Union seeks staff cuts 'to reduce stress'

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The Independent Online
A union which may resort to compulsory redundancies to shed 103 of its own employees yesterday sought the TUC's backing to eradicate job "insecurity" from Britain's workplaces.

The MSF, the union for skilled and professional people, won unanimous backing to fight what its general secretary, Roger Lyons, called "the three new industrial diseases of our age", namely "insecurity, stress and bullying". Mr Lyons told congress: "More and more people wonder how their children will cope in a world of work that seems uncertain, unfriendly and insecure."

It had been feared among senior MSF officials that some union employees would stage a walk-out over plans to shed a quarter of its staff. However, no demonstration took place.

The MSF, representing 452,000 white collar workers, currently has a pounds 720,000 annual deficit. The union's bank had threatened to intervene unless it put its finances in order.

So far 26 employees have opted for voluntary redundancy, not enough to prevent the possible implementation of compulsory job cuts. While Bob Braddock, vice-chairman of the MSF's finance committee, had defended the union's actions as necessary to secure its future, his own general secretary said that without the strength of the unions "insecurity, stress and bullying would be worse". He added: "This insecurity about the future is so deep that it will lead the Government to fail."

The MSF is also currently preparing what it calls "ground-breaking legal action" to stop an alleged bullying manager at the Co-operative Insurance Service. The alleged mistreatment of staff at the CIS by the manager is said to have caused one employee to leave the company on long-term sick leave. The manager and CIS have also been reported to the Health and Safety Executive on the grounds that they have failed to provide a safe working environment for staff.

On stress, the TUC backed the call to condemn the "alarming increase" of "life-damaging and work-related stress disorders" in the workplace. Congress also voted to campaign for a reduction in working hours with greater time flexibility for employees.