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."

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Four Seasons (or the Legacy of Vince Cable and David Cameron)


In November, I’ll be going into a month of hibernation from social media as I’m embarking on the NaNoWriMo writing challenge – 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Ouch! Before I go (and I’ll be back in December), I wanted to reflect on the legacy of former Work and Pension Secretary, Vince Cable, and look at the potential future legacy of David Cameron.

 Vince Cable may be gone, but the process he began of moving power away from the employee to employers continues.

 In a previous blog, I wrote about the tribunal fees which were introduced by Cable in the summer of 2013. Employees now have to pay up to £1,200 to take their claim to the employment tribunal. Cable argued that this would deter around 25 per cent of employees.

 The drop in employees able to afford the tribunal route turned out to be a lot bigger, closer to 80 per cent. For employers, this nut wasn’t just cracked, it was oven roasted and then blitzed in a Tory food processor.

 Employees had one defence left, it seemed: union membership. Unions can help represent you at tribunal and even help towards the cost of the tribunal fee. However, a moderate amount of strikes involving London Underground, civil servants and teachers has seen the government reaching for its sledgehammer again. The sledgehammer has a name: The Trade Union Bill.

 I came across an interesting article by Adam Bienkov at: http://politics.co.uk/blogs/2015/05/29/the-government-are-trying-to-kill-off-the-trade-union-moveme. Bienkov cautions that it’s easy to lose sight of the main agenda in the technically complex Trade Union Bill. He writes:

 It is about damaging the basic ability of working and middle class people to campaign for good pay and employment rights...It will hamper any future campaigns for a living wage, or against exploitative contracts and discrimination. Basically any union campaign that can in any way be judged as political will have its funding restricted by this law.’

 Even if you’re in a union, if the Tories win this battle, the only help you’ll get in terms of employment is an official with their hands tied behind their back and a pair of ears to listen to you.

I sense there’s more behind this sledgehammer mentality. This isn’t the winter of discontent of the 1970s, but with deeper austerity cuts on the way, perhaps the tribunal fees and the Trade Union Bill are preparatory work. Perhaps the end game is to try and ensure mass discontent is not given a voice in the coming months and years. I’m pretty sure David Cameron doesn’t want his legacy to be a winter of discontent. He may be underestimating anyway if the austerity measures get worse. His legacy looks more likely to be the Four Seasons of discontent.
That said, the battle isn’t over yet. Come on, the unions!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A-STAR



I don’t normally write about school bullying, but an article on the front page of the Sunday Times was so astonishing, I couldn’t let it pass. Corpus Christi Roman Catholic High School in Cardiff is apparently considering legal action after a pupil covertly recorded the bullying she was going through over a two week period. The footage was to be used for a programme on bullying being made for ITV.




The pupil’s parents allowed the secret filming and the girl’s mother explains to the Sunday Times how it was a last resort since all other measures to tackle the bullying had failed. The aim of the programme was to show the footage to the school and participants in order to instigate positive change.

The school is said to be furious and calling in the lawyers.

If they are furious, then it should be over the fact that a pupil at their school was so badly bullied for two years that she resorted to undercover techniques to expose the problem. I’m sure it’s tough to swallow for a school with the sterling reputation of Corpus Christi, but such evidence is pretty impossible to deny. They can wring their hands all they want about the Human Rights Act and right to privacy, but the situation should not have been left to get that bad. 

Now, you might be asking why am I so outraged about this particular incident when school bullying also needs to be highlighted, but I normally restrict myself to writing about workplace bullying?

That’s because I went there. I’m a former pupil. (And before the lawyers say it is a breach of my own anonymity to reveal this fact, it's a big school and you'd have to try hard to narrow down exactly which pupil I was).

I can tell you all about bullying at that school. I don’t like to dwell on it and I have to say friends of mine suffered even worse than I did. An ironic fact, given that I write about bullying, is that my friends and I suffered particularly in the English class, although bullying was pretty much an everyday occurrence. 

In one English lesson, the class were provoking my friend and I before the teacher arrived. The taunting escalated and we did our best to ignore it. In the end, my friend couldn’t take any more and told them to leave her alone. She was, as a result, given an almighty slap across the face. A group of girls threatened her further before the teacher walked in. How she sat through the rest of the class with the splayed handprint burning on her cheek, I’ll never know. How on earth were we supposed to concentrate on the actual lessons? Not surprisingly, I couldn’t wait to leave.

There was one kind teacher who let us shelter in his classroom at breaktimes. He kept a watchful eye on us – as much as he could. He later became the head teacher, but has since retired.

Corpus Christi Roman Catholic High School can talk all they want about being ambushed, but I want to give an A* to that girl with her backpack. She can I'm sure, like my friend and I in the English class, tell the head teacher and governors about what it's really like to be ambushed.

Friday, 30 January 2015

The Magic Pill



Along the way, I’ve given lots of advice on how to cope with workplace bullying and how to move on, but I’ve never been able to prescribe a magic pill: that elusive panacea that can put all things right.


I resigned myself to the sad fact that there were some unpleasant truths targets of workplace bullying have to learn to live with. 

Over the last year, there has been a significant challenge to this mindset and, as a result, I find myself unusually sentimental. A former boss and partner in a law firm has done something completely unexpected. I’ve talked of this boss previously in blog posts. After giving it some thought, he offered to try and put things right for me. At first, I suspected it would only be a month or two before he changed his mind or made his excuses and disappeared. 

On the contrary, he only grew more determined. While it’s fantastic that the legal issues have been successfully resolved, my sentiment stems from how touched I am by his commitment and how vehemently he argued on my behalf. I didn’t realise how much I needed that. I didn’t realise how much emotional baggage I was quietly still dragging around with me. The workplace bullying I went through and the initial attempt to take action was a grim period, but one that is firmly in the past and I can even say, largely thanks to him, that everything worked out in the end. I’m able to say I’m over it.

So this week, I thought it would be good to remind ourselves of the good bosses out there – and they are out there – the bosses who support staff who are seriously ill or going through a time of personal upheaval. These are bosses who know that hard times can be temporary and gratitude is often long lasting. It’s easy to forget these great bosses are out there when you’re working for someone who is a sadistic so-and-so. It’s so easy to think: ‘better the devil you know’. 

I didn’t ever say I had the answer to workplace bullying but, take it from me, a great boss is the antidote. Make it your mission to go and find one!

Very best wishes
BBTB
Bottom Swirl