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unhappy with union rep and grievance advice

(41 Posts)
rachelzane Sun 07-Apr-19 14:03:36

I want to raise a formal grievance against my employer but my union rep is actively discouraging it, despite me speaking to her several times over the years about the way I'm being treated and always trying to deal with it informally.

I do not feel an informal approach is working anymore, as the situation keeps reoccuring. I also feel that as it includes discrimination which I can evidence, and fraud amongst other things, then an informal approach is not right.

AIBU to be annoyed with my union rep? Our company (public sector) pushes informal approach then 3 stages of formal (if informal doesn't work).

I have tried to email my manager's manager and request a meeting so I have tried informal again but my requests to meet have not been responded to. I am awaiting an OH referral as I am signed off sick with stress.

This has been going on for years and I've had enough. I don't want to take an informal approach then 6 months later, the same thing happens again, which is always the case. It is starting to seriously affect my health, hence the sick leave.

My family are pushing the informal approach too because of the extra stress it would cause me (and the risk of being forced to leave and have no income).

I don't know what to do and I feel really let down by everyone. The thought of going back to work and listening to my manager denying everything and seeing her spineless manager accepting her lies, is just making me more ill.

Does anyone have any advice? I am due to meet with my union rep prior to my expected date of return from sick leave to discuss what to say when I meet with my manager (I don't want to meet my manager, I want a new manager amongst other things but her manager wants me to talk it over with her despite the bullying and discrimination, including whilst I was on sick leave!)

I'm v upset by it all.

AgentProvocateur Sun 07-Apr-19 16:12:03

If you have evidence of fraud, you should use the whistleblowing policy to report it rather than the grievance procedure.

Isleepinahedgefund Sun 07-Apr-19 16:34:09

OP, I have been in a (second) similar situation with an awful bully line manager, I got moved away to another team by just making a massive fuss but my two colleagues had to resort to the grievance process to get a change of line management. The remedy they both asked for, and got, was a change of line manager. So it's not impossible and certainly does/can happen.

However: I want to pick up on where you say that if you leave she wins. In the situation I described above, I had the same attitude and even though I "won", if I could do the time again I would have left rather than got further into the incredibly toxic situation. The whole experience did lasting damage to my mental health. You have to know when to cut your losses and do what's going to serve you best in the long run. It took me 10 of the last 12 years to recover emotionally and career wise from that. I spent that time being labelled as a nuisance and a trouble maker rather than receiving sympathy for the absolute horrors that manager put me and my colleagues through and that people saw first hand because it was very public. My colleagues suffered similarly.

rachelzane Sun 07-Apr-19 19:30:21


You could be me. One of the reasons I am in this current role is because of a horrible manager/team in another department. It also damaged my mental health and took me 6 years to recover emotionally and career wise - which I thought I had done when I got this job.

My manager was not my manager when I first got this job. She was originally a colleague, then 2 years ago she became my manager and started chipping away at my self esteem and I now find myself going backwards again.

I seem to be a magnet for bullying and discrimination. I'm scared to do yet another sideways move in case it's no better. She's got me wondering "is it me?" She gaslights me, she's the very definition of gaslighting.

I simply cannot allow myself to keep being treated this way. I feel so angry at how I'm being treated and so angry at the lack of understanding, empathy and support from others.

daisychain01 Sun 07-Apr-19 21:01:11

I don't think it's you necessarily, there is definitely an increasing proportion of aggressive, narcissistic people in public and private sector nowadays.

Sometimes people do not know how they come across to others, nor the effect they have on people, other times they enjoy the feeling of power and abuse their authority to the max, often deluded in thinking they will make people work harder, faster, more productively. Quite the reverse.

Do you have a Diversity and Inclusion Rep? These tend to be HR support advisors with specialist knowledge of how to handle tricky situations where there is evidence of discrimination and harassment. In my organisation, they can be helpful to get on-side, as they can provide informal non-partisan feedback on scenarios to help determine whether they are or are not discriminatory/ harassment and why.

Basically, you produce your own documentary evidence about your concerns, then run through it with the D+I advisor, who assesses the details and are meant to give an unbiased factual assessment of the situation.

Reality is it depends on how seriously the organisation takes B+H. If they exercise a zero tolerance approach, they are more likely to take it seriousl, but it does need tenacity and keeping everything factual and being willing to meet the organisation half-way. Even though you feel the manager is 100% in the wrong, there needs to be a willingness to see the other perspective, "give a bit, get a bit". What you want them to see is that harm is being done to a valuable asset, i.e. you, so being the bigger person can really help move things forward.

It's impossible to describe how appalling it is to be bullied by someone who has the power to make or break your career. You have my absolute empathy, but stay strong, you do have 'right to reply' even if you have to come up against a brick wall or two along the way.

Sorry this was War and Peace :-D

daisychain01 Sun 07-Apr-19 21:18:20

a new line manager (but not a new role as I like the role)

I'm trying to think how viable this would be. It would involve the Manager either being dismissed, or moving them elsewhere, in order to meet your desired outcome.

This could be massively disruptive when, potentially the perception is that the Manager is delivering to their Objectives. It would involve a chain of activities, including putting a new manager in post in short order, and them picking up the reins.

In your position I would quite frankly accept a move to the same grade of role but elsewhere. It would be a move to safety, no more stress and the ability to start afresh with a new team, not tainted by the negative associations of what had gone before.

I've known people to be willing to sacrifice pay increase, bonus and completion of objectives, just to be transferred away from a negative incompetent manager. In each case, they were very glad they made the move and felt happier for it.

daisychain01 Sun 07-Apr-19 21:20:41

^ a transfer is significantly more achieveable in public sector, where there are mirror roles across the organisation. There's always "10 or 15 of everything" smile

rachelzane Sun 07-Apr-19 22:00:02

thank you @daisychain01

Our D&I team are useless, I know more about D&I than they do and that's no joke. They literally have come to me for advice before. I am the company's poster girl for diversity! you couldn't make it up!

We are a small team/department and there are others at her grade who could take on the management role with minimal disruption.

I really do not want to change jobs because in this role I get lots of praise, positive feedback, have won awards etc, which I never did before, yet my manager thinks I do not do enough or do good enough. I worry that I will become invisible again if I leave this role. Plus I really do enjoy it, it's my 'thing' which previous roles were not.

Jimdandy Sun 07-Apr-19 22:08:30

Unions are useless for help with employment issues. Get proper advice from somebody qualified not someone who has been on a 2 day training course.

daisychain01 Sun 07-Apr-19 23:23:13

The permanent state of anger will take its toll on your health the longer you stay in the environment causing it. Is it really worth it, if you've already explored all options. Only you know how much you can put up with.

rickandmorts Sun 07-Apr-19 23:30:28

Another union rep here! You need to go back to your branch and request your area or regional rep who works for the union, not just a workplace steward. I'm surprised this hasn't been suggested yet to you!! I've recently repped a member and they had to go before a HR panel and as standard for anything like this I got the regional rep to come too as they're much more experienced and knowledgable than me.

GlitterNails Sun 07-Apr-19 23:47:24

I’ve been through this exact situation and I was able to fund a case through my house insurance which had legal cover. My union were also terrible and left me to do it all myself.

I had to put in a grievance before I handed in my notice then I took them to court for disability discrimination. It’s going to be really hard while still working there but you have every right to get support.

People don’t realise how hard it is being disabled in the workplace a lot of the time. Not only do you have the health issues but the bullying, politics and resentment that goes alongside it in various form. It’s beyond exhausting.

clairemcnam Mon 08-Apr-19 00:52:59

Are the other adjustments recommended by OH realistic? I ask because I had OH recommending adjustments that I knew were never going to happen because of logistics, and indeed they didn't.
OH say what should happen ideally. Managers look at what is reasonable.
I have managed a team of managers and I would not want someone in a team being managed by a different manager. It is disruptive to team working. I totally understand where you are coming from. But either someone is capable of being a manager, or they are not, and this would affect all team members.

rachelzane Mon 08-Apr-19 08:41:29

Yes the OH recommendations are reasonable and relate to things like additional breaks, ability to work from home, notes in advance, someone to scribe for me, particular seating arrangements etc

@glitternails you understand my situation perfectly then. It is indeed very exhausting. Having to explain everything, justify behaviours that relate to my disabilities, having to listen to what others think is reasonable and unreasonable, having to constantly remind has just really worn me down to the point where I am now on sick leave.

I don't have legal cover on my house insurance

LakieLady Mon 08-Apr-19 08:51:49

And the thought of mediation makes me anxious - it'll just become a shouting match full of denials etc.

Unless you have a woefully incompetent mediator, that absolutely won't happen. If mediation is suggested, I'd strongly advise you to agree to it. If you don't, it will look as though you are being obstructive.

Would you be allowed to record 121's on your phone? That would almost certainly stop your manager from saying awful things. But taking contemporaneous notes of what is said would be the next best thing.

As well as checking the whistleblowing policy, it's worth checking if they have an anti-bullying policy, and what it says. If they do, and they haven't complied, you should raise the issues again making very clear that you regard it as a bullying matter, as well as a discrimination issue.

WutheringTights Mon 08-Apr-19 09:01:58

I'm a charitable trustee. I was in a situation where an employee raised a grievance against another staff member. It was investigated properly by outside HR advisers and the perpetrator was eventually dismissed for gross misconduct. In that case though the perpetrator was a known trouble maker and interviews with staff revealed multiple cases of bullying and harassment. So, it does work, but the bar is pretty high for dismissal, which is as it should be. Hope that helps.

WeeDangerousSpike Mon 08-Apr-19 10:11:07

I'm wishing you all the best. I've suffered mild disability discrimination in the past, from people that didn't really understand what they were doing. It all got sorted very quickly, but even the short time it was going on was all consuming and awful.

I've also suffered from incompetent and dishonest management, leading to months off work with stress and almost a complete breakdown.

In my case it wasn't malicious, just complete inability to be a functional manager or accept their shortcomings. (and it wasn't just me, they'd manage a team, relations would break down, new manager appointed, after a while they'd manage another team, rinse and repeat.

You've had what looks like some good advice, I hope it resolves for you as best it can.

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