This week is Anti-Bullying Week, a fitting time to focus on an issue that continues to cause our people such severe, needless damage and distress.
Bullying has no place in our offices, no place in our lives. It’s scarcely credible we still need to say this in 2019. However the volume of membership cases we see leaves no possible doubt. Bullying is not only still with us but, if anything, more pervasive than as ever.
Sometimes it comes masked in a smile, sometimes cloaked in ‘management process’ and sometimes naked in venom. People bullied for making minor mistakes at work, for looking or sounding different, for challenging how things are done, for having children to care for, for being autistic, for being Trade Union representatives, for having a disability, for living their own values…… and sometimes for no earthly reason at all, just because a bully can. In the end the excuse doesn’t matter, bullying isn’t caused by the victim. It’s all about the weakness and intolerance of the bully.
The Home Office speak endlessly of their ‘zero tolerance’ commitment against bullying, harassment and discrimination. But still it happens every day across our offices, causing harm too often literally untold. We repeatedly hear of people bravely raising concerns about bullying only to be diminished, ignored or patronisingly dismissed. Of formal complaints taking months on end to investigate through intensely stressful processes, seldom resulting in firm action against bullies. Of people confiding in colleagues for support only to be called ‘snowflakes’ – or worse – and made to feel responsible for the treatment they receive.
Being bullied is an awful, degrading experience. Victims typically feel isolated, powerless and humiliated. Poor mental health normally follows. The impact is far worsened when, having found the courage to challenge the bullying, people are then left to feel disbelieved and unsupported. Or even blamed for becoming the victim of bullies.
There is much work still to be done and the ISU will continue to campaign for more effective, rapid anti-bullying measures. For early, independent interventions. For better support to managers who too often now lack the tools to deal with bullying at source. For better, kinder treatment for victims of bullying. For decency, humanity and integrity in our workplaces.
You can find some useful background material and resources below – where we will add more content as the week goes along – but if there is one fundamental piece of advice it would be ‘don’t suffer in silence’. If you are affected by bullying at work please contact your local ISU Branch representative. We will help and support you.
ISU General Secretary