So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."

Saturday, 30 March 2013

WEEK 270 Happy Easter

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been longing for Easter. I’ve got my favourite Easter egg, some good books to read and my TV guide. It’s time to chill out for a couple of days. Anyone who’s being bullied at work will be desperate for the break too. 

So kudos to the NUJ and Bectu for organising a BBC strike last Thursday, followed by a week of working to rule over bullying. Unions deliberately chose the Bank Holiday, affecting various programmes and news bulletins. They are objecting to the Delivering Quality First objective (DQF), which will see 2,000 BBC staff lose their jobs, whilst the rest have to deliver the same level of quality previously maintained with full staffing levels. The unions have made it clear they are aware that DQF is being used to bully and harass staff into taking on unreasonable workloads or face unemployment.  

I, for one, will be chomping through my Cadbury Buttons Easter Egg, welcoming disruption to the TV schedules and applauding the fact that people are speaking up.

Happy Easter everyone!
Very best

Saturday, 23 March 2013

WEEK 269 Private Eye

Last week, I wrote about a strange request for video footage taken by bullied employees. This week, it’s quite the reverse. Is it me or is employer surveillance becoming more common? An article written by a friend of mine, @ShiptonMartin, exposing a South Wales Council after they spent £110,000 on private investigators, made me think.

There were seeds of it at my old firm, but management did the snooping themselves. Occasionally, someone would sneak out to drive past an employee’s house to see if their car was on the drive after they phoned in sick. Didn’t they have enough work to do, I wondered?

Now it seems it’s becoming more common for firms to actually employ investigators to spy on staff. I wonder if it’s to do with Vince Cable’s culture of suspicion. Cable has introduced a number of measures to curb what he perceives to be a veritable army of rogue employees bleeding businesses dry with sickness absence, spurious claims of bullying and harassment and an eye out for soft employers they can exploit. It’s going too far. Businesses are cagey with their staff and what’s happening is a self fulfilling prophecy. Staff who know they’re not trusted will have little loyalty to the firm that employs them.

Trust is at the heart of every employment contract. Legally, the contract can be void because of a clear breach of trust on either side. And employee surveillance already sits in a murky area of law after the Government’s restrictions on such practices. If Vince Cable could just move away from his employee deficit model and remind UK businesses of the positives - that the vast majority of employees work hard and want their jobs - we might get somewhere. 

Very best

Saturday, 16 March 2013

WEEK 268 Video Killed the Radio Star?

A strange thing happened this week. A while ago, I was asked if I was interested in being involved anonymously in a workplace bullying documentary pitched at BBC Three. I’m sure a number of people were approached. I said yes, of course. An exchange of emails followed, culminating in a request for video footage of the bullying. That brought me up short. Video footage? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? They can’t get the programme commissioned without it, they said. But that’s like saying they can’t get the programme commissioned without the person who bullied me accompanying them to the BBC Three pitch to demonstrate his techniques. 

I couldn’t get my head around it. All day, the same thing kept floating through my head. 

Video footage?

Perhaps it’s a joke, I thought. I’ve never heard of someone taking video footage. What am I? Panorama? How would you pull off such a thing? How could you get away with walking around work with a video camera running in your tote? Would you ask your bully to stand still and pull a smile? It’s the craziest thing I’ve heard in a long time. 

Covertly tape recording people in work will get you fired if caught – but you could explain yourself and it will help if the recording proves bullying. And at least you don’t have to actually find a way to point the device at the person you’re recording. There’s also a degree of anonymity with audio. Innocent colleagues inadvertently recorded are unlikely to be identified outside the remit of the office.

Filming colleagues on camera makes no sense at all. You’d never be able to use it in the public domain and your firm would probably find a way to prosecute – especially if some innocent colleague or company logo is caught in the background. 

So I can’t understand the motives behind the people trying to commission the BBC bullying documentary. Surely they want to get people on board by showing their understanding of the subject? Instead, they’ve had me scratching my head wondering what’s going on. If they do get commissioned, I do hope their programme isn’t as perplexing.

Very best 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

WEEK 267 The Best Bullying Buzzwords

Thanks so much to everybody who contributed to my management bullying buzzwords request on Twitter. I’ve had an insightful week reading through your tweets! You’ve reminded me of many I’ve heard myself over time and there are a few which are growing in popularity by the day. Do enjoy the fine examples of bullying euphemisms and excuses below and don’t forget to listen out when you’re next in work!

It’s Not Bullying – It’s Just That...
I'm just being honest. @RomyBoPa
It's a personality clash. @my_thoughts_r / @WeezyDJ2
It’s only a joke. @catheresults
You’re paranoid. @RJBuxton
It’s developmental/critical feedback @SammyGee74
We push hard for success. @iHealthP

Subtle Admission of Bullying with Dodged Responsibility
There are some strong characters in the department, but you can look after yourself, right? @Anaesthesia
You have to deal with different personalities in order to be professional. @LoloMino
You need to stand up for yourself. @LoloMino
That's just him/her being him/her. We all know what he/she is like. @ScruffyPia
There are some issues around effective communication @AFlawn
Misunderstanding occurred @InHealthAssoc
It’s robust performance management  @InHealthAssoc
Mistakes were made @wildwomanfund

It’s You, Not Us
We’ve taken 360 degree feedback. @KevinCarson1
We pay you to know what to do. @RJBuxton
I'm sorry YOU feel like that. @JoinedU1
His aggression can be hard to manage. @Myshcka
You're creating a lot of work for us. @drunacoales
She didn’t mean it that way. @urbanphish
No-one else has complained. @PartlyPirate

Who Knew You Were Being Bullied?
I [the manager] let the staff/ team do the hiring and firing @LibraryWeb

The Punch You Don’t See Coming...
The proposed cuts present you with a real opportunity. If you're up to it. @NHSWhistleblower
We'll be talking about this when you get back from holiday. Have a lovely time. @NHSWhistleblower

If you don't like it, you know what you can do. @Markus_Brutus
I get results. Are you on my team or not?" @iHealthP
I'm not going to argue about it with you. @samj12
I don't mean to make an example of...but... @3Jeeps3
I expect you to know how to do this. @3Jeeps3
I am not concerned about what you are doing today. I want to know what you want to be doing in 5 years." @3Jeeps3
If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. @ceallaighuncut
If you’re not working more than 40 hours you are not doing your job. @3Jeeps3

Pure Management Speak
Icebreakers – Probing for personal information. @OpenDoorTherapy
Micro Manage @HorshamiteHarry
At the managers discretion @PartlyPirate
Delivering change in tough times @SZeitblom
Managing sickness in line with established best practice @SZeitblom
Employees fire themselves." @HitlerPuncher
Very best wishes

Saturday, 2 March 2013

WEEK 266 Press Release

Kudos to anyone who takes the time to write down their experiences in order to help others. It’s a labour of love. A friend of mine is now trying to get the word out about her new book and, naturally, I offered to feature it in my blog. Here’s a snapshot of the press release:

Is Britain like a totalitarian country?
Is there an area of life here where dissidents can be abused, psychologically broken, banished and then silenced so they can’t tell their story?

Replace the word ‘dissident’ with ‘whistleblower’ and the answer is yes. The misuse of Compromise Agreements to silence whistleblowers has come to light since the former NHS manager Gary Walker decided to break his gagging order. But this is not just a problem in the NHS. Another example is the Wirral whistleblowing social worker Martin Morton who was harassed from his job, forced to resign, gagged and driven to the point of suicide. Martin Morton has bravely refused to comply with his gagging order.

It's a heartbreaking tale of an employee who spoke to a manager with concerns about quality of care. What followed was a witch hunt to expel her from the organisation. Despite putting up a tough resistance she was finally hounded out and gagged. If you would like more information please contact me via blog, Twitter or email and I will pass on your details. 

Good luck to our friend!

Very best wishes
Bottom Swirl