Domestic abuse charity’s staff to strike amid bullying allegations and sackings

Glasgow East Women’s Aid workers have unanimously voted to strike amid staff sackings and allegations of bullying at the charity, which supports women and children impacted by domestic abuse.

The action has been agreed by staff members belonging to the union Unite, which is to also launch legal action on behalf of five of its members it says have been dismissed by the charity during the strike ballot period.

Unite is claiming that the five workers’ treatment is unfair as their dismissals were “specifically linked to their trade union activities”.

“Unite will not tolerate any of our members at Glasgow East Women’s Aid being targeted and dismissed due to raising legitimate concerns about their workplace,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

“These dismissals shockingly took place during an industrial action ballot, and there is no doubt this move was designed to undermine the ballot process.”

“Unite has launched unfair dismissal claims on behalf of our five members. Be in no doubt we will be holding the organisation’s management to account for its disgraceful behaviour and potentially illegal attitude to its staff.”

The sackings are also “an apparent drive to undermine the union following support” to members who have been suspended amid allegations of bullying at the charity, claims Unite.

A total of 13 of the union’s members at the charity have been suspended. All are “highly trained women and children’s support workers who provide critical and lifesaving services for women and children experiencing domestic abuse”, said the union.

Unite, is calling for Glasgow East Women’s Aid’s funders Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government” to intervene on behalf of service users and staff.

“Events at Glasgow East Women’s Aid have turned from bad to worse,” claims Unite industrial officer Linda Wilson.

“We believe our members have been targeted for attempting to raise legitimate concerns about the service, and for exercising their rights by involving their union in this dispute.

“We will now consider our next steps following our members’ emphatic support for strike action.

“The organisation’s funders including Glasgow City Council and the Scottish government should be immediately stepping in because it is public money which allows the centre to run. As funders they should be demanding answers and holding this rouge employer to account.”

'Complex situation'

Glasgow East Women’s Aid said "this is an extremely complex situation".

"All employees, including those going on strike, are the very individuals who have been the subject of those grievances which Unite refer to as being about bullying," said a statement from the charity's directors.

"Similarly, Unite and employees have claimed they are going on strike due to the board not investigating internal HR issues. Again, this is completely wrong. In actuality, the board instructed an external HR investigation in September that is still on-going.

"The employees are now expressing that the investigation is not moving as fast as they would like despite it only having been around two months.

"This may seem like a while; however, it needs to be understood that it will take time to complete a comprehensive independent HR investigation into over 15 individuals, over a course of complaints that they have brought to the forefront, referring to alleged behaviour that is many years old. Strike action is not justified and ironically could delay the investigation.

The statement adds: "The Board has made every possible effort to resolve issues and continue to support employees through external counselling, but employees are ignoring our attempts at resolution.

"We are now at a highly regrettable stage where we are trying to resolve matters with our employees, but they refuse to communicate with us directly. Therefore, we are at a loss as to how else we can resolve matters with these valuable workers.’

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