Bullying at Work: A Study of Black Workers in English Local Government
The reform of the public services in the UK is called 'modernisation'. This forms part of a set of neo-liberal policies pursued by the Labour Government since 1997. As these services tend to be labour intensive and the quality of the provision locally determined, so the heart of reforms impinge directly on labour management issues. We used a Braverman style labour process analysis to examine in detail how managers in the English local government service were implementing the range of practices known as New Public Management. In particular this study examined the use of bullying by managers as part of their strategy of change implementation; and within that we looked at the fate of black workers as possibly the most vulnerable to such actions. We did this through the use of a large-scale questionnaire in five authorities followed up by in-depth interviews with those most at risk. We concluded that the reforms did make it harder for managers to reach their targets, and this encouraged them to push down on their staff. In turn there was evidence that black workers were in a worse position than their white colleagues despite strong trade unions, and clear employer guidelines on discrimination and bullying.
Keywords: Black Workers, Bullying, Local Government
Prof. Roger Seifert
Professor of Industrial Relations, School of Economic and Management Studies, Keele University
Professor of industrial relations at Keele University since 1993
Author of books and papers on labour issues and reforms in the public sector; strikes in the UK; and the role of the 'left' in the labour movement.