Edmonds faces strike over staff harassment

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The Independent Online
JOHN EDMONDS, the union leader who has fought a long campaign against bullying bosses, is threatened with a strike at his headquarters over alleged harassment of staff.

The bizarre dispute at the GMB general union - one of two separate potential conflicts - began when one member of staff was allegedly intimidated by a senior union official.

Union employees demanded that the accused bully, Mick Fisher, acting head of communications, be suspended. Instead Mr Edmonds, the general secretary, ordered an inquiry by the union's legal officer.

Warren Glover, one of the GMB staff who witnessed the clash between Mr Fisher and Steve Pryle of the communications department, registered his dissatisfaction with the result of the inquiry, which was to suspend Mr Fisher for three days. Mr Glover also took issue with evidence his line manager gave the investigation.

Mr Glover's immediate boss demanded a written apology, but he refused and he was dismissed. A further irony is that Mr Glover was taken on by the union two months ago partly because of his expertise on bullying in the workplace. Mr Glover has drawn up policy statements on the issue for the Consumers' Association and the Royal College of Nursing.

Some 50 or so headquarters staff will be receiving strike ballot papers over the next few days and the result is due to be announced later this week.

Mr Edmonds has other staff problems on his hands. The GMB leader recently sacked Tom Condon, his spin-doctor, for alleged "unsatisfactory performance" during his probationary period.

Mr Condon's staff disagreed with his assessment of their boss and have voted in a separate ballot to walk out over the dismissal. The spin-doctor believes he was fired for criticising the union over a property deal that lost it pounds 6m.

An employee claimed that management at the union had behaved as badly as any bully in the private sector. Severalheadquarters staff have been offered voluntary redundancy and many seem keen to leave.

A spokesperson for the union said Mr Glover would be reinstated if he signed a statement agreed by management and his union representative. He also had a right of appeal.