February 14, 2008

Workplace bullying: just say no

...In a system where we place individuals in a position of power over others without democratic accountability or transparent process there is bound to be scope for those in a position of power to take out their frustrations and inadequacies on their subordinates, even where this cuts against the interests of the organisation...

When I was a UNISON steward in the NHS a few years ago I worked in a unit that had developed a real culture of bullying over a period of years. Whilst the two tiers of management we had direct contact with were, partially, responsible for this it was one worker in particular who was making life a misery...

Now I'm sure most people reading this would think "here's a job for the union". Your instincts are right and noble - but there was a difficulty. The branch secretary was married to a top manager and, as far as I'm aware, there has never been an instance of him opposing management on any substantive issue and when I approached him for advise he blankly refused to act. Why? Because the culprit in question was a member of the union.

This was an outrageous position. The idea that you don't protect workers when the bully is a union member turns union membership into something more akin to being a made man in the mafia...

To fight bullying you have to have leverage. The more leverage you have the better able you are to defend yourself. A corrupt union is worse than no union at all - but a good one is your best defense. Your workmates are the best weapon you have. Solidarity is the key

From: http://jimjay.blogspot.com

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