March 09, 2010

200 signatures, many more needed...

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to instigate an open enquiry into allegations of workplace bullying / harassment in institutions of higher education and concerns about the way the judicial system has dealt with complaints about such bullying and with those who protest (publicly or otherwise) about wrongdoing by their employers; the enquiry to be conducted with a view to addressing issues of concern that it may uncover.

Workplace bullying is a widespread problem wrecking health and careers and costing billions to the taxpayer. This problem is particularly serious in higher education. A recent survey by the Universities Colleges Union showed that as few as 45.1% of the participants were fortunate enough to never experience bullying.

Existing legislation addresses some aspects of workplace bullying, but does not deal with this problem comprehensively. There is also a perception that the judicial system does not always enforce the existing legislation fairly. Dissatisfaction with the way bullying is dealt with has led some to go public.

In response to the handling of a recent case by the courts, many academics and others expressed their indignation about the bullying that prevails in institutions of higher education, as well as the failure of the judicial system to deal with these problems satisfactorily. Similar concerns have been voiced before.

In addition to the obvious non-pecuniary benefits, addressing the problem of workplace bullying will bring about substantial pecuniary benefits in the form of improvements in the economy and cost savings to the taxpayer.

Sign the petition.


Anonymous said...


This and other websites and blogs show that there is abundant cause for concern about workplace bullying in higher education. However one would expect more signatures in support of this petition.

I have been involved in the preparation of this petition and I would like to see it succeed. Do you have any ideas why we don’t see a higher response rate?

If the reason is lack of publicity, do you have any suggestions how publicity can be improved?

Please give your response to these comments. Your suggestions will be appreciated.


Anonymous said...

'Maybe in cases of workplace bullying we have to learn to read the silence. Why are academics not signing up to this? Whose interests does bullying serve?' - posted on Times Higher blog.

The petition is a fantastic idea and builds on the work that has been done on this blog, the exposure of cases of workplace bullying by Times Higher, and those people of courage like Jenny Robinson who are prepared to speak out about Carl Baybut's death.

I don't know what the answer is - I only know that we are moving forward and I take great pleasure in that fact.

Success in an area such as this will not come overnight - but we are on the right road and standing on the shoulder of giants such as Tim Field and Andrea Adams.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Perhaps UCU could publicize this petition. UCU has a website, a newsletter and plenty of members.

Members of UCU could spread the word via email, maybe use the email list.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

UCU have been informed, but nothing yet...

Anonymous said...

This problem is particularly serious in higher education. A recent survey by the Universities Colleges Union showed that as few as 45.1% of the participants were fortunate enough to never experience bullying.

Australian Detox

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know that UCU have been informed of this petition. Maybe if they continue to ignore it another email can be sent to them asking why there has been no response.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Why are people not signing the petition?

I can tell you why I and at least one other person I know have not signed the petition, even though we have both been bullied/mobbed in our respective UK Russell Group HEIs: Fear of Reprisal. Simple as that. The petition requires real names and in essence the ability to 'out' oneself as a person at least 'interested' in the phenomenon, if not a victim as well. Signing the petition would make powerful statements to academics in our field (we are in the same field, and quite prominent internationally) and it would be tantamount to 'going public' about our situations with possible reprisals from our respective HEIs.

Is it any wonder that some victims of severe bullying/mobbing in the UK are not signing the petition?

I doubt we are alone in this.

Anonymous said...


It seems that there are some academics who find themselves in situations so oppressive as to make them afraid to sign the petition.


Anonymous said...

This petition is for a good cause. If anyone were to challenge your signing it, tell them: