Supporting a TUC motion on measures against bullying and harassment today (9 September), Unite delegate Mary Callaghan called for an increased number of healthy and safety reps, better legal training and more facility time to combat the issue.
She said: “This motion has one simple message: when it comes to bullying and harassment enough is enough. As President of Wigan Trades Council I know that members of all TUC affiliate unions face this issue. It is attacking workers in every industry, in every sector and in every union.”
Callaghan highlighted TUC research that shows that 45 per cent of safety representatives list bullying as one of their top five workplace concerns, saying that members are facing an “epidemic”.
“Overall it is the second biggest workplace issue after stress. What I find alarming is that the age group which most commonly reports bullying and harassment is workers between the ages of 19-34,” she said.
“I fear that is no coincidence that suicide is the number one cause of death for this same age group.”
Callaghan told congress that bullying is an “industrial issue” and that the reasons it thrives are “material”.
“For young people bullying is most prevalent in workplaces where employment is precarious. Young workers are scared of losing work and bullies always thrive on silence,” she explained.
“Interestingly, bullying and harassment is least reported by workers who are 55 and over. I suspect that this isn’t simply a case of age bringing confidence. I think it’s because older workers have simply been accepting this problem for so long they see it as a fact of life.”
Callaghan added, “Just as the causes of bulling are industrial so are the solutions. More facility time. More health and safety reps. Better training of the laws which we can use to demand that employers fulfil their duty of care.
“A unionised worker is a confident worker – confident that they can speak out and that they will be listened to.”