Workplace Pressure 'As High as It's Ever Been' Bullying and Intimidation Rife So Workers Need Strong Unions, Says Stalwart

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Griffin Business

PRESSURES at work are 'as bad as they have ever been', with bullying and workplace intimidation rife, says one of the West Midlands' longest-serving union officials. John Partridge, who recently retired as Unite regional official after more than 35 years with the union, says bully boy management is a fact of life in some workplaces in the 21st century.

But he said workers were less likely to tolerate heavy-handed tactics, and would call in the union if the pressures became overbearing. Mr Partridge, aged 65, recently retired as regional official with Unite based in Broad Street, Birmingham, ending a union career which began on July 3 1978 at West Bromwich as a research assistant with the TGWU.

A stalwart Labour Party member who served on Solihull Council for four years in the late 1970s, Mr Partridge stood as the Labour parliamentary candidate in Sutton Coldfield in 1979 - the year Margaret Thatcher came to power - but came third behind victorious Tory Norman Fowler and the Liberals.

"After the 1979 election I was mulling over what to do and that was the end of politics, although I have been a Labour Party member ever since.

"I still see the union's value at helping out people at work who are really very vulnerable sometimes and might not be able to help themselves. A lot of people do require that kind of expertise, knowledge of the law, etc.

"I think pressure at work is as bad now as it has ever been, in terms of the hours that people are putting in and how hard they are working. But treated fairly in the workplace, most workers will do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.

"There is more pressure than ever on people these days. I have seen it in our office - most afternoons, the office would slip off and if you wanted to get hold of them, they would be in the pub.

"Now, you never find people slipping off, and I think that is true in so many walks of life. The things that were permissible then would be regarded with disbelief.

"There is never an excuse to bully people - you do not get the best out of people if you treat them like s**t. "Bullying has multiplied throughout industry - 35 years ago, the cases of people being bullied at work were few and far between.

"But now people are less willing to try to cope with it themselves. …