Published: 14/04/2014 08:00 - Updated: 11/04/2014 12:40

Staff to be surveyed on bullying

Written byHazel Lawson

MORAY Council is to survey staff on whether they have been bullied or harassed at work.

Staff are being urged to speak up about bullying.
Staff are being urged to speak up about bullying.

The move came after the local authority was criticised for sticking its head in the sand over the issue by SNP councillor Mike Shand.

In a letter to members Ailsa McDowell, Moray branch secretary of Unison, said the union had already raised the bullying and harassment issue with head of ICT and human resources, Denise Whitworth, and the council’s chief executive, Roddy Burns.

She added: “Unison is encouraging all our members to fill out and return this survey honestly.

“We are concerned that, although we often hear about bullying and harassment, members are reluctant to progress their complaints as they do not feel they will be dealt with effectively.

“In order to tackle the issue with the council we need all our members to speak up about their own experiences of unacceptable behaviour.”

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

Around 25% of the local authority’s employees – more than 1,230 people – responded to the questionnaire, which was carried out last summer.

A total of 8%, around 100, said they had experienced harassment, bullying or victimisation in their job, while more than 20 of those indicated they did not make a formal complaint about it.

The survey did not show if the incidents were perpetrated by colleagues, managers, service users, pupils or the public.

Since a recent article in the ‘Northern Scot’, Councillor Shand said his phone had been “red hot” with employees and ex-members of staff getting in contact.

Concerns were raised relating to around a dozen existing employees of the local authority, with more complaints from those who have left.

However, none were willing to be named for fear of reprisals, either to themselves or colleagues.

Councillor Shand, welcomed the decision to conduct a survey.

He said: “I hope people do fill this in.

“But if they don’t you can well understand why.

“What of the 23 people (from the employee survey) that were not willing to take it forward?”

Councillor Shand added harassment ultimately impacted adversely on services being offered by the council to the Moray public.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “We welcome the trade union’s backing for this council initiative.

“Our last staff survey indicated that harassment was an issue for some, but provided insufficient detail as to what form that took, or if the source was colleagues, managers, clients or the public.

“This latest survey will provide that detail and cover a wide range of issues affecting staff.

“We would urge all staff to complete the survey, whether or not they have experienced harassment or bullying at work.

“It is only when we have the evidence can we address an issue.”

The survey will be rolled out on Wednesday (April 16) and completed by Monday April 28.

Discussions still need to be carried out with councillors on how they want the results presented.

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