First is ostracism, to cut the victim off from influence and support. Second is administrative harassment, often in petty ways. Then comes the incident, an action by the victim that can trigger formal retribution. The fourth stage covers the various appeal procedures and the final stage is elimination...

  • ...At a time when academia needs to serve the knowledge economy in an innovative manner, the inaction, unwillingness to act, and fear to act against bullying from the boss within the organization is a sad commentary on the academy. The prevalence of bullying within academia is of concern. As noted by Czernis (2005), “respondents to The Times Higher survey had worked at their jobs an average of seven years and reported bullying as lasting typically from two to five years, suggesting academic staff who completed the survey spent a large proportion of their working lives being bullied”. This is a tragedy. The human loss in potential and the organizational loss in possibilities are and should be intolerable...

  • ...Over two thirds (68%) of staff surveyed at Leeds Metropolitan University (LMU) have suffered stress because of bullying from their managers. A similar number (67%) said they had become angry as a result of how they were treated and over three fifths had lost sleep (62%) or become anxious (61%)...

  • ...Leaked survey at Sheffield Hallam reveals 'disturbing' fears of victimisation, high stress and sub-par performance in many areas of work that require 'urgent action'. Phil Baty reports Almost 100 members of staff at Sheffield Hallam University have reported being bullied "always, often or sometimes" in an internal survey leaked to The Times Higher...

  • ...In some cases when academics sue for wrongful dismissal, they reach a settlement with the university that includes a payment to them only upon acceptance of a silencing clause, namely a settlement condition that restricts future public comment about the case. Silencing clauses are potent means for cover-up...

2 comments:

Someone who makes allegations according to the honorable lot said...

A response from the data protection officer at a university on why he is refusing to disclose information:

"I re-iterate that the way to protect the public interest is through the University’s procedures."

Self policing is the only way to protect the public's interest!

Anonymous said...

It is particularly important to raise awareness of wpb across a range of fronts - particularly as the support from UCU, in my experience, is almost non- existent.

I have found the union - UCU - to be cynical and manipulative. Indeed my most recent dealings with UCU left me in a state of shock. I could not believe what was happening.

However we need care. The cat and mouse game - that is played with those of us who have the courage to stand against practices that we believe to be bullying - is terrifying...

... perhaps even worse than the bullying that we endured in the first place....

Facts are what are needed for Boris - even though one is crying out with pain...

Aphra Behn