Union praises work done to rid bullying culture from Moray Council

Moray Unison branch secretary Ailsa McDowell is happy to see steps have been taken to clamp down on bullying.
Moray Unison branch secretary Ailsa McDowell is happy to see steps have been taken to clamp down on bullying.

Improvements made to clamp down on a bullying culture at Moray Council have been hailed as a step forward.

Two years ago, shocking statistics revealed nearly a third of authority employees that took part in a questionnaire had been harassed in their job by management, colleagues and members of the public.

Yesterday a raft of new measures and training programmes were presented to the council’s policy and resources committee to show efforts were being made to bring about a change of culture.

The improvements have been welcomed by union bosses eager to foster a pleasant working environment free from abuse.

Moray Unison branch secretary Ailsa McDowell said: “There have been numerous changes made. They’re all working quite well and it’s good to know that we’re getting towards the end of it.”

New induction training, guidance for management and road shows have been introduced to stamp out the problem. The measures have helped “reassure” staff the issue has been taken seriously.

Specialist council staff have been recruited to rid intimidation, excessive criticism and unpleasant personal remarks.

Management have also been encouraged to listen more to the workforce to address problems while making them feel respected.

Despite the progress being made the council’s head of human resources, Denise Whitworth, is eager to see further improvements made to ensure the results are long-lasting.

She said: “The difficult part is getting the behaviour change that we are looking for. It’s a long-term issue and will require tenacity and staying power.

“The early results are already showing some positive improvements in that area.”

Finishing touches to the programme include preparing a new handbook and establishing a new focus group.

Council leader Stewart Cree chaired meetings of a working group specifically tasked with stamping out bullying from the authority.

During the discussions yesterday he revealed the committee would now be meeting less often as a result of the progress made.

He said: “Over the last two years we have addressed quite a range of issues. We’re now at the stage where we have a clear understanding of what has been done and what has to be done in the future.”