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NUJ reaction to bullying & harassment statement in parliament

21 December 2017

Today Andrea Leadsom as leader of the House of Commons has made a statement that commits parliament to a new independent complaints and grievance procedure. The NUJ has been involved in the cross-party working group in parliament tasked with addressing reports of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, taking an active role during the last six weeks to improve the workplace culture in Westminster. The union has a chapel in parliament representing SNP workers.

The NUJ welcomes the announcement today and strongly supports the creation of a new overarching framework to tackle abuse at work. In particular, the union welcomes the commitment to offer HR support, starting immediately, and the commitment to increase the provision of training.

The NUJ is pleased that cross-party parliamentarians have acknowledged and taken responsibility for the culture of bullying and sexual harassment which pervades parliament as a workplace.

However the union is very disappointed that the working group has not made further commitments today as part of the programme of immediate work. The long-term proposals that have been announced should be implemented urgently.

Everyone – be it staff, MPs, Lords, journalists, or stakeholders – deserves to be treated with respect at work, able to carry out their work in a safe environment free from all forms of bullying and harassment.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Putting in place independent mechanisms to tackle bullying and harassment in parliament is an essential step towards instilling a culture of mutual respect in the workplace. 
"We know that the peculiar power structures that exist in parliament have played a role in incidents of bullying and sexual harassment. That is why, if victims are to have faith in reporting a grievance, it must be independent and respected by all the political parties. In order to be effective, the new measures outlined today must be implemented and adhered to.
"The union wants the working group to reconvene again as soon as possible in the new year in order to ensure that parliamentarians make swift progress on promises made about implementing the new proposals.
"Health and safety at work is a legal and moral right. Parliament cannot operate outside of these principles. Implementing robust procedures is only the first step in attempting to change the endemic bullying and harassment culture that has existed, further work must remain a top priority in order to tackle the problems coherently and effectively."

Tags: , parliament uk, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, snp