BPSU On Workplace Bullying & Harassment

October 21, 2020

BPSU Armell Thomas Bermuda March 2020“The BPSU is deeply committed to continue its work to ensure the workplace is a healthy environment, free of bullying, harassment, and discrimination,” BPSU President Armell Thomas said.

Mr Thomas said, “One of the core principles of the Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] is that all workers have the fundamental right to be treated with dignity and respect. Being on the frontline as one of Bermuda’s leading labour advocates, the BPSU has first-hand knowledge that bullying and harassment is a major concern in many workplaces throughout the Island.

“According to a membership survey the Union conducted in 2016, 48% of respondents reported to have had “personally experienced bullying in the last 12 months”. In addition, 58% of respondents indicated that they had “witnessed bullying and/or harassment of other staff at work in the last 6 months.”

“When this negative behaviour is left unaddressed by management, it eventually becomes an accepted cultural norm of an organisation.

“Bullying and harassment must not be confused with exercising managerial authority. It is important to distinguish between a person who is reasonably exercising legitimate authority at work in an appropriate way, and a person who is bullying and harassing.

Definition of Harassment

“Harassment is defined as unwanted contact which has the purpose [intentional] or effect [unintentional] of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. Harassment is unlawful when it is on the grounds of sex, gender reassignment, race, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, disability, political or trade union affiliation. It is also unlawful to subject a person to sexual harassment.

Definition of Bullying

“Whereas harassment is linked, in law, to discrimination, bullying is not. Bullying may include harassment and harassment may include bullying. Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service [ACAS] defines bullying as behaviour that:

  • is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting
  • is an abuse of power
  • uses means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

“Bullying and harassment is an occupational health and safety issue. There is growing evidence that exposure to workplace bullying and harassment has serious negative impact on the target, the workplace, co-workers and clients.

“In an effort to combat workplace bullying and harassment, the BPSU launched a “Workplace Anti-Bullying and Harassment” campaign in 2016 with the purpose to:

  • raise awareness to workplace bullying and harassment
  • provide support for those who were subjected to bullying and harassment and
  • promote a workplace free of bullying and harassment.

“This campaign included a membership survey, the dissemination of anti-bullying & harassment flyers and the publication of an informational magazine designed to be a resource for both employers and employees. In an effort to engage the public, the Union also hosted a panel discussion that included representatives from Bermuda’s leading helping agencies and participated in radio interviews on the topic.

“Subsequently, the BPSU has been working with its bargaining units to update collective bargaining agreements to include a clause specifically pertaining to addressing incidents of bullying and harassment. As a part of its commitment to educating both employers and members, the BPSU visits its bargaining units to give presentations on this topic. In addition, the Union has appointed 2nd Vice President, Sis Linda Bogle-Mienzer as the Union’s Rapid Response Liaison Officer who is responsible for providing support to victims of bullying and/or harassment.

“The BPSU is deeply committed to continue its work to ensure the workplace is a healthy environment, free of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.”

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Comments (3)

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  1. Question says:

    When will some civil servants stop bullying the public?

  2. Sweet dreams says:

    I once got called out for bullying when a work colleague did nothing all all day, and I complained to his boss.

    I was reported to Immigration for being anti-Bermudian.

    I’m just a guest worker though, I’m sorry for trying to help Bermuda become productive.

  3. Joe Bloggs says:

    “According to a membership survey the Union conducted in 2016, …”

    Seriously? You are complaining now about events that took place more than 4 years ago and under a different Government?

    As for the “definitions” of harassment and bullying, I would like to know where those “definitions” come from. I was not aware Armell Thomas was a lawyer.