Unite, which represents hundreds of MPs’ staff has called for root and branch reform of employment practices, following today’s (Thursday 11 July) publication of the White report into parliamentary bullying.

The union’s grassroots reps regularly support staff who have been victims of such behaviour.

Previous reforms not sufficient

Last year parliament agreed a series of measures to reform the working culture in parliament but Unite warned that they were not sufficient to tackle the bullying culture, which the White report has borne out.

Unite believes that it is now essential that parliament seeks the urgent assistance of conciliation service Acas to facilitate an agreement between the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) and trade unions to radically transform employment practices; ensuring, that in future unions are fully recognised so that workers can be supported and represented for all employment purposes.

Poisonous hierarchy

Such reforms must address the poisonous hierarchy that exists in parliament and they need to create a working environment built on mutual respect and professionalism.

In order for parliamentary staff to have any confidence in a complaint, investigation and sanctions process, Unite believes that it must be completely independent of MPs and Lords. The process must not be influenced by parliamentarians in any way.

Unite agrees with the report that historical allegations must be fully investigated and that an arbitrary cut-off point on dealing with complaints runs contrary to natural justice.

Grim reading

Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said: “The White report makes grim reading but comes as no surprise for our members working in parliament and in constituencies, who know all too well that bullying behaviour is at endemic levels.

“Unite’s reps in the parliamentary staff branch, who have been campaigning hard for change for over 35 years are only too well aware of the bullying culture that exists from their experience on the frontline of supporting the staff of MPs and Lords.

“This report is welcome as it is the first time the concerns of staff have been put at the front and centre of the drive for change.

“However, staff will never have any confidence in attempts at implementing a system of investigation and sanctioning that is not completely independent of influence from the very MPs and Lords that employ them.

“The recommendations outlined in this report are a start, but it is vital that real solutions are provided that go far enough to deal with the causes of the systemic issues that have been starkly revealed in this report.

“Unite will provide representation and full support to any of its members against any MP who is bullying or harassing their staff.

“Until the toxic culture of deference and hierarchy is tackled then dignity in parliament will never be achieved.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.