Clumsy question raises HR hackles

Visitors
to the PersonnelToday.com website have taken exception to the wording of an
online poll.

The
online survey which ran from 24 to 30 April 2001 asked, "Tube strikes
prevent nurses and other key workers from getting to work. They also cost
businesses millions. Should tube workers be legally prevented from striking?"

Ann
Wardrobe, personnel assistant at the Institute of Neurology at University
College London, emailed the site to say, "Strikes are an indication of the
state of industrial relations: to stop certain workers from taking strike
action just serves to mask serious problems and issues, it also makes it almost
impossible for tube workers to hi-light safety issues that it’s in all our
interests to be aware of – private industry included."

Bruno
Davey wrote, "Of course the tube staff should be able to strike. Employers
should remember that these current strikes are being implemented not only to
safeguard RMT member’s jobs but also to protect the public from the safety
risks which the Government’s proposed public/private partnership may cause. You
would have thought that employers would appreciate this concern and applaud the
fact that RMT members were prepared to take a drop in income (no matter how
slight) to highlight these very real dangers. And is it really that big a deal
if staff work from home or have an extra day off. You would have thought most
people would have appreciated this."

Samantha
Fothergill expressed surprise at the phrasing of the question. "It
certainly is not objective and so I would be surprised if it would be taken as
a serious indicator of the mood of HR professionals in London on the issue."

Mark
Godfrey said, "I must object to the loaded manner in which you have
phrased the current survey. The fact that it is a near 50/50 response makes me
wonder how the result would have gone if you had asked instead ‘In a democracy
every citizen should have the right to withdraw their labour. Do you think tube
workers…’.

 Surely you aren’t so desperate to generate a
catchy headline that you have to resort to this sort of device?"

Andrew
Rogers, editor of PersonnelToday.com said, "If we thought Personnel Today
readers might have been swayed by such a shamelessly leading question, we
wouldn’t have phrased it that way."

At
the close of the poll, the votes were split exactly 50/50.

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