Tools to support young members deal with bullying

Bernadette Lafferty
Bernadette Lafferty

#uNDC16 Conference paid tribute to the Scottish Young Members’ publication, Gonnae No Dae That? – a guide for young workers on bullying and harassment in the workplace, how to recognise it and how UNISON can support them and pledged to develop similar resources across the four nations.

A National Young Members’ Forum amendment called for workplace events in Young Workers’ Month (November) to make young workers aware of the issues and how they can be tackled with the union’s support.

Moving the South Lanarkshire motion, Bernadette Lafferty, young member until Wednesday, told delegates that bullying and harassment at work are common problems. This was confirmed by many of the speakers who gave moving testimony about bullying and its effect from their own experiences.


Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy

“Young people in the onset of a new career or working life need support from their colleagues and their union but it doesn’t always work out that way,” she warned.

The Scottish young members committee constructed a survey which showed a shocking 75% of young people had experienced bullying in the workplace. However, more than half of those didn’t understand what is classed as bullying so therefore it went unreported and unresolved.

She spoke about the Gonnae No Dae That campaign which has been a great success.

“Being bullied has a serious detrimental effect on a person’s health and wellbeing causing stress, anxiety, depression which leads to other physical ailments and time off work and, in some extreme reports, thoughts of or even attempts of suicide,” said Bernadette.

“In the guide we have included a section called ‘Bully or Banter’. This teaches us why it’s important how we conduct ourselves at work and shows that people need to be more self-aware and understand that whilst you may think your actions are innocent, what you say and do affect those around you.”

She warned that with increased pressures at work caused by the continuing cuts it’s likely that bullying at work will increase.

“That is why it’s important to make this a national campaign and produce guidance for members and reps on how to help as well as encouraging sector committees to raise awareness with employers the importance of tackling bullying at work.

“Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment, free from bullying, harassment or intimidation,” said Bernadette, calling on the union to work closely with young people to build a strong confident workforce.

Aberdeenshire’s Kathleen Kennedy, in her maiden conference speech, supported the motion and told delegates that it is important for young members to know what is bullying is and where to get help.

“Developing material aimed at young members will not only support young members to recognise bullying and where to get help, it will also be a great tool to recruit young members,” said Kathleen.

Conference Home