Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mr. Balls and Lord Sugar

Other countries have laws prohibiting workplace harassment, but strangely, it's totally legal here in America. The law only protects you against sexual harassment and against certain types of discrimination (age, disability, race). This really cool organization, the Workplace Bullying Institute, is trying to change that:

"The Workplace Bullying Institute's original web presence started in the early 1990's. Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie had established unique, pro-employee advice at the Work Doctor website. At the time, the married couple had 30-years combined professional experiences culled from counseling, educating, training and coaching people in the workplace.

"In 1995-96, Dr. Ruth experienced bullying firsthand. It was at the hands of a female tyrant backed by all the institutional power of a large HMO. The Namies did not go looking for the phenomenon. As every target can testify, bullying came uninvited.

"The Namies authored their first book, BullyProof Yourself At Work! in 1998. Year 2000 was a landmark year. The Namies' second book, The Bully At Work, is published by Sourcebooks, with a second edition released in June 2009.

"In 2002, the Campaign became the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) to better reflect the research contribution made to the international fight against workplace bullying. WBI remains sole North American nonprofit organization dedicated to the eradication of Workplace Bullying through education and research."

Meanwhile, in news that is making headlines today in England, the Prime Minister's office is in hot water due to claims that a number of Downing Street employees called a National Bullying Helpline to report abuse. In other words, the Prime Minister is a big a-hole, apparently. Also, he's being defended by someone named "Balls"--which , I imagine, is even funnier if you're English--and also by some reality TV star named "Lord Sugar":

Gordon Brown has been "very upset" by allegations about his behaviour towards staff, his ally Ed Balls told the BBC. The schools secretary said it had affected the PM personally because there was "no truth" in the claims.

It follows claims that cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell had a stern "pep talk" with the PM after his temper frightened Downing Street staff. The row began with the publication of journalist Andrew Rawnsley's book, which detailed incidents where it is alleged Mr Brown grabbed staff by the lapels, shoved them aside and shouted at them.

Then on Sunday the head of the National Bullying Helpline, Christine Pratt, said the charity had received calls from the prime minister's office - although she said they were not about Mr Brown personally.

The Tories and Lib Dems have called for the situation to be cleared up. But on Monday, Sir Gus said there was no need for an inquiry and a Downing Street spokesman said: "The cabinet secretary would like to make clear that he has never raised concerns with the prime minister about him acting in a bullying or intimidatory manner in relation to Number 10 staff, let alone giving him any sort of verbal warning."

Mr Balls told BBC Radio 4's Today programme Mr Rawnsley's book had been incorrect on every allegation and said he had known Mr Brown for years and "at no point has it ever occurred to me that Gordon Brown is, or would ever be, a bully".

"It is something which personally he feels very upset about because he knows there is no truth to these allegations," said Mr Balls. "I don't think it damages him, it hurts him personally."

He said Mr Brown had "a strength of character and drive" adding: "That's what you want in a prime minister, you want people who are tough and can drive things forward."

His comments were echoed by Lord Sugar, star of The Apprentice and the government's enterprise champion, who told GMTV: "Do you want some docile type of person who is just not going to have any spirit about them or do you want someone who has got a bit of fire in their belly, who will react, who will get a bit emotional sometimes? That is not bullying as far as I am concerned."

And Mrs Brown told GMTV "what you see is what you get" with her husband adding: "Gordon's the man that I know and the man that I love.

Mr Rawnsley is sticking by his book, saying his source for the claim that Sir Gus had been moved to speak to the prime minister about his behaviour towards Downing Street staff was "24 carat".

He said the statement issued on Monday by Sir Gus had been a "careful choice of words" which "still doesn't preclude the cabinet secretary going to the prime minister and warning him about his behaviour".


  1. Gee, you mean it's NOT okay to yell at lower ranking employees?

    It takes me longer to work with bullies: I have to filter out the volume and the nasty attitude. Sigh.