July 23, 2012

Australian Inquiry into workplace bullying - We need one in the UK too!

"The Committee encourages submissions to its inquiry from a wide range of individuals and organisations... More submissions will be added to the list when they are received and authorised for publication..."

Read some of the submissions, including one from the National Tertiary Education Union:


Time to have a similar inquiry into workplace bullying in the UK.

July 20, 2012

University of hard knocks

Staff relations at one of Australia's top universities have become so dysfunctional some employees spend working days "crying in the toilets". More than two thirds of the academic and general staff at the University of NSW - many in senior positions - said they had been bullied at work.

Some claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Many of the alleged bullies are women and university authorities have been accused of failing to address the issue, a federal parliamentary inquiry into workplace bullying has been told.

A submission to the inquiry prepared by the National Tertiary Education Union said a confidential survey of more than 550 UNSW staff uncovered complaints about "unfair treatment, public humiliation, arbitrary misuse of power and repeated shouting, swearing and threatening behaviour in their work units". Almost 40 respondents said they received or witnessed "unwanted sexual attention" while others reported "illegal discriminatory activity, pressure to retire and demeaning and discriminatory jokes".

One senior staff member was heard to comment on a colleague, saying she looked like "Princess Diana after the accident with the steering wheel through her face".

The submission said: "This was reported to senior management in the workplace but the respondent was unaware of any action taken.

"Some of the open-ended responses described incidences that amounted to physical and/or sexual assault.

"Another said that seeing colleagues crying in the toilets was a daily occurrence."

UNSW vice president of university services Neil Morris said yesterday university chiefs had met the NTEU to discuss the report on workplace bullying.

"While there are isolated cases of bullying -- as with any large organisation -- the university does not accept there is a culture or pattern of bullying at UNSW," Mr Morris said.

"None of our internal measures of bullying complaints or claims match the NTEU data and, in fact, are much lower."

Federal Tertiary Education Minister Senator Chris Evans did not respond to a request for comment.

NTEU branch president at UNSW Dr Sarah Gregson said in the submission she feared bullying was becoming an unacknowledged but deeply corrosive aspect of campus life: "The evidence we gathered suggested that, although UNSW has a bullying policy and other guidelines that outline acceptable workplace conduct, these policies are routinely ignored and harmful behaviour is often excused."

The submission said many staff feared speaking up about bullying, were demoralised and would like to leave UNSW.

"We were surprised at the number of relatively senior staff members who were also being bullied," it said.

The union has recommended a range of reforms.

From: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-news/university-of-hard-knocks/story-e6freuzi-1226429497231



Bullying in Australian universities is widespread and should be investigated across the tertiary sector, says the academic responsible for a damning report into one of Sydney's top universities.

Sarah Gregson's Report into Workplace Bullying at UNSW, first reported in the Herald in March, uncovered a culture of bullying and intimidation at the university, and has now been submitted to a federal inquiry into workplace bullying. Dr Gregson, an academic at the university and the local branch representative of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), said she would be lobbying the union to extend her survey to other institutions.

''I've sent that report to a range of activists around the union and they say there's nothing in there that they're not very familiar with, so we just need to keep continue to keep campaigning … We'd like the parliamentary inquiry to recommend improved legislation in the area.''

In an email to staff yesterday the vice-president, university services at UNSW, Neil Morris, rejected Dr Gregson's report, saying there was no pattern of bullying and the research methods were not sound...

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/tertiary-education/tertiary-bullying-needs-action-says-academic-20120719-22d52.html#ixzz21BlLhuoQ


Imagine if there was in the UK a National Inquiry into Workplace Bullying just as the one taking place in Australia right now.  Imagine what it would uncover in UK universities... and why is UCU not asking for such an inquiry?

July 16, 2012

The Ten Recommended Administrative Measures

1. “Focus on the situation, issue, or behaviour, not the person.”

2. Replace quasi-judicial campus tribunals with administrative decision-making.

3. Unless evidence compels them, avoid forensic words like allegations and charges.

4. Keep the rules clear, fair, and simple; keep policy and procedure manuals short.

5. In the face of demands that a professor be punished, entertain not just the null hypothesis but the mobbing hypothesis.

6. Seek proximate, specific, depersonalized explanations for why some professor is on the outs, as opposed to distant, general, personal explanations.

7. Encourage mindfulness of all the bases on which academic mobbings occur.

8. Defend free expression and encourage dialogic outlets for it on campus.

9. Keep administration open and loose.

10. Answer internal mail.

From: http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~kwesthue/waterloostrategy.htm#one