December 21, 2006

UCU needs to be taken to task...

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous said...

UCU needs to be taken to task over its lack of support for members who are bullied at work. I suggest that Roger Kline is inundated with emails asking him to explain what action he intends to take. He could support me for instance. I took out a grievance in Jan 2006 and the 'support' from UCU has been low key...

[Posted at: UCU discovers workplace bullying through NUS..., in this blog]

Send your emails to: Roger Kline, National head of equality and employment rights, UCU (University and College Union)

'Clarity of purpose and breadth of experience'

With a March [2007] date announced for the election of the general secretary of the newly merged University and College Union, Roger Kline sets out his manifesto...
Wednesday July 5, 2006 - Guardian Unlimited

Above all else, the University and College Union (UCU) needs an effective general secretary. Members will not judge UCU by speeches, mission statements or its logo. They will judge the new union primarily by what practical difference we make to their pay, terms, conditions of work and the educational environment they work in.

Our members are professionals. They choose education as a career in order to impart and pursue knowledge, encourage a love of learning and improve people's life chances.
That is why they wish to influence those aspects of the management culture, governance and priorities of their own institution and the sector that undermine those aspirations.

We have a long way to go. In higher education we have failed to use the recent pay campaign to make up much ground with comparative professions. We face a chaotic market in education that would follow any lifting of the cap on top-up fees...

UCU will be judged by how effectively it challenges these trends and what difference it makes to members' lives
. The new general secretary will need clarity of purpose, a breadth of experience and a commitment to serving the members' interests at all times.

It is too soon to write a manifesto - that will be a collective effort over the next few months, but here are some initial thoughts.

...ensure that the standards we demand of our employers in respect of openness, transparency, governance and, especially, accountability are applied to ourselves...

...use the new statutory equality duties - on race, disability and gender - to challenge discrimination decisively wherever it is found in employment or educational provision...

On my office door is a notice I was given many years ago. It says "
those who wish to lead must first learn to serve". You might wish to judge my service at, the campaign website and decide whether I would be an effective leader of the biggest union of its kind in the world.
We did exactly that. We had a look at, and there is not a single word about workplace bullying in Higher Education. It does not feature in Mr. Kline's key issues, campaign pledge, or politics. Nothing at all.

Obviously the clarity of purpose and breadth of experience does not cover workplace bullying in Higher Education. We have no problem judging the new union primarily by what practical difference it makes to the conditions of work and the educational environment academics work in.

This blog has mentioned a number of cases involving our union's (AUT + NATFE = UCU) pathetic record on workplace bullying. In fact, there seems to be a formulaic response of ignoring or dealing poorly with individual cases of workplace bullying.

Any academic (union member or not) who raises a formal complaint about workplace bullying by senior managers and/or colleagues, is likely to loose his/her job
through a pattern of horrendous, Orwellian elimination rituals, often hidden from the public. Employers seem to have complete disregard for ACAS regulations and complete immunity.

The stereotypical advice from the union to the members is to exhaust all internal procedures - these are very rarely fair and often reminiscent of Stalinist courts.

It is not a coincidence that the Employment Tribunal archives do not list any successful claim regarding workplace bullying from academics. With no union support, how would an individual academic defend him/herself against the employer who pays for a QC to represent them?

In fact, one can develop the following cynical theory: Because workplace bullying is so widespread in academia, if (AUT + NATFE = UCU) were to defend each case, they would need lots of resources and money, so better to ignore it!

Send your emails to: Roger Kline, National head of equality and employment rights, UCU (University and College Union).


Anonymous said...

I agree with the sentiments expressed here and would like to add how the UCU has decided
to discriminate against bullied members who question their judgement which will be
especially important to all ethnic minority members who have complained the most.

In June 2006 the UCU was formed by the merger of the two Unions NATFHE and AUT. Both
unions had their own legal aid scheme which were merged to create the new UCU scheme.
One of the major differences between the new and old scheme is a Draconian change to
clause 5.6 in the new UCU 2006 legal Scheme which has been mentioned on the HERE list by
the CEM where the role of TAC members was questioned in implementation of this rule.

this reads as follows: clause 5.6

"Legal services are not available to a member for the purpose of pursuing a complaint
against the union. In cases where there is a conflict of interest between you and us or
the union reasonably believes there is such a conflict, legal services will not be offered
or will be terminated as the case may be".

This change in the conflict of interest in the new scheme my including between you and
us has been used by the Unions to discriminate against members who question their legal or
professional judgement in regard to what legal services if any they have provided them.
As I questioned their judgement having on five occasions been denied support and been
provided erroneous advice to undermine my case which I won without attending the Tribunal
, I have been denied Union support. I have been informed that of the four people who
applied for legal assistance when the new UCU came into being three have been excuded
using the above clause as the TAC committeee consider there are all in conflict with the
union. The Union could have got round this clause by offering these members independent
external legal advice but have decided to exclude these members for challenging their

I think all members should consider when voting in the UCU elections to find out who
supported this clause and who was involved in drafting and supporting it in the legal
scheme. As bullying is on the increase and has not been challenged by the Union this
clause allows the legal team headed by Michael Scott another avenue to discriminate
against its members apart from hiding being the incompetence clause.

Dr. Claudius D'Silva
Division of Chemistry
School of Biology, Chemistry and Health Science
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Manchester Metropolitan University
John Dalton Building
Chester Street
M1 5GD

Anonymous said...

[Regarding the original posting that UCU needs to be taken to task..., we received the email below]

Dear sir or madam

If you'd be so kind as to identify yourself, your institution, and the
grievance it might be possible to assist. If you don't, I cant.

Best wishes

Roger Kline - RKline@UCU.ORG.UK -

Anonymous said...

I have been in contact with the union at local level since 2003 regarding my case. I spoke again this Thursday morning at 11.30am to Barry Jones - Assistant General Secretary who has a flarge file of documents from when Peter Mitchell was handling the case.

I have been in constant touch with the union seeking their advice.

I would welcome your views when you have spoken to Barry Jones but I do not want my name or institution to appear in this Blog.

I can convey your views to this blog when I hear from you.

Louise Michel said...

We don't think Mr. Kline will visit this blog. Perhaps you should send him an email, which you can also post here but delete your name and othr details from such posting. Time to challenge Mr. Kline. Do you mind taking it up with him?

Anonymous said...

At the moment I am working with the Assistant General Secretarey and we are going to yet another meeting at the institution where I work. I don't want to seem too wimpish but it is hard going remaining in the job and tackling workplace bullying so though I think it is very important to explore the role of the unions in these matters I'm not sure what I can do re Mr Kline.

This blog is just so supportive....

Thanks so much for being there....

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

Don't thank us, please... what you are going through is what we are going through. Names, context, places perhaps are different, but the actions are the same - workplace bullying in academica shares many common characteristics in almost all cases.

Regarding Mr. Kline, we recommend that we need to let him know through emails, as well as others in the leadership of the union.

There is no doubt that the more of us stay silent on the pathetic role of our union, the more they will ignore workplace bullying.

We need to question the apathy of the union on this important issue. Being silent only helps them keep us out of sight.

Anonymous said...

The union likes to remain out of sight and hidden. Their role with regard to workplace bullying is shameful and needs to be exposed. Ask questions of your local reps regarding action they are taking to support members who are suffering fron wpb. What might we expect them to do? What supportinve action might they take?

Anonymous said...

Comment just posted on Sally Hunt's website - will she reply?

There is some reference to workloads etc but no explicit reference to workplace bullying which is rife across HE.

I am interested to know why there is no explicit reference to bullying in your postings on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Checking through Roger Kline's newly organised Blog he seems unable to mention the 'b' word at all... why so fearful?

Anonymous said...

Roger's Frequently Asked Questions does not contain any reference to wpb...

Is it likely that when bullying is rife across HE that there would be no questions about UCU's support for members who are bullied at work?

If Roger is silent on this issue now when he is trying to be elected - what hope is there for UCU members when he is elected?

Why the deafening silence Roger?

UCU members want to know what action UCU are going to take to support members who are being bullied at work?

Anonymous said...

What is your position on workplace bullying?

Put on Sally Hunt's website again tonight.

Anonymous said...

Posted on Roger Kline's website and waiting for a reply......

Roger Kline is cited describing Sheffield Hallam's 'good institutional response' and seems unaware that publication of the Work Survey report was forced on its senior management by the local UCU branch serving a Freedom of Information Order after approximately a year's delay.Perhaps UCU nationally under FOI should request statistics on real institutional actions against bullying managers in universities,including Sheffield Hallam,so that it can measure any genuine commitment to tackle these issues rather than be apparently satisfied with further flannel.

Anonymous said...

put up on Roger Kline and Sally Hunt's blog

This continuous union neglect of an endemic problem in universities is falling behind press exposures, see for example Times Higher 22/29 2006 'Staff report regular bullying'at Sheffield Hallam University, in addition to extensive evidence of unacceptable staff stress levels.This article deserves further circulation on this site, not least given that the senior management there with no sense of shame were recently were crowing about an 'Employer of the Year' award from the same Times Higher whilst trying to conceal the scale of their levels of stress and staff

What is your response to this?

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

They simply ignore us - it would seem so, so far anyway. We wonder how many signatures we can get for a petition...

Anonymous said...

There is something very wrong in institutions that work hard to silence questioning or criticism by diagnosing those critics as mentally ill or firing them. It certainly gives an impression that they have something they desperately wish to remain hidden.

Those engaging in such tactics make a mockery of science and their own institution, abuse their position of power, cause unnecessary suffering to the critic/questioner and intimidate other members so silencing those too.

It is cruel, unethical, unscientic, just plain WRONG, and needs to be exposed.

... posted on Roger Kline and Sally Hunt's blogs - asking them for the Union position on universities silencing of those UCU members who question.

The newly elected General Secretary of the UCU will have power... how do they intend to use that power? support members who are being bullied or to remain silent and refuse to enagage in dealing with wpb

Anonymous said...

When a trade union fails to provide support and access to legal services to a member who is losing their job, livelihood, health and more because of bullying and stress - ie the trade union is failing to meet its legally-binding contractual obligations to the member, for which the member has been paying for years in expectation of support - the sense of betrayal intensifies the symptoms of Complex PTSD. When the trade union official works, or appears to the member to be working, with the employer and against the interests of the subscription-paying member, the sense of betrayal is further intensified. The feeling of emotional and psychological rape is intense. Betrayal and rape produce similarly profound feelings of violation and consequent anger. The unacceptable behaviour of employers, HR departments and trade union officials in colluding with the bully and getting rid of the target fuel an all-consuming sense of injustice to which many people devote their lives to redressing.


posted on Roger and Sally's blog

Anonymous said...

Individual's stories can be very powerful Sally. Do you know any stories about individuals who have been buliied in prestigious research institutions? What kind of ending would you like for these stories? Does UCU have a role to play or is it just a spectator?

posted on Sally Hunt's blog

Anonymous said...


Are you interested in stories about individuals who have been bullied at work?

posted on Sally Hunt's blog

Anonymous said...


Are you interested in stories about individuals who have been bullied at work?

posted on Sally Hunt's blog

Anonymous said...

Roger - I know that you are only interested in collective stories about bullying.. but I thought you might be interested to read the story of an individual that I posted on Sally's website....

Sally - here is a part of someone's story... are you interested in publishing stories like this?

Prolonged negative stress is becoming recognised more and more as a factor in many illnesses/ medical conditions. In my experience many people I have worked with do not even dream of putting themself through what can be the long ordeal of reporting bullying/ harassment. Many people I have worked with have been quite understandably in fear of doing so, and the increased pressure that this may put them under when they are already in a very stressful situation. I however did report it and I cannot imagine why anyone would put themself through this process unless they truly felt they had a genuine complaint. Always at every turn though the bullies have tried to discredit me and have insisted that I provide 'proof'. It seems to me in my situation where it is clear my health has suffered that is a more a case of them proving otherwise against the weight of medical evidence.

I and others at the organisation I work for would not have documented years of numerous bullying and harassment incidents and the effects this has had on health, performance etc. unless it really happened. Neither, I am sure would there have been such a vast increase in complaints, sick leave, resignations and early retirements either. The smaller details all make up the bigger picture.

In my own case I can see looking back that the only way I was able to go to work was to detatch myself from the reality of what was happening, although this was not something I wanted or intended it was the only way at the time as I had to have income. I took very little sick leave until recently but have medical records covering the whole period. The bullies first demanded to see these, they then changed direction stating on more than one occassion their own 'medical' opinions.

I too have my own story with a similar theme?

Do such individual stories of UCU paid up members interest you?

Roger Kline only seems to be interested in collective stories... maybe they are not so harrowing...

Petra Boynton contacted you after her research into bullying was published in the Times Higher in 2005 to say that AUT/UCU members feel that the union colludes with employers...

Did you respond to her?

What did you say?

UCU is part of this story Sally... what is their role?

Anonymous said...

Posted on Sally Hunt's blog because she likes stories....

I just read a story about someone at university who was bullied and tried to commit suicide 8 months ago....


Maybe the bully would be interested to tell us their version...

....probably has a happier ending....

...those victim stories are often so miserable....