Union warns Andrea Leadsom that a panel dominated by MPs will not win the confidence of parliamentary staff
PARLIAMENT’S belated bid to deal with bullying within the Palace of Westminster won’t have the confidence of staff unless it includes workers’ representation, union Unite is warning.
Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has set up a working group to tackle harassment, bullying and abuse of power after a series of revelations about sleaze in the corridors of power.
But Unite, which represents hundreds of staff at Westminster and in constituency offices, has expressed “deep concern” over its composition — 10 MPs and two staff representatives.
It warns that unless the group is shaken up, staff will have “no confidence” in its results.
The union said in a letter to Ms Leadsom on Friday: “Staff do not have confidence that employers can take the lead in fixing this broken system. Self-regulation has failed for years.
“Unite’s parliamentary branch is clear that this must be a staff-led process, and either the numbers of staff be balanced on the group or an outside expert body such as (conciliation service) Acas be asked to review the whole system and make independent recommendations for a new system.
“Staff need this system to be fixed to ensure a safe, decent and respectful workplace. Unite is committed to working to ensure this.
"We have no faith that the working group as currently constituted can achieve this vital change and would respectfully ask that you reconsider its composition.”
And the union is stepping up its campaign for recognition for parliamentary and constituency staff, having gathered nearly 500 signatures as the Star goes to press today.
Unite argued that sexual harassment and bullying makes the lives of workers “a misery,” adding that all staff should have the right to dignity at work with unions helping to make workplaces safe and put power in the hands of staff.
It has met Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the issue, saying she agreed to consider the proposal.
Unite's parliamentary constituency branch chairman Max Freedman said: “Unite has emphasised the need for the voice of staff to be amplified in the discussion of new processes and in eliminating the culture of bullying and harassment.
“Parliament cannot set itself apart from other workplaces. It must provide a safe working environment for employees. It’s time to recognise Unite.”