Preston City Council vows to act over 'bullying' claims

Talks are taking place between Preston City Council chiefs and a union after workers complained of "bullying and harassment".

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 7:00 am
Preston town hall

The Unite union carried out a survey among council staff which threw up several issues about how workers felt they were being treated.

One street cleaner told the Post that morale at the Argyll Road depot was "very poor" and hard-working staff felt they were being picked on.

Preston City Council said today it would work with staff and unions to resolve any issues.

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The Unite survey of council workers found that:

*83 per cent felt their achivements were not recognised

*67 per cent did not feel respected

*50 per cent felt discipliniary action was too harsh

*50 per cent said management were unsympathetic

*50 per cent said facilities were poor

*50 per cent "felt bullied and harassed in work"

Unite regional officer Tanya Sweeney said: "The work survey of our members at Preston city council highlighted a number of issues about how our members are treated by managers.

"We are now engaged in a dialogue with the council to resolve these matters.

"As the discussions are on-going and are of a sensitive nature, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage, except to say, the welfare of members in the workplace is always Unite's key priority."

Adrian Phillips, Chief Executive of Preston City Council, said: “The safety, wellbeing and happiness of our workforce is a key priority, so the results of this survey completed by our Street Scene team came as a disappointment, that we immediately responded to and engaged with.

“We actively seek to communicate and engage with our staff across the whole council and engage regularly with trade union representatives.

“Staff from across our organisation have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic including our operational teams who have been on the front line of our service provision.

"We have strived to recognise and regularly thank them for their great work and additional efforts during the past year."

Mr Phillips said the council had worked hard to make sure all sites were COVID compliant and the Health and Safety Executive had visited the Argyll Road depot site and were satisfied.

He added: “I strongly encourage any member of staff to raise any concerns of bullying or harassment through the appropriate channels, so they can be fully investigated. We take any allegations of this nature very seriously.

"We also have policies in place to ensure disciplinary action is fair and that employees have the right to appeal against any action.

“We are already in discussions with Unite to better understand the results of this survey and how we can work together to address and hopefully resolve the issues raised.”