October 04, 2008

Bullying banned in college contract

A new three-year collective agreement covering Ontario's 24 community colleges and more than 7,000 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union includes ground-breaking language on bullying and workplace harassment.

The language, which covers support staff including almost 300 employees at St. Clair College, prohibits "bullying and psychological harassment" and carries penalties ranging from a transfer to another department all the way to dismissal.

Rod Bemister, chairman of OPSEU's bargaining committee, said bullying and psychological harassment "can include, but not be limited to, degrading and belittling staff members, undermining or impeding their work, use of physical gestures and spreading malicious rumours."

"It didn't result from any specific incidents at any of our colleges, although I'm not saying such behaviour hasn't happened, but rather it resulted from our ongoing wellness-in-the-workplace campaign," said Bemister. "We have employee and management committees which meet on a regular basis between contract bargaining and much of the work on the language was already done before bargaining began."

Bemister said other penalties for violating the language include suspension and demotion.

John Strasser, president of St. Clair College, welcomed the bullying and harassment language, saying "neither should be tolerated in any workplace."

Strasser also said "we have an excellent staff at St. Clair and I'm happy we were able to reach an agreement that was accepted by such a wide margin of our employees."

While members of OPSEU turned the deal down at five colleges, it won 82 per cent approval at St. Clair College.

The deal also calls for a three per cent wage increase in each year of the agreement, a special allowance of $425 for every employee with more than six months seniority, improvements in dental, vision care and safety footwear allowances and the addition of Family Day to the list of statutory holidays.

Support staff work in such areas as finance, information technology, maintenance and registration.

From: http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news


Anonymous said...

I'm skeptical about how effective this will be.

At the place where I used to teach, the academic staff association had a code of ethics. Included in that code were statements forbidding the undermining of one's colleagues. That prohibition didn't stop people from harassing each other.

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