Published: 06/04/2014 08:02 - Updated: 04/04/2014 11:41

Culture of bullying denied

Elgin North councillor Mike Shand
Elgin North councillor Mike Shand

MORAY Council has been accused of burying its head in the sand over long-running concerns about bullying.

The issue was raised after the findings of an employee survey went before councillors in November.

This week Councillor Mike Shand, SNP member for Elgin North, asked local authority managers why, months after concerns were raised, no serious action had been taken to address the problem.

However, a spokesman for the local authority said that to suggest there was a culture of bullying was "simply not true".

Councillor Shand said that answers to his questions given by officers were at best "woolly and non-committal" and at worst "burying heads in the sand".

He added: "Bullying is a very serious concern, and several councillors have had personal contact from staff who state they have left the Moray Council due to bullying and harassment.

"This is borne out by the results of the staff survey, which identified a worrying level of concern among those completing the survey.

"As an employer, the council has a responsibility to tackle this issue head-on and with vigour.

"I do not see any of that vigour, and when I suggested that we should be sending senior officers to a major workplace bullying conference, it was largely dismissed with no commitment whatsoever.

"I do not believe the council is dealing with this disturbing matter effectively, and as long as there is a significant bullying issue, it will impact on staff morale and on the services the council provides to the public."

Around 25% of the local authority’s employees – more than 1,230 – responded to the staff survey, which was carried out last summer. A total of 8%, around 100, said they had experienced harassment, bullying or victimisation in their work.

A council spokesman said that the SNP had not said how many staff had approached them.

"We are aware of only one former member of the council’s 4,500 staff to have approached local SNP members," he added.

"The report Councillor Shand refers to clearly states that the staff survey results do not differentiate between internal or external (customers) sources of bullying, or between colleagues and managers.

"To indicate that a culture of bullying exists, or that it exists among senior officers only, is simply not true."

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