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January 17, 2014updated 20 Jan 2014 2:46pm

NUJ: BBC is not doing enough to tackle harassment and bullying in the workplace

By Emma McGarthy

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called for a new approach towards bullying and harassment at the BBC.

Addressed to director general of the BBC Tony Hall a motion backed by union members at the BBC follows an investigation into harassment and bullying.

Dinah Rose QC was brought in to lead the investigation and make recommendations, which she published in a report in May.

The BBC said the review was "set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to look at current BBC policies and processes relating to sexual harassment as well as what it is like to work at the BBC more broadly with regard to respect and appropriate behaviour for staff and freelancers".

The NUJ motion was carried unanimously by the meeting of the BBC's chapel  which noted that the recommendations made by Rose had not been followed and some cases which started early last year had not been concluded.

The review had recommended that cases of harassment or sexual assault take no more than 30 days to investigate and the meeting noted that perpetrators were allowed to remain in post while the investigation was underway. 

It also noted that the BBC takes too long to make decisions concerning complaints regarding senior figures.

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The motion said: “This meeting expresses its disappointment and anger that the principles of the BBC's Respect at Work policy, as recommended by Dinah Rose QC, are not being adhered to. It further notes that Respect at Work has already been diluted to Support at Work.”

"This meeting calls on the BBC to deal with all cases within the recommended time frame of 30 days and reiterates its demand that bullying and harassment cases are handled by independent experts external to the BBC. The NUJ will continue to do all it can to protect members who have been bullied and harassed and to ensure their cases are satisfactorily resolved."

The meeting also observed the BBC has delayed implementation of the NUJ’s policy that complaints and grievances be handled by an outside organisation.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "The Rose review was an opportunity to look at this problem and to adopt a transparent procedure which staff can have faith in.  It is not enough for the BBC to say it will bring in managers from other departments and division to investigate allegations, an outside body is needed. Indeed, despite assurances from the BBC that a more independent approach would be taken, there has been at least one case where disciplinary proceedings were heard by a manager from within the same service – totally contrary to the pledges given by the BBC last year – and where the victims of proven sexism and bullying have been cast adrift within the BBC while the perpetrator keeps his job.

“We have major cases that have been going on for the best part of last year and are still not concluded. Whether the corporation is failing to cope with the reality of dealing with complex cases involving multiple victims of bullying, or whether it can’t bring itself to make difficult decisions about those senior managers implicated, the upshot is the same – individuals who have been treated appallingly are failing to get redress and not being properly supported by the BBC in the process. This needs direct intervention from the top by the director general, and further work needs to be done to tackle the institutionalised problem that exists at the BBC despite the Rose Review and its recommendations.”

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