Bullying.. and being lectured by a trades union – you scab..

Spike1 Bullying is a very loose word which is being thrown around a lot at the moment in the press. I've been bullied in the workplace (but I think I got away with it). My experience ranged from general unpleasantness which was so trivial it seemed petty to make a fuss about it (but was sustained and real). To a relentless barrage of criticism and hostility which was so absurd that I emerged from it unscathed (I genuinely have had the experience of having a presentation drastically revised by the same person who had dictated it to me 48 hours before).

Being the victim of bullying is horrible – because the effect is the undermining of self esteem – bullying grants the bully territory and bragging rights. So lasts far beyond the particular incident where bullying is taking place – because it is a power play which leaves you disempowered in relation to the bully. Because its effect is personally experienced – it can be confused with getting a bollocking.. because you deserve it and you are genuinely out of line – feels just as unpleasant but is necessary and ultimately beneficial if you learn from it. 

Where bullying seems to be problematic (and prevalent) is where jobs don't have much of a description – this is what what current hoo ha about vicars and bullying is about. And also flat management structures which mean the individual concerned is unmanaged and looks unaccountable. So any attempt to criticise or bring to book brings the response 'Its not my job' or 'Its not worth your bothering my superior with because he won't do anything'

This type of pressure comes about because there doesn't seem to be any other form of recourse. So is a form of violence because there aren't any alternatives. Put in a proper management structure and job accountability and the pretext for bullying disappears. The rebuttal that vicars shouldn't join unions because they are not employees raises the question then to whom are they accountable? Bullying is 'necessary' if there is no alternative provided.

I'm also intrigued that unions are wading in on this front. Negotiating and collective bargaining on behalf of members is a valuable role for them to fulfil. But what about those who don't co-operate? My friend Lisa postal worker couldn't afford to go on strike in December with Christmas in the offing. Unlike her colleagues she was unable to make up the ground using her own car to make deliveries because she can't afford one (ever wonder how Royal Mail employees are able to deliver all that extra post?)  Now she is being harassed by one of the very unions who claim their role is to prevent bullying by management. Funny old world eh?

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