Shocking reports this year on staff wellbeing and mental health have revealed a culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation across the civil service and related areas.
The annual civil service staff survey report has recorded an increase in work-related stress and mental health issues. This week, a further report carried out by Dame Laura Cox QC into bullying and harassment of staff working at the House of Commons revealed a toxic culture of sexism, bullying and harassment of staff working in the department spanning a number of years.
The #metoo movement has sparked worldwide condemnation of sexual harassment and has brought the issue into the spotlight. Men and women alike are standing up to institutionalised bullying and sexual harassment, seen by the millions who demonstrated across the world on International Women’s Day on 8 March.
Workplace bullying and harassment is a divisive issue and is a culture which mainly comes from the top. Well-organised workplaces can expose the problem and collectively work towards finding a solution to this problem by challenging bad management working practices, campaign for proper child and carer friendly policies and proper career and promotion opportunities.
PCS has been raising at Cabinet Office level the need for a robust framework policy on dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace. We will continue to argue for full trade union involvement in challenging this issue.
In conjunction with TUC Education at Newhaven college, PCS has designed a one-day workshop which we are encouraging all PCS regions and nations to offer. The course will raise awareness among all union reps, and give them the confidence and tools to challenge management where change is not forthcoming.
Most of the courses will be held in the union’s regional offices, but we can also explore possibilities of running the course for branches in large workplaces or external venues where appropriate. For instance in London and South-East the first course will be held, appropriately enough in the Houses of Parliament, but will be open to members of other PCS branches.
For more details on forthcoming dates of PCS Sexual Harassment courses check our events page.
To order some “Sexual harassment is a trade union issue” materials (workplace noticeboard posters and leaflets) contact your PCS regional office.
We also want to hear from branches/workplaces who have been involved in campaigning to improve working conditions and have successfully challenged bullying and discrimination.
PCS national women's forum chair and PCS vice president Zita Holbourne said: “Sexual harassment destroys lives. It has no place in our workplaces or in our society. It’s essential that there is zero tolerance and that there are systems and structures at work for people to report sexual harassment – and that action is taken against perpetrators by the employer. We also need to ensure there are safe spaces for all women and that all of us work together to build a culture where sexual harassment is neither accepted nor the norm. As a trade union we have a key role to play.”