Home NEWS RSPCA accused of ‘culture of bullying’ by Unite union 

RSPCA accused of ‘culture of bullying’ by Unite union 

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The RSPCA has become embroiled in a row over an alleged “culture of bullying” among some of its staff members, as trade unionists claim the charity appears to have abandoned its efforts to tackle the problem.

Unite, which represents 1.4 million workers and has hundreds of members at the RSPCA, claims a “lack of progress” has led to the alliance they formed with the charity being “disbanded”.

But the RSPCA insists this is not the case and claims the group is, in fact, expanding its membership.

The conflict comes after a survey by Unite found that almost a third of the charity’s employees said they had been bullied or witnessed colleagues being bullied, according to an internal staff engagement survey last year.

In response to the findings, the RSPCA launched a “wellbeing action group” with Unite to “review all relevant policies and explore fresh ways to ensure that anyone can raise a concern and access support”.

Unite regional officer, Jesika Parmer, said: “Unfortunately, there continues to be no internal policies that deal directly with bullying or harassment, which Unite has highlighted. The wellbeing action group was discontinued because of the lack of progress in creating dedicated policies that addressed bullying and mental health issues in the workplace.

“A snapshot poll of our members shows that two-thirds of them would be prepared to take part in a ballot for industrial action, including strikes. We hope that it does not come to that, but the ball is very much in the management’s court, if it wishes to recalibrate employment relations in a more positive way.

“The Wellbeing group was disbanded back in September. It had hardly met during 2019 and it has not been expanded. There is no longer any union participation in this area. Quite simply, the forum no longer exists.”

The RSPCA said in a statement: “The Wellbeing Action Group has not been disbanded – in fact, we are expanding its membership to include a wider range of people and ensure it can be even more effective in addressing wellbeing issues.

“The Wellbeing group has already been crucial in some important steps forward within the RSPCA, including informing a new Respect Policy which our new board, which met for the first time yesterday, approved unanimously.

“There are already a range of policies and procedures in place to safeguard staff and protect their wellbeing and this new policy provides a clear statement of the Society’s committment to eradicating all, and any, forms of bullying, harrassment and discrimination.”

Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the RSPCA, spoke out following the damning survey last year.

“I am deeply troubled by the findings and take them extremely seriously,” he said.

“There is absolutely no place for bullying of any nature within the RSPCA.

“I have recruited a new director of people and culture who is looking at all aspects of staff wellbeing. We will be working on training all of our managers to the highest possible standard and will also shortly be launching a wellbeing action group which will work with Unite to review all relevant policies and explore fresh ways to ensure that anyone can raise a concern and access support.

“I am determined that the RSPCA will be a rewarding, compassionate and empowering environment in which to work and volunteer.

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