A Moray councillor expects bullying to increase in local authority offices as the prospect of cuts looms over employees.
Elgin City North representative Patsy Gowans fears that ambitious council plans to tackle harassment among its workforce will have little effect amongst increasingly tense staff members.
Earlier this year the authority agreed to plunge £136,000 into a range of initiatives designed to make bullying a thing of the past.
But Mrs Gowans feels it is unavoidable that harassment will rise as the already cash-strapped local authority faces further financial pressures in the new year.
She said: “There are difficult times ahead and difficult decisions to be made, and despite these efforts to quell bullying I believe things will inevitably get worse.
“Cuts in public spending will increase bullying, there will be more cliping and more menacing behaviour from people out to keep their jobs.
“But bullying goes on in workplaces everywhere, not just in Moray Council – workplaces can be so ruthless.”
Mrs Gowans said a motivating factor in her entering local politics was witnessing bullying firsthand at a former place of employment.
She added: “I saw a manager bullying a vulnerable member of staff, who was very hard-working.
“I just couldn’t stand to watch it anymore, and I stood up against it even though I knew that would make me a target too.”
Earlier this month the Scottish Government confirmed that Moray Council would receive £5million less for day-to-day spending over the coming financial year.
The decision deflated local members, who are already faced with having to chop £6.2million in daily expenditure.
Moray Council convener Allan Wright said the budget cuts “made a difficult financial position even more difficult”.
But a workforce culture group headed by council leader Stewart Cree has been established to ensure that all employees are treated fairly.
Earlier this week it emerged that thousands of workers from across Moray and the Highlands had turned to the internet for support to help them get through workplace bullying in the last year.
Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant revealed that more than 7,000 people from the two regions had visited her Tackling Oppressive Behaviour in Employment (Tobie) website since it was founded last December.
The politician suggested bullying be made a specific criminal offence in an effort to decrease its prevalence at places of work.