Tate Told To Sort Bullying

Trustees order management to get workplace under control

Something is not quite right within the seemingly idyllic Tate Organization, as gallery attendants accuse senior and middle managers of bullying. Cutbacks and replacement staff are to blame for internal friction within the large art organisation. A few months ago the case was so bad that the institution’s administration decided to intervene. The Board of Trustees, appointed by the Prime Minister, include media mogul, Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert, Lord Browne, the controversial  former BP chief and Journalist, Lionel Barber all have voiced their disgust by saying they were “appalled by recent revelations” and that no employees should face the sort of working environment that seems to exist at Tate. It is everyones right to be able to work in a safe environment, without being bullied or discriminated against. To stop the situation escalating, the administration has had to implement a directive, consisting of independent monitoring, leadership training and “respect” workshops. One former employee described their work experience as like, “going through hell”. There was a “horrendous” atmosphere created by “callous and cold” management styles, age discrimination and unfair demands. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has now called for action from the gallery management. Union representative Alan Leighton has said “Government cutbacks in national museums, galleries and government departments have led to restructuring and staff reductions. Consequently, staff at all levels are being asked to carry heavier loads. This causes extra pressure which can lead to bullying and perceived bullying.” A current staff member said yesterday that workers were “petrified”, and that disciplinary procedures for allegedly minor offences were being used to cut numbers. A survey by ORC International, brought in by the institution, has also shown that only 26 percent of 586 Tate staff taking part, believe their pay was “reasonable” compared with people in similar jobs in other institutions.
Some have blamed Government cutbacks in national museums, galleries and government departments which have led to restructuring and staff reductions as a cause. Consequently, staff at all levels are being asked to carry heavier loads. This generates extra pressure which can lead to bullying and  perceived bullying.” Apparently, most recent staff surveys have revealed improvements in terms of the employees’ working conditions since the new measures. In January, the Tate brought in a research company, ORC International, to produce an “interpretative report” based on its survey of Tate employees. ORC International concluded that “the level of discrimination is in line with 2006”. One staff member highlighted a “climate of disrespect” within the Tate. The institution scored well on “pride” and “sense of belonging”. The trustees insisted that there should be a “zero tolerance policy” towards bullying within the organisation, with whistle-blowing policies, independent monitors and leadership training proposed as solutions. Photo © ArtLyst 2010

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