Women’s aid staff to strike amid bullying claims and mass staff suspension

Unite confirmed that 100% of its membership at Glasgow East Women’s Aid voted to support strike action.

Glasgow East Women’s Aid staff to strike amid bullying claims with staff ‘suspended’ iStock

Employees at Glasgow East Women’s Aid have voted to strike amid allegations of bullying, a mass staff suspension and the “unfair” dismissal of five workers.

Unite confirmed on Tuesday that every member at the Easterhouse-based organisation voted to walk out amid the suspension of 13 staff.

The union, which represents more than a dozen workers at the service, also confirmed that it is has launched legal action on behalf of five members dismissed by the organisation during the ballot period.

The dismissals are being claimed as unfair on the basis that it is specifically linked to their trade union activities, and support has been provided to the members suspended amid allegations of bullying.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite will not tolerate any of our members at Glasgow East Women’s Aid being targeted and dismissed due to raising legitimate concerns about their workplace.

“These dismissals shockingly took place during an industrial action ballot, and there is no doubt this move was designed to undermine the ballot process.

“Unite has launched unfair dismissal claims on behalf of our five members. Be in no doubt we will be holding the organisation’s management to account for its disgraceful behaviour and potentially illegal attitude to its staff.”

The Glasgow East Women’s Aid (GEWA) website has a notice reading: “Due to unforeseen circumstances GEWA will be operating on a reduced service.”

Unite is demanding Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government, as funders of Glasgow East Women’s Aid, urgently intervene on behalf of the service users.

Linda Wilson, Unite industrial officer, added: “Events at Glasgow East Women’s Aid have turned from bad to worse. We believe our members have been targeted for attempting to raise legitimate concerns about the service, and for exercising their rights by involving their union in this dispute.

“We will now consider our next steps following our members’ emphatic support for strike action.

“The organisation’s funders including Glasgow City Council and the Scottish government should be immediately stepping in because it is public money which allows the centre to run. As funders they should be demanding answers and holding this rouge employer to account.”

Glasgow East Women’s Aid said in a statement: “We have had on going issues with Unite regarding publication that our service is closed and has been for eight-weeks. As we and our legal advisers have repeatedly told Unite, this is wholly untrue and does nothing other than deter victims of domestic abuse from reaching out. Unites irresponsible publication in this regard is directly damaging to service users and it is simply not true. If you or anyone you know is experiencing issues of abuse, please do not hesitate to contact Glasgow East Women’s Aid as we are still here to support our service users.

“One employee who is also a member of Unite continues to be overlooked by Unite. This worker raised a complaint to Unite many weeks ago due to this which is still unanswered. Similarly, all employees, including those going on strike, are the very individuals who have been the subject of those grievances which Unite refer to as being about bullying. Understandably, this is an extremely complex situation.

“Similarly, Unite and employees have claimed they are going on strike due to the board not investigating internal HR issues. Again, this is completely wrong. In actuality, the Board instructed an external HR investigation in September that is still on-going. The employees are now expressing that the investigation is not moving as fast as they would like despite it only having been around two months.

“This may seem like a while; however, it needs to be understood that it will take time to complete a comprehensive independent HR investigation into over 15 individuals, over a course of complaints that they have brought to the forefront, referring to alleged behaviour that is many years old. Strike action is not justified and ironically could delay the investigation.

“The Board has made every possible effort to resolve issues and continue to support employees through external counselling, but employees are ignoring our attempts at resolution.

“We are now at a highly regrettable stage where we are trying to resolve matters with our employees, but they refuse to communicate with us directly. Therefore, we are at a loss as to how else we can resolve matters with these valuable workers.”

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