National Chair

Nov 2009 | 18.11.2009

Zero Tolerance to Bullying in the Workplace

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Dear Colleagues

Many of you will be aware of the problems which arose at HMP Liverpool last week.  This escalated across the prison estate, as POA members and other work colleagues supported the 200 plus members of staff, who had withdrawn to a place of safety, as a direct result of bullying and harassment by Management.

I was in attendance throughout the dispute with other members of the Executive, whilst others managed the press, media and sought a resolution with the Prison Service. Although a Local Agreement was reached and staff returned to work, the National problems were still unresolved. Following protracted discussions, it was agreed to hold a Special National Whitley today with the General Secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, in attendance to try and resolve these matters.

It was clear that last week many branches echoed the concerns of the Liverpool Branch in respect of bullying and harassment of staff.  The Executive have listened to the concerns of the membership and asked for change.  Some of you may be asking why did the Government, through the Ministry of Justice not take the Union to Court.  It was pleasing that the Courts were not used on this occasion, as it would have been a sad indictment on any organisation to utilise the Courts to support bullying.

Prior to the meeting today the attitude of the Director General was less than cordial towards the POA and Brendan Barber.  Whilst we expected a positive approach from the Director General, it was very much the same old, same old thing.

The Executive clearly emphasised the concerns of the Liverpool Branch and handed over their written demands, in a bid to be open and transparent.  We re-iterated our demand for an independent inquiry into the events leading up to and the cause of walkout at HMP Liverpool.  The only commitment from the Director General was to give a informed formal response as a matter of urgency.  We requested a reply by Thursday of this week, which we thought was more that reasonable, so that I could update the Liverpool Branch on Friday when I am visiting.  Unfortunately, our demands have not been acceded to by the Director General.

We have promulgated a number of POA circulars on this issue and further information will be sent out this week to enable Branch meetings to take place on Friday of this week.

We are trying to seek a satisfactory resolution to the dispute at Liverpool and also to end the culture of bullying in the work place by Management under the guise of robust Management.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the NEC and Branches for their support during the dispute and the offices of the TUC.

Colin Moses
National Chairman