Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Bullying 'growing' at university

A man under stress (library picture)
The UCU said bullying at the university was a very serious problem

A union is investigating what it calls an "ever increasing" number of complaints about bullying among staff at Aberystwyth University.

The University and College Union (UCU) has launched an employee survey to gauge the extent of the concerns.

It said grievances among staff working in the Ceredigion town were rising, but added it was "determined to tackle the root of the problem".

The university said any allegations of bullying were investigated.

The union said a dignity and respect at work policy had been introduced recently at the university.

However, it said its local association had complained of an "ever increasing number of bullying cases".

We will not allow this issue to be swept under the carpet
Mark Oley, UCU

Mark Oley, UCU regional support official said: "The growth, and severity, of the personal cases that the union has been involved with is a growing concern.

"We do not feel the university is dealing with the problem either quickly or robustly enough.

"It's fine having a policy in place, but unless there is training for all managers and staff then the policy is worthless.

"We will not allow this issue to be swept under the carpet and [the] survey launch is the first step to stopping what we see as a very serious and growing problem."

The university said it introduced its dignity and respect at work policy in July, and was "committed to promoting a working environment in which all employees treat each other with respect".

A spokesman added: "The policy is designed to facilitate this and any allegations of bullying or harassment will be investigated.

Bullied

"The university's human resources team work to support staff who raise an issue of bullying or harassment. The university also provides a mediation service.

"The university is now working to embed the ethos and values as set out by the dignity and respect at work policy by providing training for staff."

The university said a UK-wide survey of UCU members about bullying, which was published on 27 November, had placed Aberystwyth 70th out of 91 higher education institutions.

The survey found 4.1% of respondents at Aberystwyth said they were "always or often" bullied at work, compared to an average of 6.7%.

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