Call for inquiry into bullying at airports

The
Amicus union has called for an inquiry into working practices in the aviation
industry after a specially set up hotline revealed a culture of bullying and
abuse at Heathrow and Gatwick.

The
hotline, set up at the two airports by workplace bullying specialists the
Andrea Adams Trust, was in operation for two weeks in July. In that short time,
it received calls from more than 150 workers, 91 per cent of whom were from
ethnic minorities.

The
most extreme report was from a young woman who claimed she was locked in a cold
store for 15 minutes to ‘teach her a lesson’ after she complained about another
employee touching her inappropriately.

The
majority of cases involved individuals reporting comments regarding colour and
religion who felt they were not integrated into the main group because of their
ethnicity.

One
manager said that while he recognised that bullying behaviours could be seen
all around the airport, most victims kept their heads down and got on with
their work.

This,
warned Amicus, was a result of a genuine fear of raising a complaint of
bullying, as staff felt it would lead to either further intimidation or losing
their jobs.

Gordon
White, national secretary for civil aviation at Amicus, said: "Bullying is
a disaster for morale, attendance and productivity. We are calling upon
employers to get their houses in order for the sake of their staff and their
businesses.  We will be writing to
employers and we expect them to work with the union to boot the bullies out of
the airports."

Amicus,
which has received £1.8m of funding from the DTI to work with employers to
tackle workplace bullying, is writing to all airport businesses where the union
has recognition to invite them to work with it to tackle the root causes of
bullying.

Look out for the results of a Personnel
Today in-depth workplace bullying survey, carried out with the Andrea Adams
Trust, on 28 September

By
Daniel Thomas

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