A new website designed to offer support and assistance to anyone suffering from bullying in employment is being launched this week.
Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant is being joined by local councillor Sean Morton and Ailsa McDowell from Moray Unison to highlight the new site, which was launched in Inverness on Monday.
The Labour MSP set up the ‘Tackling Oppressive Behaviour in Employment’ (Tobie) website to encourage people to speak out about bullying in the workplace.
She said: “It is a sad reflection on society in the 21st century when bullying is rife within the work place as well as at schools, colleges and in other forms of life.
“The individual who suffers at the hands of bullies is scarred for a very long time if not for life.
“Such behaviour causes mental health issues to the innocent sufferer who is subject to bouts of anxiety, depression, stress, associated illnesses and ultimately absence from work.”
It is an issue that has already generated debate at Moray Council, where fears have been expressed over workplace bullying amongst council staff. One victim of workplace bullying contacted insideMoray recently to express her concerns.
She spoke of months of bullying that finally led to her leaving her job at the local authority earlier this year, saying: “I could not sleep – my health was suffering immensely, and my relationship and home life suffered.
“I became depressed and was put on medication for a short time, but also sought counselling, which helped me handle things better.”
Ms Grant has said that all employers have a key role to play in trying to stamp out “anti-social and unacceptable behaviour”, adding: “As a stepping stone in the right direction, every employer should make sure they have an anti bullying policy which all staff are aware of.
“I would like to think that any acts of bullying within the workplace will be viewed seriously and where there is evidence the perpetrator will be subject to disciplinary process.”
Earlier this year Councillors in Moray pledged to introduce a programme of change aimed at putting an end to bullying in the workplace. A working group was created consisting of councillors and trade union representatives with the task of bringing forward possible solutions.
At the time the council’s convener, Councillor Stewart Cree, said: “It would be great to live in a world where there was no bullying, unfortunately this sort of behaviour is all too often experienced.
“We have to try and establish an environment where we try to act with courtesy and respect all day every day. It is possible to achieve cultural change but it might take a long time.”
Ms Grant admitted that it was hard to get people to talk about bullying, adding: “But I would plead with anyone who is subjected to this form of cowardly behaviour to speak to someone about it in the first place, whether that be a colleague or a Line Manager or even a parent or guardian.
“I am hopeful that my site will enable sufferers to seek that right advice and guidance, point them in the right direction and hopefully see the individual being in a position to deal with the bully and break away from this unwanted and despicable behaviour.”
Ahead of the Moray launch of the new site on Friday, Moray Unison spokesperson Ailsa McDowell said: “Employees have a right to expect to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace.
“For those who suffer it, bullying is a humiliating and distressing experience. It is the role of a trade union to ensure that the risks of bullying at work are minimised and, where it does occur, it is dealt with promptly and appropriately.”
The new website can be found at http://www.tobie.org.uk.