Unison, Orkney Islands Council’s largest trade union launched its anti-bullying campaign at their AGM on Thursday 14th of March in the Town Hall Kirkwall.
At a very well attended meeting , Unison’s branch secretary in Orkney, Sally George, spoke about OIC’s staff survey which showed that 30% of staff who responded had experienced workplace bullying. In some sectors it is much higher than this with up to 50% of respondents either experiencing workplace bullying or having witnessed it in Orkney Health and Care.
Sally George spoke of the devastating damage being done to working lives and that every week Unison is dealing with cases where workplace bullying is a factor. High sickness rates of staff absence is very often an indicator of an underlying cause of bullying. The sector where this is most prevalent is in Health and Social Care.
One member described the survey itself as deterring many people from coming forth as in small departments the questions asked would mean an individual could be identified. Workers simply did not trust the anonymity of the survey or that action would be taken.
Ryan McLaughlin who is in his final year of being a Unison ‘young member’ joined the union when he was 19. In his first year in employment he was consistently bullied in his workplace which led to a period of sickness absence. This went unreported until a Unison steward inquired about his wellbeing. Ryan described the importance of being in a union, the support and help it can provide you with because you are not alone. He also stressed the importance of young workers getting involved and joining a trade union.
“If we don’t have young activists then our union dies.”
Unison’s anti bullying campaign seeks to change the culture in the workplace where bullying takes place at all levels. Sally George stated that the council’s action plan has had little or no progress. Unison wants to gather evidence from workers which they will use to produce a Code of Conduct and an Anti- Bullying Charter.
Sally George expressed her exasperation that nothing is changing. It was time to take action and the anti-bullying campaign will be ongoing.
For more information or if you wish to participate in Unison’s Workplace Bullying Consultation:
Facebook: Unison Local Services