June 30, 2007

Conducting Investigations

The way in which any investigation is conducted will be a key element in the success of your dignity at work strategy – there is no point in introducing a comprehensive policy, training a network of harassment advisers and communicating widely and successfully if you do not have good, fair and transparent procedures for conducting investigations into complaints.

Such investigations are very sensitive and there should be procedures separate from your normal disciplinary and grievance procedures to investigate such complaints, using people who have had specific training in investigating bullying and harassment complaints. You should bear in mind that many complainants and witnesses will be fearful not simply about the outcome but about any repercussions of making the complaint in the first place and they should be reassured that the institution will protect them and make every effort to deal effectively with the aftermath and minimise trauma after the investigation has taken place and the outcome is known.

Therefore you should consider:

• Providing compulsory training for investigators and panel members;

• Ensuring that the investigation is conducted by two people, to gain the maximum benefit from the interviews. If you have investigators who are relatively new, try to team them with someone who has a lot of experience.

• Dealing with complaints in a sensitive, objective manner, respecting the rights of all parties involved;

• Keeping all the participants, including the witnesses, well briefed about the process and ensure that everyone involved is aware of how the findings will be communicated. Ensure that both the accused and the complainant are aware of what information they will receive at the conclusion of the investigation.

• Maintaining confidentiality – this is particularly important in a small institution, where the parties are likely to be well known to many other employees;

• Ensuring that complainants and witnesses are fully protected from victimisation. It is not sufficient to state in your policy that those concerned will be protected – you must have robust systems in place to ensure that this actually happens in the event of an allegation of bullying or harassment.

• Using open questions to elicit the facts of the case and ensure that all questions are as neutral as possible. In particular, try to avoid questions that appear to allocate blame, which will make the respondent overly defensive and will obscure the facts.

• Concluding the proceedings within a reasonable timescale;

• Making every effort to ensure, if possible, that the investigatory team and the panel are balanced in terms of race, gender, etc (this is particularly important in cases where sexual/racial harassment are at issue). Members of the Investigatory team and panels should also include staff from all levels of the institution and represent both support and academic staff.

From: Dignity at work, a Good Practice Guide for Higher Education Institutions on Dealing with Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace.
We were recently told by an 'independent' HR Consultant that advises a higher education institution, that the above is only 'good practice' and not a legal requirement. No wonder bully institutions and/or managers get away with so much...

June 29, 2007

Where the bullied fight back

Published: 22 June 2007, Times Higher Education

Vice-chancellors beware. A blog for bullied academics (http://bulliedacademics.blogspot.com) has launched a new award scheme, Divestors of People. It explains that the award “is a standard awarded to higher education institutions that excel in mismanaging, bullying and harassing their staff”. The criteria include: management strategies that promote cronyism, incompetence, favouritism or inequality; demoralised, de-skilled or demoted staff in a toxic working environment; internal grievance procedures being used selectively by managers against staff. Those nominating can remain anonymous. Institutions qualify for the award if they meet at least 50 per cent of the criteria listed on the site, and this can be verified by at least two staff.

June 28, 2007

The ritual continues... one more story...

Anonymous said:

I have been bullied since XXXX, have been off sick many months in all and am still being bullied. Many laws and codes of conduct have been violated in the process, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and RAE Code of Practice being only two of them. In the past, bullied employees had to try to prove sex or race discrimination, which is difficult. However, since the cases of William Majrowski and Diana Green in 2006, it should be easier to sue employers under the Prevention of Harassment Act 1997.

Most academic bullying is connected with the distribution of public money. In my case this involves not just internal but also external funding. My ordeal started with the arrival of a new XXXX who became Chair of XXXX and, later, head of XXXX and Director of XXXX. His closest friend was recently made a Fellow of the XXXX XXXX after being named as a super chair for XXXX XXXX, and has been put in charge of all post grads in the university.

In 19XX this person lied to me about a referee for a proposed funding application of mine to the body of which he is now a Fellow when he was (unbeknown to me) himself an applicant for the award about which, as Research Dean, he should have been advising me. His comments dissuaded me from applying. He gained the award in 19XX and was given two years' internal research leave on top of the two he got from the external body. Despite this he has not completed the research (just as he never completed a PhD or similar project). I have repeatedly been intimidated by him and others over his lie. The interests of undergrads and post grads dependent on my teaching and supervision have been put at risk.

This person also manipulated internal research funding to promote his own field while blocking the work that I wished to submit to the RAE (which is a known international desideratum). His friend, the VC, adjudicated on my case. I was also lied to by another Fellow of the XXX XXX about external referees for an internal Chair for which I had applied.

Eventually, I gained a XXXX XXXX, the only one for a single-authored project in my field that year, but I was restricted by my institution to a one-year Fellowship although I could have had two years for the same money. By then I had been off sick with stress twice. The amount of material that I discovered in one year meant that I needed two years. However, there was decided reluctance to see me finish for RAE XXXX. This, and the concomitant intimidation, caused me to be off sick a third time.

When I returned to work, the bullying worsened. I was told that I must not complain and must carry out my teaching. I was even told that it was BECAUSE of the RAE that I was not being given completion time, and that if this caused me stress I would have to retire.

I was also made to wait longer than usual for an internal research term. When I queried this I was accused of harassing the Head of School (the man who got the Chair for which I had applied) and received a letter from HR saying that I should take ill-health retirement (although I was not off sick) or see the Head of School about my fitness to remain in post. The leave that I had queried was being given to the HoS's own research collaborator and the HoS proposed to judge his own claim of harassment against me for querying this.

When he finally summoned me three days before my birthday, he bullied me again over my querying the leave and tried to pressure me into retiring. On XX XXXX he denied that he had done this, and instead sought to push me to complete my research in a short time, despite knowing that I had suffered stress. He said that he was concerned about completion, but has not shown concern about the non-completion of the former Research Dean's project. He also said that I should not have research students or postdocs or apply to the funding body of which the ex-Research Dean is a Fellow. I wonder if he knows that the applications will be blocked. At the end of the meeting he attempted to trick me into agreeing with a proposition restricting my future right to research leave and then asked HR to send me a letter about this. As I would be competing directly with him for research time, this is a third conflict of interests on top of all the previous ones.

When I wrote to the then General Secretary of AUT, XXXX XXXX, in 2000, he did not fulfill his legal duty to help me, but attacked me in writing. At the time I was off sick for the second time and had suicidal ideation. When I was off for the third time in XXXX I wrote to Charles Clarke. He replied that he could do nothing - and appointed the ex-VC of whose unfairness I had complained as Head of a body concerned with student finance, describing this as a 'good appointment'. In XXXX I complained to Lady Blackstone, whereupon the ex-VC, who had destroyed my career was appointed to review careers' services at all UK universities.

Thus the response to my complaints of bullying has been victimisation, accompanied by promotion and rewards for the bullies. This leads me to conclude that not just HE, but the whole shebang is corrupt. As bullying at the top of HE has been rewarded at the top (the ex-VC has been knighted, is Chancellor of a local university, and is in charge of XXXX) it is not surprising that bullies in HE behave badly: they know that it is a sure route to success
They are a law and a state upon themselves... no real accountability so they can make it up as they go... who will hold them responsible? Certainly not the union or Charles Clarke or Alan Johnston or even Boris... and so the ritual continues. Good academics victimised because of the insecurity and incompetence of vain managers with little or no people-skills.

Institute of Education Director Faces Tribunal Case - UK

It looks set to be one of the most high-profile — and embarrassing — personal disputes the usually tranquil world of education research has ever seen. Geoff Whitty, the director of the Institute of Education, is set to face public allegations of sex discrimination from one of his most senior ­colleagues.

Loreto Loughran was pro-director of the IoE until she walked out last month in protest against her alleged treatment after 13 years’ service. She has confirmed through her lawyers that she has issued employment tribunal proceedings against Professor Whitty for both sex discrimination and constructive dismissal.

Dr Loughran worked closely with Professor Whitty for the seven years during which the professor has led the IoE, in her role as pro-director, as well as in her previous role as academic registrar.

In a statement released to The Times Higher this week, Stephen Taylor, of solicitors Coyle White Devine, who is representing Dr Loughran, said: “She has issued a claim in the employment tribunal against both the Institute of Education and its director, Professor Geoffrey Whitty, alleging constructive dismissal and sex discrimination.

“Dr Loughran, who was the pro-director (international) and previously the academic registrar and deputy secretary, walked out of the institute on May 11 after over 13 years’ service. No further comment will be made at present.”

The IoE said in a statement: “The Institute of Education can confirm that Dr Loughran resigned from her position as pro-director (international) on Friday, May 11, having brought an unsuccessful grievance against the director of the institute. Subsequently she has commenced proceedings in an employment tribunal.

“Dr Loughran’s grievance, together with a subsequent ap­peal, were heard and dealt with in a comprehensive and professional manner in accordance with the institute’s policies and procedures. Both the grievance and the appeal were dismissed.

“The institute is confident that Dr Loughran was given a full and fair opportunity for her grievance to be considered and regrets that she chose to leave her position at the institute rather than taking up the offer of mediation that was available to her.
Dr Loughran’s long-standing experience in international relations in higher education will be missed by her former colleagues at the institute.”

The dispute will be highly embarrassing for Professor Whitty. He is currently a specialist adviser to the Education and Skills Select Committee, chair of the British Council’s Education and Training Advisory Committee, president of the College of Teachers and president of Bera, the British Educational Research Association.
He has directed a number of Economic and Social Research Council-funded research projects on the impact of education policies, such as the assisted-places scheme, city technology colleges and changes in initial teacher education.

The 105-year-old IoE is one of the world’s most prestigious centres for research, teacher training, higher degrees and consultancy in education and education-related areas of social science

From: Times Higher Education
The institute is confident that Dr Loughran was given a full and fair opportunity for her grievance ... and pigs fly!

June 26, 2007

Commission for Racial Equality censures University of Birmingham

PRESS RELEASE from Birmingham University and College Union - Tuesday 26th June 2007 - For immediate release

Commission for Racial Equality censures University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is now the first university in England to be reported to the Department for Education for failing in its legal Race Equality Duty. Last week the Birmingham University branch of the University and College Union received a copy of a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Michael Sterling, from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). The letter states that the University has failed to show it has met its legal Race Equality Duty and that it has failed to respond to previous letters from the CRE. Six pages of damning criticism detail the failures of the University Senior Management to meet their legal duty to promote race equality.

Vice Chancellor "running out of time" to comply

The Vice Chancellor was given a 21-day ultimatum to meet a series of demands, or further action may follow from the CRE. He must now:

* agree to revise the University's Race Equality Policy and Action Plan and give details of how the University will meet the CRE's requirements;

* disclose the CRE's criticisms to the University's supreme body, the Council, which meets on July 4th;

* agree a compact with the UCU over proposed course closures.

The letter is dated June 6th, but as yet the University has failed to approach the UCU to begin discussions that could lead to a compact. Dr. William Edmondson, Vice-President of BUCU, said "The University now has only a few days left to comply with the CRE letter. They are running out of time."

"Institutional racism" in targeting black academics for redundancy

Last November the UCU accused the University of Birmingham of "institutional racism" for disproportionately targeting ethnic minority academic members of staff in the School of Education for redundancy. The University decided to withdraw from long-established courses in Community, Play and Youth work (CPY), claiming that they no longer fit with the strategy of the University. The UCU pointed out that this move threatened the jobs of 5 out of only 7 ethnic minority academic staff in the School of Education. The University failed to meet its legal obligations for genuine consultation and failed to consider fully the potential impact of the course closures on race equality issues. The UCU complaint to the Commission for Racial Equality over the CPY closure plans led to the current threat of legal enforcement action against the University. Last December, following a flood of complaints from supporters of the CPY courses, the Vice Chancellor assured local MPs that the University had acted within the law.

Peter Hick, UCU representative in the School of Education said today:

"Staff across the University and within the School of Education work hard to develop good practice in teaching and research around race and diversity issues. It is unacceptable that Senior Management should be so complacent about race equality issues that the Commission for Racial Equality has to inform the Minister at the Department for Education that the University is apparently failing in its legal Race Equality Duty. The Vice Chancellor owes an apology to staff in Community, Play and Youth Work for the shabby way they have been treated.

"The University is currently going through a major reorganisation, and this presents an ideal opportunity for a step change in the way it deals with race relations issues. Birmingham is shortly to become one of Britain's first major cities with a majority non-white school-age population. The University of Birmingham should be working towards best practice in race equality, instead of having to be dragged reluctantly into the 21st century."
Is this university one more candidate for the 'Divestors of People' award/standard?

Identifying the work place psychopath

One of the anachronisms of the 21st century is that although we pride ourselves on our modern institutions, in many Australian workplaces the Dickensian bully still strides the corridors of power.

Workplace bullies are not an isolated phenomenon. When John Howard’s WorkChoices legislation was introduced into parliament in 2005, the Prime Minister suggested there was one in every office.

“If you’re living in a small business environment, you’ve got, say, five or eight people in an office or a workshop, and one of them is a pain in the neck and is making life difficult for everybody else, it’s workers in many cases more than the boss that would like to see the back of him,” Prime Minister Howard said.

This article goes further than the “pain in the neck" definition of the workplace bully. It examines the bully as psychopath with their extraordinary ability to adapt to change. It is an irony that the complex psychological profiles of these individuals share many of the traits of the corporate “go-getters“ who the media glorifies.

There have been many typologies of the workplace psychopath but most include these features:

* authoritative, aggressive and dominating;
* fearless and shameless;
* devoid of empathy or remorse;
* manipulative and deceptive;
* impulsive, chaotic or stimulus seeking; and
* a master of imitation and mimicry.

One key criterion that needs to be included in any typology is that they lack self knowledge. In short, and to paraphrase the Bible, “they know not what they do". This doesn’t mean that they are ignorant. Far from it. Their actions are often highly adaptive, self serving and intelligent. For them, the means justify the ends and those means include isolation, humiliation and psychological torture of their staff.

I am not suggesting that these work place "aliens" are a new species. I am suggesting that they are coming in to their own as our public and private institutions, both great and small, are buffeted by the new IR legislation.

The rise of casual or temporary work, the declining power of unions and a more deregulated workforce have helped create an environment where these individuals are less constrained by the demonstrated ethical behaviour of their more senior peers.

Many years ago I worked in an advertising agency that had appointed an accountant (Dr X) as the new managing director. In his previous job he had five staff and 10 clients. Now, working with us, he had 120 staff and 30 major clients. Still though, as any one who has worked in advertising knows, expect the unexpected. It’s a robust and competitive environment.

Dr X seemed like a nice bloke and his ideas on revamping the agency, while frowned upon by some of the creatives and the catering staff, made sense. Marketing needed a major boost and some of the staff thought (wrongly) that working in an advertising agency was one long lunch and putting in four-day weeks. Alas, no.

Dr X took six months before he made his first move. He terminated all of the catering staff (mainly female and over 55) in one swoop. There was hue and cry but no one had the courage to do much about it.

Dr X then started isolating and picking on the older female staff who worked in administration. It was subtle and sly. One by one they’d be called in to his office and told they were “under-performing" or asked “had they thought about leaving?" He’d wait a fortnight and then corner one of them when no one was around and suggest that they’d be better off taking a severance package.

But they were feisty, articulate women. They called in the union, mediators from human resources (a waste of time) and there was even a local newspaper story written about the “Head rolling heads".

Just before Christmas he produced a survey (that was new!) from our clients (later proved false) that one of the major drawbacks to our productivity was that our reception staff took too long to answer the telephones. No one mentioned that they were now also the defacto catering staff. So he sacked the receptionists and hired casuals.

To cut a long story short, Dr X got his way and in the end, he went on to sack one third of the agency (including me).

I never felt any personal malice towards Dr X. He was older than me and prided himself on his physique (he lifted weights). His CV was outstanding. He was a brilliant financial analyst and researcher who had first started publishing academic papers in his early 20s. In another life, he could have been a mentor.

Yet there was something about Dr X’s CV that seemed odd. It was bloodless. It made no mention of human contact at all; of leading staff; of being a member of a team. There was no mention of negotiation or arbitration skills. He had listed no hobbies or community memberships, nothing which suggested that there was a life going on outside of the agency. His address was a post office box.

Dr X had found his niche in organisational life. While he craved status, power and control, he could not make the staff respect him. Younger staff left in droves. He wielded power with cunning and precision, excising all those who stood in his way, until he left a rump of staff who were so compliant they offered no resistance.

Why don’t people in organisations stand up to workplace maniacs? The communications theorist Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, who had lived through the Nazis in Europe, understood why. Her “Spiral of Silence" theory states that most people have a fear of isolation and they therefore try to follow the majority opinion. The more dominant the fear of persecution, the more each person “colludes" in silence forming a majority of silent witnesses.

The criminal actions of the workplace terrorist creates ethical and moral problems for the staff. They are thrown back on to their mettle and are forced to consider what actions, if any, they will take to stop the terror.

Apropos, those who didn’t speak up, now know a little of the fear of Muslim women in Australia - the fear of being both conspicuous yet silent.

Who hasn’t had elaborate and possibly blood-thirsty revenge fantasies about their boss? But most remain fantasies. Yet Dr X was an organisational psychopath and in a 25-year career history, he’s the first and only one I’ve met but I suggest readers may have met more.

I propose that we’re creating more of these monsters, yet I cannot prove it. It’s a hunch that the current “cult of the individual" has created the stage on which he and others breed, like bacteria in the denuded rain forests of the Amazon.

Dr X even had clones from the endangered middle management species, who, like creatures out of a 1950s science fiction movie, started to act and speak like him. They exhorted us to be team players.

“There’s no ‘I’ in team", the clones would yell to which I’d reply “but there’s two ‘i’s in ‘salary differential’." No wonder I never made it in advertising.

The Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Harvard University, Chris Argyris, says that every organisation is replete with “undiscussables” - the messy stuff that people don’t want to talk about such as bullying, mental illness, sexual harassment and drug addiction.

Worse still, the undiscussability is in itself undiscussable, which creates a group mentality that ensures no one will rock the boat. Usually it takes external events such as whistle blowers, corporate collapses or litigation to bring these dirty little secrets out in to the open.

Should we not admit to a strange, perverse fascination in the Dr X’s of the world in much the same way that Shakespeare characterised Richard the Third? A character who was without any redeeming qualities and who left a trail of destruction in his wake.

It is difficult not to shake the feeling that the characteristics that comprise the organisational psychopath are not, in some form, prized in corporate boardrooms because they brook no resistance to change. Like a hound after a hare, the psychopath is single minded in his or her pursuit.

Admittedly the organisational psychopath is in the minority. Yet they are living personifications of the worst aspects of organisational life: unbridled power, toadyism, guile and malice aforethought. They are successful tyrants.

When the pursuit of power becomes the bottom line, ethics seem pale things - or are they?

The social theorist Richard Sennett said in The Corrosion of Character that “Character is expressed by loyalty and mutual commitment or through the pursuit of long-term goals, or by the practice of delayed gratification for the sake of a future end ... Character concerns the personal traits which we value in ourselves and for which we seek to be valued by others.”

The workplace psychopath can never share in the respect of others or naturally give esteem. It may seem old fashioned but there is still dignity in labour, in putting in a hard day’s work. For whatever reason, for whatever cause, the workplace terrorist has cut himself off from one simple aspect of work - the fraternity and collegiality of working together.

By Malcolm King - posted Tuesday, 26 June 2007. Malcolm King is director of Republic Media, an educational and public advocacy business. He was a senior media adviser to the ALP and Australian Democrats and was the writing programs leader at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

London Met academics request your support

To: London Metropolitan University Governors

Dear Governor,

We, the undersigned, wish to protest at the refusal of London Met management to consult UCU, the recognised trade union, over any issue but most particularly over threatened redundancies. We urge you to insist that the Vice Chancellor acknowledges that UCU is the recognised union representing academic staff at London Met, and that he enters into meaningful discussions with UCU officers as a matter of urgency on threatened redundancies and other outstanding issues.


The Undersigned
It is imperative that we help our colleagues by signing the online petition. London Met was recently award the 'Divestors of People' standard, which indicates that there are a plethora of valid staff concerns that need to be addressed. Please show your support by signing the online petition.

June 25, 2007

Crown Prosecution Service Squashes Witness Intimidation Case Against Kingston University

The Criminal Witness Intimidation case against Donald Beaton, University Secretary, and Peter Scott, Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University has been squashed by the Crown Prosecution Service, after taking over the case from the alleged victims, who had originally launched a private prosecution before the Court in April 2007.

On June 22 in a hearing before the Richmond Magistrates' Court, charges were formally dropped by the CPS against the defendants on the grounds that Witness Intimidation, when it takes place against witnesses in an Employment Tribunal is, in effect, perfectly legal. According to the CPS, Employment Tribunal's do not constitute "relevant proceedings" under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, and therefore, there is insufficient evidence of a crime having been committed.

According to the alleged victims and their solicitor, who is also an alleged victim, Mr Beaton wrote a series of at least five threatening and intimidating letters between January and March of 2007 in response to having been informed that one of the victims had recorded her husband's internal grievance proceeding held before a panel of Board of Governors, and that this recording revealed that the panel had allegedly engaged in improper and unfair discussions with the Vice-Chancellor during a break in the proceedings, thereby suggesting that the process was not being carried out fairly and impartially.

According to the alleged victims, additional evidence has since emerged that suggests that the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Peter Scott was aware of and/or ordered Mr Beaton to write the allegedly threatening and intimidating letters in order to avoid embarassment. According to the alleged victims, Mr Beaton ordered them to turn over all existing copies of the recordings and transcripts thereof, not merely a single copy, thereby raising the question as to why this was done. Was it because the University wanted to suppress this evidence from coming to light during an ongoing Employment Tribunal proceeding?

Why is it that the CPS decided to squash this criminal case rather than allowing it to go before a Court for a full hearing on its merits as a private prosecution by the alleged victims? After all, a panel of three Magistrates apparently felt that there was enough evidence to issue an indictment of Mr Beaton on 20 April 2007, didn't they?

If this decision by the CPS is allowed to stand, will it become, in effect, perfectly legal to intimidate witnesses in Employment Tribunal proceedings? Could that have REALLY been the intention of Parliament when it passed the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001? And did the CPS then hold the view that Witness Intimidation, when it occurs in an Employment Tribunal, is and should be considered to be, in effect, perfectly legal?

For further details on this unusual groundbreaking case, visit the website:


June 22, 2007

London Met awarded the 'Divestors of People' standard

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are writing to inform you that your institution has been awarded the 'Divestors of People' standard, for you meet at least 50% of the required criteria.

For more details, please check:




Yours sincerely,

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Louise Michel and Peter Kropotkin

London Met corporate bullying - 2

Anonymous said...

The extent of corporate bullying at London Met is matched only by the incompetence of its senior management. Particularly since the University lost the high profile dispute over contracts following the merger there has followed a steady process of retrenchment by the management. Academic staff have gradually been removed from key committees which have been taken over by bureaucrats acting at the behest of their senior managers. Since the merger new modular course structures, forms of student support, systems of quality assurance have all been imposed with minimal consultation with the teaching staff who have to deliver them. This would not be so bad if what has been imposed were halfway effective. But while the new structures and processes are widely recognised (including by Heads of Department) to be at best half-baked and at worst severely destructive of good practice, the senior management of the institution remains completely out of touch with the realities of higher educational delivery, protected by the middle layer of mediocrities they have put in place to do their bidding. If the University Management could get themselves down to 50% of the criteria for the Hall of Shame, this would be a major step forward. Please consider this a formal nomination.

June 21, 2007

London Met corporate bullying

Anonymous said:

London Met staff have been subjected to corporate bullying since the day it was formed by a (pointless) merger between London Guildhall and North London. One example of controlling just for the sake of it, is that we are not allowed to take more than 3 weeks contiguous leave during the summer period. Currently, we are almost certainly facing compulsory redundancies, but management have decided not to recognise UCU, so they will be able to get rid of anyone they like (or rather, don't like) without consultation.

The Wikipedia entry for London Met merits a visit:


You will see that there is a lot of information there about "Industrial Relations"; this was added fairly recently, and is factual and properly referenced. All this text was deleted by someone whose IP address can be traced to London Met in the Holloway Road; then it was
restored, then deleted, restored and so on (click on the "history" button). It seems that someone does not want the truth published.
Just a reminder that we need two nominations from the same Higher Education institution to award them the standard DIVESTORS OF PEOPLE...

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...

June 19, 2007

Math Profs Get Mobbed

VIRO & JÖRICKE. Thanks to a colleague on North America's west coast, I have learned of the resignation-under-duress in 2007, of two prominent mathematicians at Uppsala University in Stockholm: the Russian Oleg Viro and the German Burglind Jöricke. As is common in academic mobbing cases, their foreign accents and imperfect command of the vernacular tongue appear to have been factors in their elimination. Viro has made relevant documents and transcripts available online. The European Mathematical Society has collected critical commentaries, including a strong critique by Karl-Heinz Fieseler et al. Aisha Labi has published a summary of the Viro and Jöricke cases in The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 25, 2007).

K. Westhues Homepage, workplace bullying in academia

June 18, 2007

Leeds Met staff stressed and losing sleep over management bullying - UK

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%).

The survey of UCU members at LMU paints a worrying picture of a bullying culture at the university. The survey was sparked by fears from the local union branch that staff members' health was suffering because of a bullying culture. The union was forced to survey its members after the university's human resources (HR) department refused to.

The union says that an early indication of the bullying culture was a unilateral ban on staff leave during graduation week and the two week staff development 'festival', followed by a thinly veiled threat to sack those who did not participate. The festival coincides with the end of the summer holidays, a time when schools are still on holiday, and many parents wish to be with their families.

The survey confirmed the union's concerns that, despite protestations from HR, leave during the two periods was not being granted. Ninety per cent of those surveyed said they had been refused leave during these periods.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The behaviour of the management at Leeds Metropolitan University is clearly having a demoralising effect on the staff. A decent work - life balance is crucial to staff being able to do their jobs properly. Even more worrying are the revelations in the survey about the impact the management's approach is having on staff's health.'

UCU regional official, Adrian Jones, said: 'The vice-chancellor claims the university aims to enhance well-being by promoting an ethical, healthy environment, ethos and community. The reality, revealed by the preliminary results of this survey, is very different. Besides the high levels of stress and anxiety, the survey reveals a climate of fear with 96% of those surveyed reporting that they felt inhibited about criticising polices of Leeds Met.'

From: http://www.ucu.org.uk
Is it time for another DIVESTORS OF PEOPLE award? Do we have any nominations coming from Leeds Metropolitan University? Do we know what the governors are doing about the situation?

June 17, 2007

Allegations of criminal witness intimidation by the University Secretary of Kingston University, UK

For those of you who are interested, this Friday, 22 June at 10:00 a.m. there will be a repeat "performance" (a continuation of a hearing from 10 May) of a hearing before the Richmond Magistrates' Court in the matter of allegations of criminal witness intimidation by the University Secretary of Kingston University, Donald Beaton.

According to the allegations cited in a Court-issued summons, Mr Beaton allegedly attempted to intimidate likely witnesses to an Employment Tribunal proceeding against the University into turning over ALL EXISTING COPIES (including originals) of evidence in relation to an ongoing Tribunal case, thereby creating a potential for these copies to be destroyed, altered, or otherwise rendered unusable as evidence.

You are all invited to attend the hearing, at which Mr Beaton is, as I understand it, supposed to enter his plea.

Several questions remain to be decided - is witness intimidation perfectly legal if it occurs in connection with Employment Tribunal proceedings? And if it is NOT legal, will the Crown Prosecution Service then choose to take over the prosecution of this case from the alleged victims (former University lecturers)?

To read a copy of the Summons, link to: www.sirpeterscott.com

June 16, 2007

Unite against the bean-counters 1

Letter to the Editors, Times Higher Education Supplement, 15 June 2007

So research is being wrecked by "bean-counters", as your front page had it (June 1). Isn't it about time that public-service employees started to fight back against the absurd notion that the so-called reform of the sector is somehow progressive? Doesn't every public service worker now understand exactly how regressive the measures inflicted upon the sector in the name of modernisation are?

Reform is, in reality, a 19th-century Gradgrind utilitarianism married to a vicious Thatcherite backlash against the ideals of public service that have provided institutions such as universities with endless supplies of unpaid overtime in the past.

No more - demoralised staff will work to rule if they are treated as untrustworthy children. Students can expect to be met by increasingly angry and exhausted lecturers. "Reform" has taken some of the worst indignities suffered by the working class and visited them on middle-class public-service employees under cover of an entirely bogus notion of accountability.

To paraphrase the political philosopher Pierre Joseph Proudhon: to be reformed is to be watched, inspected, spied on, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom or the virtue to do so. Or, if you prefer the Orwellian version, as one of my colleagues put it so eloquently: "if you want a vision of the future, imagine a sandal stamping on a human face - for ever!"

Nick Haeffner
, London Metropolitan University

June 15, 2007

Going backwards: failing to change the workplace

Thirty years ago in the New South Wales’ (NSW) [Australia] Upper House, Premier Wran delivered his visionary Second Reading to establish the Anti-Discrimination Board, stating, "the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual is of paramount importance to governments. The principle that all human beings are born equal, have a right to be treated with equal dignity, and a right to expect equal treatment in society is a principle firmly upheld by my government."

NSW was the second Australian state to enact anti-discrimination law after South Australia, but it was the first to establish a dedicated Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB). Its role then was to conduct quasi-judicial inquiries into discrimination complaints and develop human rights policies. Today, the ADB's powers are in the investigation and conciliation of complaints.

Thirty years is a good passage of time for considering the impact of the ADB. Thirty years of changes in the workplace and in social attitudes across NSW, but to what end?

The most recent management book from Robert Sutton, Professor of Management at Stanford University entitled, The No Asshole Rule - Building a Civilised Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, has been a bestseller in Australia. Its popularity attests to the fact that workplaces remain the number one location for bullying and discrimination. If so, what does this say about the effectiveness of the ADB?

Not much - last year, as with every year, most of the complaints to the ADB were made by women about sex discrimination in the workplace, 10 per cent were about individual males. Over half of the complaints do not even get looked at, either withdrawn or the ADB “declines” to investigate. Only 10 per cent end up in being publicly aired at the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT).

Two reports into the ADB by the NSW Law Reform Commission attest to the ADB’s failures. The first in 1999 recognised a "significant discrepancy between discrimination in theory and practice”. Professor Sutton observes that such "discrepancies", or bullying and discrimination, damages victims and batters bystanders.

Workplace performance also takes a dive with a decline in innovation, co-operation and morale. Then there is the cost of the victim’s ongoing retribution towards the employer. Corporate reputations can take a hard hit and prospective employees look elsewhere.

The second Law Reform Commission Report in 1997 relied on surveys of employers and employees who had dealt with the ADB. The results were not encouraging. Feedback was "very diverse, ranging from the extremely positive to the extremely negative". Participants stated that, "in the long run, it was often cheaper to settle a claim than to dispute it, whatever the merits of the case”. Whatever the merits? This sums up the ADB’s justice process - settlement through "conciliation".

Last year most complaints (33 per cent) looked at by the ADB were settled before, at, or after conciliation. The conciliation process involves the ADB acting as the third party, brokering a deal between the employer and employee.

The deal is the victim gets a payout, resigns, and withdraws their complaint. Employer insurance usually covers the payout, generally less than the statutory limit of $40,000. In return for the money, the victim signs a legal contract to withdraw the complaint and say nothing to anyone, especially the media

This practice fails to prevent bullying and discrimination. In many cases the perpetrator remains in their job, perhaps transferred, rarely dismissed. Lip service replaces attitude change.

Take a look at one of the ADB's "successful conciliation" case studies:

A man who was a middle manager in the human services industry wanted to negotiate more flexible working arrangements so he could take care of his young children. He said that after he did this he was harassed and bullied by the manager … The man become very stressed, went on leave and made a complaint of carers' responsibilities discrimination to the board. The complaint was conciliated when the respondent agreed to pay him a separation payment and compensation totalling $10,000 in exchange for his resignation.

Whatever happened to the manager who "bullied and harassed" him for trying to take care of this young children? What did the company do to ensure this did not occur again?

This disturbing view of success was identified in the first Law Reform Commission Review Report which stated, "because the majority of complaints of discrimination are resolved at successful conciliation and because the outcomes reached at conciliation are private, conciliation precludes the development of community education initiatives and thus impedes efforts to promote awareness of, and compliance with, provisions of the ADB."

The ADB argues that the “intelligence” obtained from these confidential conciliated cases enables them to focus their prevention and education efforts.

According to ADB’s 2005-06 Annual Report, two highlights of their intelligence-driven education program were a state-wide colouring competition and information sessions for the deaf community. Education in the corporate sector amounted to three employer seminar programs and 645 in-house training sessions. The NSW Chamber of Commerce currently lists over 5,000 members. The ADB’s education and prevention impact is clearly limited.

Most workplaces have introduced programs to prevent discrimination and bullying. These are often based on information published by the ADB. During the conciliation process, employers point to these programs as evidence of how they proactively prevent bullying. Are they successful?

Professor Sutton writes, "posting them on a wall or Web site or talking about them are - alone - useless acts. And if these values are routinely violated and not steps are taken to enforce them, these hollow words are worse than useless … (as the) organisation and its leaders are seen as hypocrites which fuels cynicism and scorn.”

In the same Second Reading, Premier Wran, described a time when "people of any colour, race or sex are accorded equality without resort to the protection of the law". Thirty years later the protection afforded by the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board has dissipated into a bureaucracy obsessed with processes over people and payouts over prevention. Perhaps is time to revisit the former Premier's vision, at least as a starting point. Professor Sutton's No Asshole Rule might help as well.

From: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au
It is obvious that many of the above apply to Higher Education.
  • The significant discrepancy between discrimination in theory and practice, and that such "discrepancies", or bullying and discrimination, damages victims and batters bystanders.

  • Whatever happens to bully managers? What does the university do to ensure this does not occur again?

  • Posting anti-dicrimination and anti-bullying policies on a wall or Web site or talking about them are - alone - useless acts. If these values are routinely violated and not steps are taken to enforce them, these hollow words are worse than useless, as the university and its managers are seen as hypocrites which fuels cynicism and scorn.

June 12, 2007

Watchfull eyes...

Anonymous said:

Has anyone heard of a probationary period that lasted 15 months, just because one challenged the manager's lies? With the full support of the human resources and under the watchfull eyes of UCU local representative.

June 08, 2007


...According to a national poll conducted by the Employment Law Alliance, 44 percent of American workers reported having worked for an abusive supervisor... The issue is apparently gaining the attention of lawmakers around the country, with 13 states currently considering legislation to address workplace abuse.

Based on model legislation drafted by David Yamada, president of the nonprofit New Workplace Institute in Boston and professor of law at Suffolk University Law School, the new legislation aims to give severely bullied employees the right to sue the bully or the company, if it fails to stop the bullying

From: New Hampshire Business Review
Workplace bullying affects ‘at least one employee in 10’

...Bullying in work affects at least 10% of employees and tackling the problem can improve companies’ performances, a conference heard yesterday... The trade union Unite told delegates at the meeting in Cardiff that the current shortage of skilled labour across Wales highlights an increasing need for organisations to adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying. Companies should also have anti-bullying and harassment policies in place. Bullying in the workplace costs the UK economy £2bn each year through sick pay, staff turnover and loss of production, according to Unite...

From: http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk
Conflict in the workplace 'surprisingly common'

Disagreements and bad feelings among employees should be tackled by managers, according to a new survey. The head of employment law at the law firm Eversheds, Martin Warren, said his firm's study had found widespread conflict, some of which occurred on a regular basis.

He told BBC Radio Five Live's Wake Up To Money programme that a fifth of survey respondents thought disagreements fostered better performance but that most employees did not like it. Key grievances cited in the report were people who passed others' work off as their own and those who would not work as a team. People who simply liked to be disruptive to colleagues formed another concern and bullying was found to be common.

"One of the other issues of the research is the important role of middle management in spotting it early and taking steps to resolve it, because a degree of conflict is probably good for the employer but if it gets out of hand it clearly disrupts," he said

From: http://www.clickajob.co.uk
The Commission for Racial Equality “appalled” by racism in the workplace figures - UK

New data released by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) shows that racism in the workplace “is still rife”. The CRE have released data showing 43% of 5000 complaints over a six month period were linked to employment.

Employers are warned that they are risking paying out millions of pounds of compensation and missing out on talent by failing to extend the same rights and working conditions to all employees.
Common grievances made by ethnic minority employees to the CRE Information Assistance Centre (IAC) include allegations of workplace bullying, inability to secure interviews and lack of career progression.

CRE’s Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Employment states that employers are legally responsible for any unlawful racial discrimination or harassment by their agents, contractors or workers in the course of their employment. Under the Race Relations Act, an act of discrimination or harassment by a worker in the course of his or her employment is treated as having been committed by the employer as well as by the worker, whether or not the employer knew about it and approved of it...

From: http://www.workplacelaw.net

Academics Face Sack for Objecting to Laughing at the Disabled!

By Ciaron O'Reilly, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Today I attended a solidarity vigil for
Gary MacLennan outside his QUT (Queensland University of Technology) disciplinary hearing. Gary and a fellow QUT academic John Hookam, are facing disciplinary hearings and possible dismissals, for objecting to a PhD project entitled "Laughing at the Disabled". Check the link below for background on the case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEucGUEQFwA

I first met Gary in the 1970's in Brisbane, he had arrived in Brisbane at a time when "Laughing at the Irish" (Irish jokes
were at their height in the '70's) and shooting them in the streets were dovetailing in his native north of Ireland. Gary was one of the courageous voices under the Bjelke Petersen state government that suppressed free speech (thousands of arrests from '77-'80) and systematic police corruption.

Gary, myself and many of our friends were victims of Political arrests, bashings, police raids and harrassment during
this period. Gary has taught for over 32 years at QUT where he is celebrated as an inspirational teacher.

The "Laughing at the Disabled" PhD had been passed by the ethics committee and had exploited two adults with disabilities, setting them up to be humiliated in a country pub. Gary and John expressed opposition at the PhD presentation and later wrote an
article for "The Australian" newspaper see:


These acts are the basis of the discplinary action. In a Kafkaesque twist they have been accused of "bullying" by those who bully the disabled for entertainment.

Today's hearing was held behind closed doors with no defense counsel. "Queenslander of the Year" aboriginal academic Chris Sarra http://www.abc.net.au/message/news/stories/s1126447.htm
attended the hearing to advocate for Gary.

The actions raise questions about attitudes to people with disabilities, free expression and natural justice. These questions are not being explored in the disciplinary hearing but were explored in a forum outside the hearing today. These issues need to be explored inside QUT and outside. The sacking of these courageous academics will not advance this exploration.

June 07, 2007

These things happen...

Anonymous said:

I've just read The Criteria at: http://bulliedacademics.250free.com/divestors_of_people.html and in particular "7. Staff are demorilised [sic], de-skilled or demoted." Ah, how that rings true!

The names and disciplines in the examples below are fictionalised, but parallel exactly what happens in certain universities that, since I still need to pay the mortgage, I shall not name. I suspect that many of you may find these to be familiar stories.

Dr T, well published (journal papers, a Harvard Press text book listed in Encarta), is told that, instead of teaching macroeconomics in which he has a PhD and considerable experience at his previous institution, he will have to teach marketing. He knows absolutely nothing about marketing, has never taught marketing, has absolutely no interest in marketing ... however, his head of school tells him the every member of staff should be prepared and willing to teach across the whole gamut of the school's curriculum. So he does ... and spends money on text books to keep a week ahead of the students, since he's never been offered any professional development opportunities to support him in his new role. He notices that the 'school bullies' are, on the other hand, never required to "teach across the whole gamut of the school's curriculum".

The following year Dr T is asked to teach human resource management (about which of course he knows nothing), and the year after that to teach needlework and clean the toilets. A once promising career in tatters. Pompous colleague Mr W, meanwhile, with very little background in macroeconomics is, on request, allowed to teach ... yes, you're way ahead of me there ... macroeconomics.

Dr R has pulled in a research grant for 223k euros. He informs his head of school, who replies contemptuously: "So what do you want? a pat on the head?"

Plain ol' Mr F, who does not have a degree (but then neither does his head of school), is suddenly named on the school web pages as "Dr F" and elevated to 'Director of Research' (though he does not have a single research publication to his name).

Dr L is putting together a major international conference on the political history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1960 to 2003. His colleague Dr J, who is black Congolese from Katanga province and a well published expert on the political history of the DRC (his father served in the 1960 administration of Patrice Lumumba), is told by Dr L that there is no role for him in this conference and that any paper he submits will be discarded unread.

These things happen. You know they do as well as I know they do, because we all know of people to whom these things have happened. The media occasionally publish a couple of column-inches on surveys of generic bullying, on university teachers quitting to become gas fitters, on low morale among academics ... but, to my knowledge, there has never been a thorough investigative report on what *really* happens in our institutions. We need courageous journalists to publish alternative league tables based on well-researched and prominently publicised cases such as those I've fictionalised above and they're all true, believe me. Let's see how that would impact on student recruitment.

Yes, by all means the THES ... but for heaven's sake don't be half-hearted about it! don't let it be just a couple more column-inches this week to be forgotten about by next week. And who reads the THES anyway? We do ... and we don't need to be told what we already know. So where should we be looking for such stories? The Daily Mail, Channel 4, The Voice, The Independent, TimeOut, and wherever else it will be read by a wider public ... and a wider public that crucially includes those 18 year olds who are deciding where they will study next year. Those 18 years olds who might feel short-changed if taught macroeconomics by Mr W or Congolese political history by Dr L ... or needlework by sad and broken Dr T.

June 03, 2007

‘Divestors of People’©

‘Divestors of People’© is a standard awarded to Higher Education institutions that excel in mismanaging, bullying, and harassing their staff.

The criteria are:

1. Lack of strategy to improve the under-performance of the institution. This does not exist, is not clearly defined, or is not communicated to staff.

2. There is lack of coherent investment in staff development.

3. Whatever strategies exist to manage staff, these are implemented to promote cronyism, incompetence, favoritism, or inequality, and to disguise management failures

4. The capabilities managers need to learn and manage staff are not defined. Managers received little or no training to improve their communication, behaviour and people skills.

5. Managers are ineffective in leading, managing, and developing staff. High levels of over-management or under-management.

6. Staff are not encouraged to take ownership and responsibility through involvement in decision-making. There is no accountability and transparency in the decision making process.

7. Staff are demorilised, de-skilled or demoted. The working environment is toxic.

8. Lack of improvements in managing people is chronic.

9. The working environment shows high levels of work-related stress.

10. Internal grievance procedures are used selectively by managers - against staff. Some managers are untouchable despite their failures.

11. Staff report high levels of bullying and harassment by managers. Fear prevails among the silent majority.

12. The governing body is detached from the staff and is in the same bed with the management. Governors show no visible interest in the affairs of the staff.

Nominations are open to all staff in all universities. Institutions qualify for the ‘Divestors of People’© award if they meet at least 50% of the above criteria and this can be verified by at least two different staff members from the same organisation. Nominators can remain anonymous.

June 02, 2007

And the ritual continues...

a) First this:

b) Then this:

The Unkindly Art of Mobbing

From Academic Matters: the Journal of Higher Education, OCUFA, Fall 2006, pp. 18-19. Ken Westhues describes how academics can gang up on unpopular colleagues — and alerts readers to the signs that an academic "mobbing" is in the works.

'... If the target refuses to leave or acquiesce, the mobbing may escalate to a formal outburst of aggression. Mobbers seize upon a critical incident, some real or imagined misbehavior that they claim is proof of the target’s unworthiness to continue in the normal give and take of academic life. A degradation ritual is arranged, often in a dean’s office, sometimes in a campus tribunal. The object is to destroy the good name that is any professor’s main resource, to expose the target as not worth listening to. Public censure by the university administration leaves the target stigmatized for life. Formal dismissal with attendant publicity is social elimination in its most conclusive form...' [http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~kwesthue/unkindlyart.htm]

c) And then, the icing on the cake:

Real academic freedom
Academics should be free to call into question our most cherished beliefs - to slaughter a whole herd of sacred cows, if that's what is required. Critical inquiry is the starting point for stable and enduring knowledge about the world, and that often means upsetting people.

But academic freedom doesn't mean that academics can say whatever they like, whenever they like. Academic freedom doesn't mean freedom to swear at their students in class, just as it doesn’t mean freedom to behave badly at dinner parties. There are certain standards and restrictions that academics should be expected to comply with, given their position as professional - and adult - members of society.

So that is why the case of Sal Fiore, a senior lecturer in computing at Wolverhampton, sacked for criticising his employers online, is not really an academic freedom issue. In an online discussion forum, Fiore linked Wolverhampton to bullying allegations, and he also conributed to a blog, 'Bulliedacademics.blogspot.com', discussing his university. Heretical books are one thing, but this is an academic behaving like his students on Facebook, who moan about people they don't like.

Academic freedom means something very specific: the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. This is inherently valuable, and can be exempted from normal administrative and professional regulations. The deputy director of a company would not expect to keep his job if he criticised the ideas of the top director. This is not the case in academia, a sphere based on the free contest of ideas. But an academic could expect the sack if he criticized his boss's hair colour or personality, which is not a matter of ideas at all, but merely a matter of bad behaviour.

So defend academic freedom - for academics that know the difference between ideas and tittle tattle
. [Speaking our mind.]

d) Further:

'...At a practical level, every professor should be aware of conditions that increase vulnerability to mobbing in academe. Here are five:

• Foreign birth and upbringing, especially as signaled by a foreign accent;
• Being different from most colleagues in an elemental way (by sex, for instance, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, class origin, or credentials);

• Belonging to a discipline with ambiguous standards and objectives, especially those (like music or literature) most affected by postmodern scholarship;

• Working under a dean or other administrator in whom, as Nietzsche put it, “the impulse to punish is powerful”;

• An actual or contrived financial crunch in one’s academic unit (according to an African proverb, when the watering hole gets smaller, the animals get meaner)

Union officials investigate bullying at business school - Wales, UK

The extent of bullying at a Welsh university is being investigated by union officials. The University and College Union has issued questionnaires to all its members in the University of Glamorgan Business School.

UCU secretary for Wales Margaret Phelan said she and other officials would be meeting the university’s vice-chancellor Professor David Halton later this month to discuss the issue.

“We have sent out a questionnaire. It asks a number of questions about the business school including bullying,” Ms Phelan confirmed. “We are meeting with the vice-chancellor and can’t say anything more until then.’’

Gwyn Smith, UCU branch secretary for the university and a senior lecturer in the business school, said around half of the school’s 100-plus staff were union members. “Questionnaires have gone out from our regional office. It was a single issue about bullying and to see the extent of the problem,” he said.

Mr Smith was also unable to give more details until discussions with management had been held. Glamorgan Business School is the largest business school in Wales and is highly regarded across the UK.
It has worked with companies including Hyder, Bosch, British Airways and London Underground.

The questionnaires sent out by the UCU follow a formal investigation into allegations of bullying, sexual and racial harassment and serious financial irregularities at the business school in 2003. Those allegations were made by an anonymous whistle-blower and were investigated by retired Exeter University academic, Professor Edward Abel.

Peter Crofts, head of marketing and student recruitment, said there had been no allegations of bullying at the business school in the past 12 months. He said, “The university is carrying out its own staff survey in a couple of months so we are disappointed that the UCU is carrying out its own niche survey.”

From: http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk
Applause. Braaaavvooooooo. Yeah! Even more interesting that a retired professor was given the task and seems to have discovered something. So why is it that this particular university gets union interest and not others? Are there no union members in other universities? Yes, OK, we are a bit cynical. If the union wants to be taken seriously, then it should follow up on the above and expand the investigations into abuses occuring in other universities. If UCU wants some credibility, then it should follow up and not make this an isolated case. How bad does something have to get before they take notice?