May 07, 2007

Pack of Wolves #1

The following writing is based on documents I have come to read, information collected and conversations held with my partner (Salvatore Fiore) or other individuals and is based upon my diary maintained throughout the period from July 2004 to date.

In hindsight, I recognise that the bullying and harassment my partner has endured throughout his two years of employment as a Senior Lecturer in Computing at the School of Computing and IT, University of Wolverhampton, began very early on.

Pack of Wolves #1

Following an invitation letter from Mrs Louise Millard of Personnel Services, University of Wolverhampton dated 05 July 2004, my partner was prepared for a brief introduction, two informal interviews and a presentation for level 2 students in the HCI (Human-Computer
Interaction) area, followed by a formal panel interview in the afternoon.

He was asked to go in a room with other people who had given their presentations when a man, seemingly on the verge of retirement, but with a very erect and imposing posture, entered. He had in his hands, a list of the candidates present, and stated that in the room
were "Dr XXXXX, but it could also be Dr XXXXX", the latter being the name of my partner who did not possess a doctorate and felt annoyed by the unnecessary reference.

This man then asked candidates to leave the room one by one, exiting himself with them each individually and waiting outside the door for a few seconds. After a few candidates had left, he said that he was calling out these people, not because they wouldn't proceed through the selection process and continued the process of calling other people out of the room.

At the end of the call, he told the remaining candidates (including my partner) that they would be proceeding to the final interview and that those just called out would not. This was the moment in which my partner first doubted strongly that this person, Prof. Moreton could be trusted. It was not a game it was a selection process to be carried out with the dignity that people deserve.

During the day, there was also a brief interview with Dr P Musgrove of the School of Computing and IT (who has resulted to be my partner's Line Manager) during which, my partner explicitly discussed that he wanted to consider for the post the application of PBL (problem-based learning) and the teaching pragmatism of John Dewey. In an exchange of comments, Dr Musgrove asked my partner what he would do if people wouldn't accept things of this type. My partner answered that he, of course, would need the support of other individuals in the School.

Later, in the formal interview, a panel composed of K. Bechkoum, H. Grealish, D. Wilson (of the Business School) and Prof. Moreton threw questions at my partner. During this interview, my partner had opportunity to talk of his skills and research. My partner recounted to me his dismay at a very strange remark made by D. Wilson, of the University of Wolverhampton Business School. He asked my partner if he would like to be Dean of the School. Of course, my partner then and now does not ask favours for titles or job positions; nor does he lobby or network to enhance his CV and found the comment most unwelcome, to which he answered, "you need experience to stay in that position". Wilson did not respond to this comment and the interview concluded shortly afterwards.

My partner was first in order of preference with a summary indicating him to be an "excellent candidate". The contractual paperwork was received by my partner shortly aftewards.

On 1st September 2004, my partner started his new job. He was taken around the department and then shown his new office. I saw this office with my own eyes and can witness the disgusting condition of equipment, furniture and the room in general. With the desk crammed under a sloping roof, my partner's chair was broken and unfit for use (it was impossible to rest back on the chair without ending up on the floor). The carpet and all around was filthy, as was the window that could not be seen through. Many appliances including kettles and computers had not been safety checked for years and there was even a bicycle in the room, which was shared with two other academics. The stand-alone air conditioning apparatus was non-functional.

In September/October 2004, all members of staff of the School of Computing and IT as well as some external members were in attendance when all new members of staff were literally asked to stand and present themselves.

When my partner's turn arrived, he did not stand up. It was, of course, the Dean Moreton who asked him with a gesture to stand, at which point my partner rose to present himself.

Soon afterwards, Moreton continued his show and in a rapid succession of words, pronounced two words: "Bloody Italians".

Not one person even offered my partner – obviously the Italian in the room – a glance of disapproval for this remark. Actually, upon leaving the show, he confided his dismay to a colleague who didn't even bat an eyelid and my partner feared from this early point that he was already in the hands of a mob.

Melody Boyce
Phone: 01902 765155 (UK)

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Anonymous said...

Great to have the links between the two sites...

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

does anyone know if it is OK for employees making freedom of information requests/data protection requests to be reported to their academic managers or to the human resources?


Anonymous said...

On what grounds is the person reported? What exactly is the crime? If it is to be held against the person who made the FOI request, would this not constitute (further) victimisation? In what law does it say that it is unlawful to make FOI requests? And if this has happened to you, why not report it as inappropriate? If it can't be raised at your staff appraisal, then it is not worth raising in the first place!

Anonymous said...

the problem is that everytime I report something as inappropriate I am accused of causing problems.

Whatever I do I cause problems in their views!

Anonymous said...

does anyone know if it is OK for employees making freedom of information requests/data protection requests to be reported

The FoI legislation is designed to promote transparency in public affairs, so requests are from the outset not confidential. An employer may certainly seek information from line managers related to the request and has no obligation to keep the request private. But "reporting" the request sounds like it could lead to retaliation, which is illegal, but reporting alone seems merely intimidatory rather than punitive.

My brain is mush this morning and I've spent 20 minutes trying to find the right word for "retaliation" and can't. It is used in the Protection of Employment or Employment Relations Acts. An employer cannot retaliate or act against an employee exercising lawful rights, including the lawful exercise of legal action against the employer.