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Bullying rife at Sutton Council according to UNISON survey

Bullying is widespread in Sutton Council according to results published in a newly released staff survey, which found "humiliation" and "intimidation" to be among the most common problems.

More

than half of the 209 staff who completed the UNISON survey claimed they had been bullied at some point in their role.

The number of respondents makes up 11 per cent of the local authority workforce, and the findings were dubbed ‘flawed’ by a council spokesman.

He also pointed out that the council is undergoing a major restructuring process due to budget cuts forced upon the authority by a reduction in central Government funding, and this may have impacted responses.

The questionnaire found 31 per cent of those who took part felt they were being bullied, with 20 per cent of those affected having taken sick leave as a result.

When asked what form the bullying took, humiliation, excessive criticism, and intimidation were the most common answers.

A spokesman from the trade union said they carried out the survey after learning Sutton Council was not doing one of their own.

The local authority last carried out a workplace questionnaire about the issue two years ago, but has said it is intendning to hold three later this year.

Forty six per cent said they knew a colleague who had left the council because of bullying, with 58 per cent saying they had experienced it directly at some point.

The survey also asked respondents whether they felt other members of staff treated them with respect.

Seventeen per cent said chief executive Niall Bolger failed in this area, with 13 per cent saying councillors also fall short.

Mr Bolger at first chose not to respond to the survey, but when pressed said: "I value the comments of any staff member and we will be meeting with Unison to discuss the survey.

"We must make sure staff are given the support they need during a period of massive change when our workforce is being greatly reduced."

A Sutton Council spokesman added: “We will be meeting with UNISON to discuss their findings, however, we find their survey methodology and statistics to be flawed compared to the independent surveys we carry out on a regular basis, with three planned for this year.

“To give just a few examples, the survey was not administered by an independent organisation; the 209 respondents are only 11 per cent of the workforce when the industry standard is 30 per cent in order to draw firm conclusions, around 85 per cent of the surveys were filled by union members compared to the 34 per cent of our staff that are union members, many questions were unclear and skewed towards a certain answer and in some cases contained incorrect information.

“This should not deflect away from the fact that clearly some staff feel they are being unfairly treated.

"We are acutely aware that this needs to be taken very seriously."

Do you work for Sutton Council and feel you are being bullied? To speak to a reporter anonymously call 020 8722 6358, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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