Mancat bullying issue won't go away

14th November 2003 at 00:00
Congratulations on your courageous exposure of the problem of bullying which, from discussion with many Manchester college of arts and technology lecturers over recent years, appears to permeate sections of that institution.

The growth of the problem of bullying is, of course, not restricted to Mancat, nor are the denials of managers and heads of departments.

Some years ago, I had experience of this at a Northern institution where, as the "maximise profits at any cost" ethos of incorporation took a hold, the demands on lecturers were ratcheted up.

Groups of staff were required to jump through seemingly never-ending hoops, and hit ever-increasing "targets", apparently without regard to the cost to their students (or their own integrity). People who questioned the ethics of such practice were defined as "the enemy", intimidated, threatened and if they persisted in resistance, victimised. Individuals, - and thankfully there were a more than a few - who tried to prevent the victimisation of their colleagues, found themselves castigated and victimised in turn.

Two courageous lecturers eventually used the official grievance procedure to expose the bullying of senior management. The week before the grievance hearing, the accused managers arranged to have a letter circulated by their junior management team, inviting staff to sign their names, and thereby deny the experience of those lecturers who had complained.

There are several questions that the managers of Mancat need to address. If there were no instances of bullying in the English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) or other departments, then which college were Laura McMenemie, Alex Stevenson and Hardip Kaur working in? (FE Focus, October 3). What convinced another lecturer on her "exit" interview to tell personnel manager Andrea Anthony "It is difficult to convey the indignity and humiliation felt by members. There is an atmosphere of institutional fear, oppression and intimidation".

Why was Peter Field, a skilled and popular lecturer, apparently sacked without warning? This is the sort of question that needs answering, otherwise it seems that the FE Focus article of October 3 was all too accurate.

John Murphy

Chair of Regional Council

Natfhe North-west Regional Council

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