How do you know if you’re being bullied? Bullying differs from harassment and assault in that the latter can result from a single incident or small number of incidents – which everybody recognises as harassment or assault – whereas bullying tends to be an accumulation of many small incidents over a long period of time. Each incident tends to be trivial, and on its own and out of context may not constitute an offence or grounds for disciplinary or grievance action. Six in ten college and university lecturers reporting in a survey carried out a few years ago said that they had been bullied. The Branch Committee has been concerned for a while that members here are having such experiences. So,
What is bullying?
- constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism of a trivial nature – the triviality, regularity and frequency betray bullying; often there is a grain of truth (but only a grain) in the criticism to fool you into believing the criticism has validity, which it does not; often, the criticism is based on distortion, misrepresentation or fabrication.
- simultaneous with the criticism, a constant refusal to acknowledge you and your contributions and achievements or to recognise your existence and value.
- seeking complaints from students and other members of staff, spreading malicious rumours, negative timetabling. Supervising a lecturer without his/her knowledge with harmful intent.
- where you are in a group (eg at work), being singled out and treated differently; for instance, everyone else can get away with murder but the moment you put a foot wrong – however trivial – action is taken against you.
- being isolated and separated from colleagues, excluded from what’s going on, marginalised, overruled, ignored, sidelined, frozen out, sent to Coventry.
- being belittled, demeaned and patronised, especially in front of others.
- being humiliated, shouted at and threatened, often in front of others
- being overloaded with work, or having all your work taken away and replaced with either menial tasks (filing, photocopying, minute taking) or with no work at all
- finding that your work – and the credit for it – is stolen and plagiarised
- having your responsibility increased but your authority taken away
- having annual leave, sickness leave, and – especially – compassionate leave refused
- being denied training necessary for you to fulfil your duties and having unrealistic goals set, which change as you approach them.
- deadlines which are changed at short notice – or no notice – and without you being informed until it’s too late.
- finding that everything you say and do is twisted, distorted and misrepresented.
- being subjected to disciplinary procedures with verbal or written warnings imposed for trivial or fabricated reasons and without proper investigation.
- being coerced into leaving through no fault of your own, constructive dismissal, early or ill-health retirement, etc.
IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ON THE RECEIVING END OF THIS KIND OF UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR PLEASE CONTACT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING UCU BRANCH OFFICERS IN CONFIDENCE:
Chris Webb Chair, Geraint Evans Vice Chair, Michael Page Secretary, Umit Yildiz Equality Officer, Debbie Rolls Union Learning Rep, or your building rep.
Follow this link to UCU’s national campaign against stress and bullying