October 23, 2015

Bullying of staff in regional universities is a serious problem that needs addressing - Australia

A study of more than 22,000 university staff shows that academics in regional universities were more likely to experience bullying compared to those at other types of universities.

The survey, which looked at working life in 19 different universities across Australia, was set up to test whether the anecdotal complaints of colleagues at regional universities was anything more than the traditional complaints of academics about freedom, autonomy and managerialism.
What did the study show?

This was the first study of its kind to look at bullying across a range of Australian universities. Overall, 28 per cent of academics reported being bullied, with 12 per cent saying the bullying they experienced was serious enough to consider taking a formal case.

However, people were reluctant to take action as they felt pursing the matter would only make things worse.

The rate of bullying varied a lot across different types of universities. One third (36 per cent) of academic staff at the four regional universities reporting being bullied, 1.5 times more than in the five Group of Eight — the most prestigious — universities.

Disturbingly, 42 per cent of staff at one regional university said they had been bullied. Academics reported being publicly humiliated, excluded, intimidated and discriminated against.

Given the well-documented impact of bullying on physical and emotional well-being, these figures are shocking.

The institutional effects are also worrying. Workplace bullying damages productivity and reputation and can be seriously costly to universities.

Work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying has a direct cost of around $18,000 per claim, according to Safe Work Australia — and this is without considering the indirect costs to productivity and staff turnover.

Given the recent changes in legislation, which requires employers to demonstrate they have been proactive in addressing workplace health and safety issues, it's critical to understand what might be contributing to these toxic work places.

Toxic work environments

The research showed that Aboriginal Australians, people from ethnic minority groups, women, and those with family commitments were more likely to be bullied.

Evidence of nepotism was also evident, with individuals who were appointed by a competitive process reporting more harassment than those who weren't. And this was more common in regional universities.

Health and safety regulations require senior management to act to reduce workplace health hazards. But it's likely that at least some senior managers of these institutions are modelling and enabling the bullying and harassment reported in this survey, without senior level support, a culture of bullying would not thrive.

How to change this culture of bullying

Changing a culture that propagates bullying and harassment, even with a determined cross-organisation effort, is a long-term endeavour.

Using guidance from Safe Work Australia on how to prevent and manage bullying in the workplace, going forward, universities need to:
  • Set the standard for appropriate behaviour — Senior management need to set and enforce clear standards of behaviour through a code of conduct or a workplace policy that outlines what is and is not appropriate behaviour. They also need to state what action will be taken to deal with unacceptable behaviour. Unfortunately, many university policies currently require the victim to make a complaint to the probable bully as a first step.
  • Develop positive workplace relationships — Universities need to promote positive leadership styles by providing training for managers and supervisors on communicating effectively in difficult situations, including how to engage workers in decision-making "(which the survey showed has decreased over recent years in regional universities), and providing constructive feedback.
  • Implement proper reporting procedures — A victim needs to know there is a reporting process that protects them and will be acted on. Unfortunately, fear of victimisation is the most common reason given for not reporting bullying in the study.
  • Make sure reporting systems are confidential — Using systems to provide confidential anonymous information on workplace behaviour, such as university surveys, like this one in the US called The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education program, are easy to implement and safe for victims.

October 01, 2015

UCU at Ulster declare a dispute with employer

Press release

The University and Colleges Union at Ulster University have this morning declared a dispute with the employer because of a failure to properly consult over collective redundancies.
In a redundancy situation, employers are required to consult meaningfully with the recognised trade unions with a view to reaching agreement on a set of proposals that are fair and equitable. The trade unions must be consulted on avoiding dismissals, reducing the number of dismissals and mitigating the consequences of dismissals.

Ulster University Management has presented its proposals, which include course closures and the loss of significant proportions of staff in targeted areas, as a fait accompli. Immediately after the proposals were announced, rather than enter a period of statutory consultation, courses were removed from the UCAS application system. An unagreed ‘voluntary’ severance scheme was opened to some but not all staff in targeted areas and was done so before the University published its business case to the trade union. UCU does not believe this constitutes meaningful consultation.

The closing date for applications to the voluntary severance scheme time is 30th October 2015. It has been offered to selected staff simultaneous to public announcements of course and departmental closures. Individuals have been placed in an invidious position of either applying for an enhanced package ahead of and parallel to consultation, or risk a compulsory redundancy on materially worse terms. The UCU believes the employer is bullying our members and is doing so with deliberate intention of undermining a meaningful consultation process.

Anthea Irwin, president of the local association of UCU at Ulster, said, ‘UCU are deeply saddened to have been forced into declaring a dispute with the University but we cannot stand by and allow our management to steamroller through a set of proposals that lack rationale, unfairly target colleagues in particular areas, and threaten the breadth of education we offer to our young people.

‘This should be a time of vibrancy and excitement at Ulster, as our students embark upon their new year of studies with talented and dedicated staff who inspire them, support them, and prepare them to make an impact on our society. But all of this is overshadowed by the fact that our management have demonstrated that they do not respect and value us, in the way our students and their future employers do. If they did, they would have worked with us to find a better way to deal with the Stormont budget cuts.

‘UCU have repeatedly asked management to consult meaningfully with us, they have not done so, and we have been forced to declare a dispute as a last resort. It is ironic that at the time the Minister for Employment and Learning is launching his ‘big conversation’ about higher education, Ulster University management refuse to have any meaningful conversation with their employees about how to best protect and nurture that education through difficult times.

‘UCU are ready and waiting to have that conversation, but we can only do so if our management halt their unacceptable process and start again in meaningful consultation with the trade unions.’

Contact: Anthea Irwin a.irwin@ulster.ac.uk 07742889802

University of Ulster Victims Association: https://www.facebook.com/University-of-Ulster-Victims-Association-1614149405477420/timeline/

September 13, 2015

Higher Education's Silent Killer

Sometimes the antagonist isn’t wielding a gun. In this kind of attack, there is no person or event that can be met head-on with a protest or a strike. There is no explosion, no great conflict, no epic battle. Such is the case with higher education’s silent killer: the slow, incremental creep of “audit culture.” Insidious “new public management” technologies first used by the Thatcher regime to weaken the public sector are restructuring post-secondary education today.

This enemy has no public face but instead makes its appearance in the banal metrics of a standardized bookkeeping program. The corporate transformation of universities has by now been well-documented in books like The Corporate Campus (2000), Universities for Sale (1999), and, more recently, Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery (2015) and A Penny for Your Thoughts: How corporatization devalues teaching, research, and public service in Canada’s universities (2015). The capsule summary of such assessments is this: as a direct result of successive governments’ chronic underfunding of post-secondary education, the traditional university is being transformed away from an accessible institution dedicated to fostering critical, creative, and engaged citizens while generating public-interest research, to an entrepreneurial training centre churning out atomized workers and corporate-directed “R&D.”

...Audit culture is one of the more subtle aspects of the corporatization of universities. It contributes measurement and a new rise in managerialism to market in order to complete the “3M” trifecta of a fully neo liberalized academy. These forces operate in a variety of overlapping ways to affect what types of research are permissible; they determine which scholarship is legitimized and which is delegitimized. Such pressures on research have traditionally been exerted externally via corporations, foundations, and granting agencies, but the 3M trifecta has now moved with stealth to retool the everyday operations, policies, and practices of universities from the inside.The audit culture distorts scholars’ work by tabulating academic worth through the simplest algorithm: one that consid-ers, for the most part, only peer-reviewed publication, journal impact rankings, and the size of research grants. Whole realms of endeavour are devalued or left out of the equation altogether, including activities such as “slow” research, alternative forms of scholarship and dissemination, devotion to teaching, or actually acting on one’s research findings – all vital aspects of the academic enterprise...

Take participatory action research (PAR), a research methodology rooted in community engagement, collective inquiry, and on-the-ground experimentation. Under the strict publish-or-perish injunction of audit culture, I would be channelled away from projects like producing and distributing a city survival guide and map for the homeless – which I did in response to a community call as part of a PAR project – and I would be pushed instead to write a peer-reviewed paper on homelessness (to be read by few) rather than fulfilling a need that the community itself had identified. Research becomes a question of whose needs? To whose benefit? In this case, despite being in a position through my scholarship to contribute to the community in a tangible way, I’d be channelled away from community needs toward my own career demands and the requirements of an audit culture that rewards redundant scholarship...

From:  https://www.academia.edu/15061737/HIGHER_EDUCATION_S_SILENT_KILLER

August 27, 2015

Large Scottish public university rife with bullying, harassment, discrimination, and victimization

One of the largest public universities in Scotland turned out to be a nightmarish place to work. As a junior colleague I have been shouted at, threatened, made feel worthless, denied my rights, excluded as a co-author and pushed to violate grant conditions. Not only the Professor that I worked for is allowed to continue his abuse, but the Department Head sides with him. The formal investigation by HR found my ex-supervisor guilty of bullying and harassment, however the temporary arrangements are reneged upon and I am thrown into a lion’s den once again.

We are encouraged to use internal processes to resolve the matter, but with only 3 months to submit a legal complaint, they simply sit on the process and act compliant until enough time has passed and then they turn back to the same bullying tactics.

Does anyone have advice on repeated bullying, harassment, discrimination, and victimization? It is absolutely terrifying how even if the law is on my side, the only way is for me to lose my health, my career, my emotional wellbeing, damage my family relationships, lose productivity, all while the university and my supervisor feel invincible and just wait until they can demolish me completely. I can definitely tell you more about the details of my story, but I thought I would start with a short story first just to have my voice out there, to show how common abuse in academia is and how hard it is to get through, and how horrible the effect is. 


August 16, 2015

 Steven Salaita, Professor Fired for ‘Uncivil’ Tweets, Vindicated in Federal Court

A federal judge has allowed his lawsuit against the University of Illinois to proceed, and the chancellor who rescinded his appointment last year has resigned amid an ethics investigation.

There is not a little poetic justice in the fact that it was precisely at the time that a federal judge ruled that Steven Salaita’s lawsuit against the University of Illinois could go forward, against the objections of the university, that the chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus who fired Salaita in the first place announced her resignation and the local newspaper reported that she is under an ethics investigation.

Certain administrative officials at the University of Illinois used personal email to conduct university business and failed to turn over those documents during Freedom of Information Act requests, a violation of university policy, a UI probe has found. The news comes one day after Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced her resignation as chancellor. The personal emails released by the university included many from Wise, but a university spokesman declined to say whether the ethics investigation led to her departure.

Almost exactly a year ago, that paper, the Champaign News-Gazette, broke the story of Salaita’s tweets, which brought issues of academic freedom and freedom of speech to the fore, not to mention the question of whether or not speech regarding sharp and angry criticism of Israel in particular warranted a suspension of those rights and freedoms.

 As I wrote in The Nation back then, once the story of Salaita’s tweets came out, the university made a public statement supporting his right to free speech. Yet shortly after, alumni, students, and perhaps most importantly, wealthy donors began writing angry emails demanding his firing. Here is how the court ruling describes these events and Wise’s actions:

Despite the initial show of support, however, the University soon changed its tune. Letters and emails obtained via Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act revealed that students, alumni, and donors wrote to the University’s Chancellor, Phyllis Wise (“Wise”), to voice their concerns over Dr. Salaita joining the University. One writer in particular claimed to be a “multiple 6 figure donor” who would be ceasing support of the University because of Dr. Salaita and his tweets.

 Two other specific interactions are critical to Dr. Salaita’s Complaint. The first involves an unknown donor who met with Chancellor Wise and provided her a two-page memo about the situation. Wise ultimately destroyed the memo, but an email Wise sent University officials summarized it as follows: “He [the unknown donor] gave me [Chancellor Wise] a two-pager filled with information on Professor Salaita and said how we handle the situation will be very telling.” The second interaction involves a particularly wealthy donor who asked to meet with Chancellor Wise to “share his thoughts about the University’s hiring of Professor Salaita.”

The university defended its actions on two grounds, both of which the federal court has just thrown out. First, it argued that Salaita was never officially an employee of the university despite the fact that he had been offered a tenured position in a written document, was assigned courses to teach, had been given orientation materials, and had been invited out to look for housing, all customary practices in academic recruiting and hiring. Customary, too, is that one extends to one’s current employer one’s resignation so they can fill one’s position and have one’s teaching covered.

This meant that by refusing to honor its part of the agreement, the University of Illinois was rendering Salaita unemployed (and his wife as well, as she had quit her job to relocate to Urbana-Champaign) and his family without a home...

More at: http://www.thenation.com/article/steven-salaita-professor-fired-for-uncivil-tweets-vindicated-in-federal-court/

August 13, 2015

Deakin University senior staff ‘used students to target indigenous academic’

SENIOR academic staff at Deakin University are alleged to have orchestrated a campaign to remove a prominent indigenous academic that involved enlisting students, including one who was left so traumatised by the experience that she required psychiatric help.

The Australian reports that the fallout from the removal of Wendy Brabham, the head of Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education, created an atmosphere of infighting and dysfunction, characterised in one university-commissioned report as “hostile” and “unsafe”.

Reports, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, list staff grievances about a “hostile/unsafe working environment”, “intimidatory behaviour” and “bullying” at the institute which provides community-based learning for indigenous students.

A significant portion of indigenous staff have since departed the university.

Professor Brabham had led indigenous education at Deakin since 1991. She was suspended in 2013 and later dismissed.

One student, who was also a member of IKE’s staff, alleged that a senior Deakin academic administrator offered her a “Melbourne shopping weekend” in return for signing statements that assisted the university’s case.

From: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/geelong/deakin-university-senior-staff-used-students-to-target-indigenous-academic-wendy-brabham/story-fnjuhovy-1227480057399

August 03, 2015

Academics from BME backgrounds squeezed out at the top

Despite the fact that 10 per cent of research assistants are from BME backgrounds, only 6 per cent of those in academic leadership positions are from such groups.

The data, published last month by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, show that the proportion of BME academics drops by one percentage point for each step of the career ladder. By contrast, for the most part, the proportion of white academics steadily increases by more than one percentage point with each career step.

In the 2013‑14 academic year, 8 to 9 per cent of lecturers and senior lecturers and 7 per cent of professors were black or minority ethnic, according to the data. This compares with 84 to 87 per cent of lecturers and senior lecturers and 86 per cent of professors who were white.

From: https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/academics-from-bme-backgrounds-squeezed-out-at-the-top

May 30, 2015

Beating “web trolls” like Prof Mal Blunt

I was recently reminded of the sad case of the infamous internet troll, Prof Mal Blunt, formerly of Bulster University, who gained widespread notoriety by monitoring his staff via the internet. He was known as “Bulster’s grisly googler”. He is to web bullies what the police community might call an “habitual offender”. More about Prof Blunt later. This piece is meant by way of guidance to assist victims who may be encountering an on-line bully at college for the first time. Adults in the workplace are not immune to cyber bullying, which can manifest itself in many different forms. Nobody is immune to cyber bullying, but there are steps you can take and support available if you feel you have become a victim of cyber bullying at Work.

anthony-blunt-spy_1214549cFor academics unlucky enough to encounter a nasty Prof Blunt in their workplace, they should know that such creatures employ a range of different examples of bullying at work using electronic means. These would include offensive email and e-mail threats such as comments on social networking sites. Spreading lies and malicious gossip via messaging/chat. Sending an offensive e-mail to a colleague (even if it’s supposed to be a joke,) the content of which might offend the receiver.

This includes any offensive photographs which are attached to an email, and continuing to send similar messages having been asked to stop. The victim can often feel black-listed. E-mail threats can include cases where the implied meaning behind the message can constitute a form of bullying. An example of this might be where a superior is bombarding you with far more work than you can handle, saying that this is part of your job (i.e. If you don’t complete the work you may lose your job) whilst other members of the team are not being treated in the same way.

alan_sharp_reasons_why_carry_a_gunAbrasive and sharp comments may leave the victim feeling they are in a work-place war-zone. The web-trolling may also involve posting blogs and comments on social networking sites- Often a person may not experience any direct form of cyber bullying, but instead the bullies are leaving nasty or offensive comments about them on blogs and social networking sites which can be viewed by others. The comments may be about the person’s performance at work.

It can often seem that the perpetrator has his or her own secret police. Indeed the web comments do not have to be untrue – for example publishing online that a colleague lost a grant application or was caught speeding could constitute bullying as it is designed, or has the effect of embarrassing the subject. Finally, spreading lies and malicious gossip. Social networking sites and blogs are usually the most common ways in which people become victims of cyber bullying in this form. Cyber bullying can occur via any electronic means including text messages and social media (such as Facebook and Twitter).

There is a psychological explanation for cyber bullying harassment or ‘e-bullying’ as it is often referred to, and it can even occur when the person may not intend to harm you. This type of bullying is particularly concerning, as the bully is unlikely to stop their behaviour on their own, as they do not know that they are doing anything wrong. The two main types of non-intentional cyber-bullying- mis-judging Social Situations (this type of cyber-bullying has even led to cases of stalking outside work and so is particularly important to prevent at an early stage) and invasion of privacy such as sharing someone’s private data online.

How to Deal with Cyber Bullying at Work. There is always something of the socio-path about a bully. Whether it’s e-bullying or face-to-face, there are laws surrounding both harassment and bullying in the UK, and you can take legal action if you feel you have become the victim of a cyber bully. Firstly, you should try to resolve the problem with the person directly if you know their identity. In some cases, it might be true that what you thought was offensive was not perceived as such by the sender and there has been some misunderstanding. If the bullying persists, you should go and speak to a manager (or Union Representative if you have one) to discuss the situation and to obtain support. Often they will be able to speak to the bully about their behavior and tell them to stop.

imagesETMO09STConsider a Non-Molestation Order – Obviously a web-troll can quickly become a source of torture. If the bullying still does not stop at the request of your manager, and the emails/text messages are regularly being sent despite you asking the other person to stop, this may be considered harassment. If so, you might be able to obtain a non-molestation order which makes it an offence for the offending party to contact you. Obviously a court cannot prevent you seeing a colleague at work, but they can order that the offending party does not contact you out of work via email, telephone, text message or social media.

images35LAOG07We might take comfort that there is something inherently stupid about web trolling. Sadly its rarely possible simply to order the web-troller off the web. Other simple ways to prevent a colleague e-mailing or contacting you out of work include blocking their number on your phone or blocking them on your social networking site. Cyber bullying is no less unpleasant than conventional bullying. Always remember that you are protected by the law in just the same way as conventional bullying. As for external cyber bullies who are operating outside your workplace, if they are emailing your work email, your college IT department should be able to stop this activity and can also take steps to identify the perpetrators. Remember – if you are being bullied, do not suffer in silence. Tell someone who will be able to help you stand up to the bullies. Nobody should make you feel uncomfortable at your place of work.

sharp (4)Is there Protection from web bullies?  Finally we should comfort all of us who are victims of obsessive web-trollers such as Prof Blunt that there is hope that their web misery will end. Sometimes the web troll will just stop. They may get concerned by the threat of formal or legal action. Perhaps they will find another victim to subject to their trolling. Unluckily for some, other trolls continue with their subversive activities long after they or their victim have left their place of employment. We mentioned at the top of this piece, Prof Mal Blunt, whose trolling actually got worse after the intervention of a High Court Judge. It was as if Blunt was seeking to prove the Judge wrong and of course as web trolling is so hard to detect, the potential penalties are often remote. Blunt, formerly of Bulster University, has conducted an on-line campaign against a former colleague for almost two decades.

images (2)This is (thankfully) and exceptional case and Prof Blunt has been aided by his old college buddies at Bulster who were also cautioned by the Judge. In fact, this is a case where the trolling became a covert substitute for other more overt types of harassment. In such cases the victims should consider whether their interests are best represented by pursuing their web troll by legal means or disregarding them as pathetic losers who have actually destroyed their own lives with their venom.

Seen from this angle, the Prof Blunt’s of the college world may also need our compassion, and probably also need mental help.  Therefore action against web bullying should consider positive measures which may discourage offensive behavior and to find ways of empowering institutions to support staff with appropriate employment and post-employment fora. Perhaps through more effective communication we can stop bullying in the first place.

ADVISORY: This is a work of humorous parody and any similarities with persons or places real or imagined is purely a matter of coincidence. If you’ve been bullied at your F/HE institution don’t hesitate to confidentially contact the Bullied Academics forum. Victims may complain without penalty under their college procedures or consider making a complaint to their local police. Where the police are contacted bullying usually ceases immediately. The e-mail address is bullied.academics@yahoo.co.uk

May 20, 2015

Petition to the Canadian Prime Minister to open an inquiry into the cases of bullying and mobbing in Canada

In recent years Canadians have witnessed how dangerous and devastating the phenomenon of bullying and mobbing can be. For this reason the purpose of this request for a thorough inquiry into the cases of bullying and mobbing in Canada is to ensure that there are mechanisms and procedures in place to confront that evil phenomenon at the very moment its seeds start to appear.

For three reasons an appropriate starting point of this inquiry can be the case of a distressingly successful academic mobbing followed by even more alarming developments as summarized below:
  1. If academic mobbing can succeed even in a case like mine, given my academic background and experience, one can easily imagine how successful this evil phenomenon can be in other cases.

  2. Despite that the evidence presented at the arbitration hearings of my suspension case proved that there was a conspiracy at Concordia University ("There was a serious conspiracy to eliminate him from the University" - see the summary below) and that Concordia's allegations against me were completely groundless (see summary), arbitrators and lawyers acted inexplicably (see summary), which gave rise to the suspicion that organized crime in the very legal system of the Canadian province of Quebec might be involved. This suspicion was further strengthened when my lawyer told me that powerful people are behind this case and I could not win it.
  3. Not only arbitrators and lawyers acted disturbingly inexplicably by ignoring and contradicting the evidence in this case. No less inexplicable was the refusal of the Canadian media to follow the case, particularly the facts behind the suspicion of organized crime, which I think is professionally dishonest (and perhaps even immoral), because the media already covered the beginning of the case by spreading Concordia University's unfounded allegations and had the professional obligation to report on its alarming developments. An inquiry can determine whether this refusal is just another manifestation of how democratic and independent the Canadian media really are, although it clearly cannot be compared, for example, to the much more worrying inaction of the Canadian media - their virtually not informing Canadians about Canada's vote AGAINST the United Nations resolution on Combating glorification of Nazism.
Montrealers would agree that the most urgent reason for dealing particularly with academic mobbing is that not only bullying, but it too could lead to tragedies and innocent victims - academic mobbing might have been behind two tragedies involving researchers in two Montreal Universities:
  • In 1992 the Concordia University engineering professor Valery Fabrikant reached such a crazed state of the mind that he did the unthinkable - took human life.
  • In 1994 the McGill University neurology and neurosurgery professor Justine Sergent and her husband (and colleague) Yves Sergent committed suicide after a series of actions against Justine Sergent, including an anonymous letter accusing her of scientific fraud and after a report on the case by the Montreal Gazette. An inquiry after their death found no evidence of fraud.
An inquiry into the cases of bullying and mobbing in Canada should ensure that there will be no more tragedies caused by this cancerous phenomen in our society. Unfortunately, we are unable to undo the past tragedies. We will probably never learn who "A member of the Montreal academic community" was, who wrote the anonymous letter against Justine Sergent claiming that his or her colleagues "had long suspected (Dr. Sergent) of scientific fraud" and whether there were people at Concordia whose actions might have brought Fabrikant to that crazed state of his mind and might have indirectly contributed to the tragedy.

Before and in 2010 I asked Concordia's administration to investigate seriously the facts (documented actions against me) of academic mobbing, because I feared that similar mobbing practices that might have contributed to the 1992 tragedy had not yet been completely eradicated from Concordia (and this concern was conveyed to the administration exactly as it is written here). Moreover, the author of one of the two reports on the 1992 tragedy - the Arthurs report - Harry Arthurs, lawyer and former president of York University, told an assembly of professors at a conference of the Canadian Association of University Teachers in Ottawa on November 2, 2007 what he found about Fabrikant's allegations: "Many of his allegations were in substance correct."

After a special panel to examine the situation in the philosophy department (where three other colleagues also had problems) ignored both an eyewitness' testimony of the mobbing against me (see summary below) and all the facts I presented (including two copies of the Minutes of the same departmental meeting), I again urged Concordia's administration to deal decisively with the practices of academic mobbing because of all obvious reasons particularly the potential of such practices to lead to tragedies when psychologically sensitive people are targeted as the 1992 and 1994 tragedies, apparently caused by this evil phenomenon, show.

Instead of doing what Concordia's administration was supposed to do (without my urging them) - to confront the facts of academic mobbing - they even refused to meet with the eyewitness and punished the victim by suspending me (but inexplicably did nothing to four philosophy professors who wrote slanderous letters against me, whose untrue content was proved at the arbitration, and one of them referred to me as "pathology" in her letter; as there is no ban the letters can be posted online). Concordia's most serious reason for the suspension was: posing "serious threats to persons at the University" only because Fabrikant's name appeared in several of my letters to them. It is not only I who think that Concordia's allegation is an obvious demonization technique because they called "threats" my very concerns that Concordia's administration ignored the evidence for the existence of academic mobbing at the university and that they were not acting to eliminate this dangerous phenomenon (Concordia's inaction raised the disturbing question of whether Concordia's administration might have acted similarly in 1992, which might have prevented them from avoiding the tragedy). Moreover, the names of Justine and Yves Sergent also appeared together with Fabrikant's name in a very clear and explicitly unthreatening context (as indicated above); for an independent and professional opinion on my mentioning Fabrikant's name see below the letter of September 29, 2010 by Professor Kenneth Westhues, a renowned researcher of academic mobbing (and author of the book The Envy of Excellence: Administrative Mobbing of High-Achieving Professors), which he sent to the Montreal Gazette's Managing Editor and Concordia's President Woodsworth.

NOTE: Even now I do not know what caused the academic mobbing in my case. Before the actions against me became open, I had friendly relations with the colleagues behind those actions - letters and emails from these colleagues, congratulating me for the successfully organized biennial International Conferences on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime (e.g., "Thanks for the excellent conference"), for the conference grant applications (all were successful and were granted the maximum amounts by SSHRC), for the gaining popularity Montreal Inter-University Seminar on the History and Philosophy of Science and for my research (e.g., "Congratulations on this significant coverage of your work"), were presented at the arbitration (the slanderous letters were written later, behind my back, and Concordia's administration refused to tell me even the names of their authors, which made it impossible for me to file a harassment complaint). After I was susspended, colleagues and friends have been telling me that the reason for the academic mobbing is simple - pure envy: the conferences and my other results had been apparently viewed as too successful by the people behind the actions against me. The fact is that I noticed those actions after the 2004 conference and they escalated as the 2006 and 2008 conferences were increasingly successful (and they sabotaged the 2010 and the following conferences; sabotaged was also the Montreal Inter-University Seminar on the History and Philosophy of Science, which I started in January 2002).

From: http://spacetimecentre.org/vpetkov/petition.html

April 26, 2015

Bullying and Sexual Predators @ Academy Union

Last time we exposed long-standing bullying at Academy Union (AU). This time we focus on a specific case of what can happen when an innocent elected Union member falls foul of certain Academy Union staff “enforcers” of the union management. So that our readers can understood how this injustice to a union member occurred, we have to emphasize that the real controllers of the Academy Union are the top management team who make all day-to-day decisions. Union Managers have a privileged salary, numerous job perks and subsidised life-style such as freedom to work from home. Academy Union staff enjoy working conditions which are much better than any equivalent university or college grade in the sector they represent.

Indeed the salaries and conditions of even lower-grade Academy Union officials are only matched by the professoriate salaries of union members in some of the older universities. In an academic sector which is increasingly casualized and a majority of academic staff in the UK are not in permanent jobs, Academy Union employees have some of the best working conditions of employees anywhere in the country. That may explain why only one of the top managers accepted the union’s generous voluntary severance scheme, and he (having allegedly received over £300k) renegotiated a new job leading the Academy Union Dictatorship Section.

When Academy Union faced financial crisis due to hitches in selling  two valuable property assets while buying and refitting a third, members took the hit in poor service. The union then spent over a £1 million to reduce its staff compliment by just ten people! Some of the pay-offs were spectacular- do the maths! Some of those “paid off” even immediately came back!

images5Z4QQQ75The highest beneficiares in the Academy Union’s generous staff trough are its top managers. Pay and perks @ Academy Union are so good for its staff that only the top 3% of its union members earn as much as the management team of their union. In short, only a tiny fraction of professors at elite universities earn as much as the General Secretary and union managers who are lavishly paid to represent them. That is even before we count the Academy Union’s Presidential Apartments, travel perks and even a bicycle purchase subsidy, pension scheme and union employee benefits. It certainly makes up for having to drink all that acidic “FairTrade” coffee which the union provides free for its staff.
The case we want to expose at Academy Union in this posting concerns an innocent union volunteer and an alleged sex predator among its officials. It also reveals the union’s failure to take action despite years of complaints about this union official, the inaction of his line manager, a cover-up disguised as a perfunctionary union investigation and the collusion of a union senior manager. The union volunteer was allegedly sexually assaulted by the Academy Union official at a union function witnessed by a dozen other union members including members of the union’s National Executive Committee.

The volunteer was allegedly assaulted a second time, again during union work, the union official’s drunken behaviour having attracted the concern of premises security. Following the volunteer’s complaint his manager said she would talk to him and another senior union manager became involved as the official warned the volunteer that he would use this senior manager to silence him. Having served as a volunteer for close to a decade this elected member suddenly got a complaint from the senior manager about his expenses claims concerning such matters as his contact, his precise home address and his claim for carer’s allowance while he was on union business.

imagesGJN9853BThe senior manager claimed he did not have proof of the member’s address. The member produced his Council tax registration and a file of utility address confirmations for his home covering several decades. The manager claimed he wanted to know more about the caring relationship- something which is not even covered in union regulations. Nevertheless the volunteer happily provided full NHS certification for the caring arrangement. The manager said he did not believe the authorising doctor was curently practising and disproved the doctor’s reports as not being written with clincial rigor. The manager had actually mistaken the medical consultant for a different practice with a similar name. The British Medical Association then criticized the Academy Union for potentially slanderous allegations against one of its GPs. The manager claimed he previously knew nothing about the volunteer so could not be held to have acted disproportionately against him.

The manager had in fact been named (for the first time at least a full three years previously) in the volunteer’s original sexual assault complaint as the Academy Union official had threatened him if he went ahead with the complaint he would use the senior manager to “bury him”. In addition, the senior manager had been involved in the complaint-review in which another manager had said she would “speak to” the official about his “inappropriate behaviour at a union function”. Moreover the same senior manager had negatively evaluated a case submitted by the volunteer for assistance from the union, some years earlier.

The extent of the union’s investigation of the sexual assault investigation was a two minute phone call to the volunteer made by another union senior manager asking how he would propose to evidence it. The outcome was that the union investigator, a colleague of the complaining senior manager, decided there was no provable case. The volunteer who was on a casual contract found his college’s human resources staff and his branch union officers were encouraged by the complaining senior manager to regard the volunteer as un-employed and stripped him from union membership.

To seal things the complaining senior manager set up a sting which undercut the volunteer when he relied on his branch to continue as a Committee representative. The volunteer had a long-standing branch approval to do committee work but within two minutes of his lodging his application for Committee nomination, the senior manager had undermined his support.

In short, this was a case of an Academy Union senior manager arguing with the human resources director of a college that a member could not have branch membership on the basis of his temporary but renewable contract offer. All this despite the union official policy to defend casual staff. The complaining manager at Academy Union then upped the anty against the volunteer by arguing he was foul of union rules requiring a contract to sit on union committees and thereby also calling into question the eligibility criterion for some of the volunteer’s past expenses. The volunteer made it clear he was blameless, had incurred all expenses in good faith and asked for an independent investigation. Academy Union refused, they ignored fresh evidence on the alleged sexual assault and concluded the volunteer had breached union rules with a view to expelling him.

untitled (179)The entirety of this process was overseen by the senior manager who was named in the volunteer’s complaint, but the union claimed that he could still morally do that while remaining at arms length of his own investigation. The shrewd result of this sanction is that it immediately deprived the member of branch affiliation and scuttled his request for an investigation of the sexual and collusion allegation. The volunteer was still owed more expenses by the union (if they accepted his eligibility) than he had ever claimed. The Union had suspended payment to him of meal, transport, carer’s and other expenses running into many thousands of pounds- a large sum compared with the expenses disputed by the Union.

imagesXBQREXZWThe volunteer would like to use this forum to appeal for Academy Union to appoint a genuinely independent investigator into both the alleged sexual assault and membership issues. Such an investigation may compel Academy Union to produce previous complaints of sexual assault against Academy Union officials and allegations of alleged collusion between that official and the same named senior manager in regard to past compaints by the union’s volunteers. Such a process would also have to consider if Academy Union had permitted a culture of bullying at its London headquarters and that the Academy Union senior manager had also been subject to previous complaints of “union bullying”. The Academy Union has been criticized for allowing poor management practices e.g. an incestuous line management system complicated by marital and extra-marital relationships among its top employees, and a high level of complaints of staff bullying against the senior manager the volunteer has complained of.

The Academy Union employee named in the complaint as an alleged sexual predator has a lengthy history of volunteer complaints. It is disturbing that the Academy Union which prides itself on equality services to members has such lack over-sight of alleged sexual bullying or that his line supervisor would regard it appropriate only to “have a word” with the staff member about his behaviour. This Academy Union senior staffer, again the subject of collusion allegations, has been referred to in previous disciplinary reports as the union’s “enforcer”, and as someone whose forcefulness had allowed his judgement to go unquestioned. We cannot necessarily look to our professional representation as a defense against bullying, and that Academy Union is not the membership-led organisation set out in its principles.

Many members now feel that Academy Union Congress, overtly its supreme body, is controlled by senior managers. However union membership is so weak and the Union Executive so “hands off” that genuine union democracy has long been sacrificed by its well paid Union employees. This web-site has exposed allegations of bullying across the college system, and where it exists, we are equally determined to stamp out bulling at Academy Union so that members can get the genuinely democratic representation their subscriptions deserve.

images1U4Z7VU4ADVISORY….This is a work of humorous parody and any similarities with persons or places real or imagined is purely a matter of coincidence. If you’ve been bullied at your union or in any F/HE institution don’t hesitate in complete confidence to E-MAIL: bullied.academics@yahoo.co.uk Victims may complain without penalty under their college procedures or consider making a complaint to their local police. Where the police are contacted bullying usually ceases immediately.