Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bullying at work

Occasionally for those of us who work for a living we run across something we don't like doing and we mouth off about it, sometimes people take this to extremes and end up in the disciplinary process and if they keep it up can be sacked.
Sadly such cannot be said of our prima-donna MP's.

An MP repeatedly shouted that the new expenses system was an “abortion” during a meeting with officials, according to records that disclose in full the abusive and sometimes violent reaction of politicians to the stricter regime.
Another MP hit the computer of an official at the new Parliamentary allowances watchdog and threw paper at him, while a female member warned she was “going to murder someone” during a training session.
One male MP reduced a volunteer with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to tears as he was being told how to submit his expenses claims, and another turned up at its offices just to declare that he would “attack” the organisation at every step and to claim that its senior staff were “idiots”.
The details of “bullying” and “intimidating” behaviour towards IPSA workers and volunteers, published by the watchdog in response to Freedom of Information requests, are likely to heighten fears that many MPs have still not accepted the changes made to their expenses system since its widespread abuse was disclosed by The Daily Telegraph more than a year ago.
In order to restore trust and transparency, it was agreed that payments for second home and office expenses should be handled by a new, independent body rather than the House of Commons fees office, and that claims would have to be made by a computerised system rather than on pieces of paper. In addition, MPs are no longer allowed to claim as much as they previously could on rent nor obtain home furnishings.
Some MPs have objected strongly to the new regime being imposed on them by IPSA as they believe it is too bureaucratic and time-consuming, as well as not leaving them with enough money to run their constituency offices or homes outside Westminster.
It has been disclosed that IPSA staff introduced an unofficial football-style system of red and yellow cards to discipline MPs who were rude to them, and put up signs stating that abuse would not be tolerated.
Now IPSA has published logs of 10 “incidents” recorded by staff since the general election, which disclose the full extent of the hostile treatment they have received. However the names of the MPs involved have been – like many of the expenses claims published by Parliament – redacted.
The first states that an MP travelling in a lift described his experience of the new expenses system as “awful” and declined an offer of help, explaining that all IPSA staff were “------- idiots”.
Late last month, according to the second incident, an MP met an IPSA official with three of his staff in attendance, creating an “intimidating” atmosphere as they greeted the scheme with “ridicule and derision”.
As the member was taken through the new expenses system, he repeatedly exclaimed: “This system is a ------- abortion!”
The IPSA worker said they found this “deeply inappropriate and inoffensive” but the MP’s staff “laughed and agreed” with the term.
The MP went on to claim that only “rich people and losers” would want to be politicians as a result of the new system, and that Prof Sir Ian Kennedy, the IPSA chairman, “has no idea what we do”.
On May 10th, just days after the general election, an MP turned up at IPSA’s office to announce he would not be taking part in an induction session and “threw his personal details form across the desk”.
When told he would have to do so, he became “angry and aggressive” and “struck the laptop on the facilitator’s desk and loomed over them in an intimidating manner”.
The following day, an IPSA volunteer “burst into tears” after spending 10 minutes trying to explain the system to an MP who was “very difficult and disruptive”.
The MP claimed the system “reduced him to a cipher” and made him “not want to represent his country as an MP”, although he later brought a box of chocolates to apologise.
At another training session the next day, a female MP was “rude, abrupt, disparaging”, refusing to sign a form as required and then stating: “I am going to murder someone today.”
Another MP appeared at the door of the IPSA office just to “aggressively” declare: “I am going to attack you at every step.”
A female MP turned up stating: “I want my Travelcard!” and when told it had not arrived, declared that IPSA staff had “obviously lied to her”.
Another woman politician refused to leave the watchdog’s office until she had received her Travelcard, rang the Commons Speaker to tell him what was happening and refused to let IPSA staff answer their telephones.
An IPSA spokesman said: “These instances relate to the early days of operation. IPSA is focusing on getting on with its job which is managing the new regime governing MPs’ expenses – that means checking and processing thousands of claims each week. Last week alone, for example, IPSA handled 4,000 claims and paid £650,000 to MPs.”
 They still don't realise that the public still see them as being a bunch of crooks, they still don't realise that it isn't their money either, it comes from you and I via taxation and we now want to see value for money.
Were I to have done any of the above actions at my place of work to any of the staff there I would have been severely reprimanded, possibly even sacked. But no, our little tin gods in Westminster believe they can treat the staff who work for us to monitor their thieving ways as lesser beings.
When our MP's show a little more courtesy and respect for their fellow men/women particularly those that deal with their expenses, just perhaps the contempt in which they are held might alleviate, though I suspect it could be a very, very long time if ever that they will again be held in the respect that their positions would warrant. More honesty, more integrity and more humility would help a lot, I'm not seeing much of any of that though and until I do, I'll keep on regarding them as thieving scum and call for the system to be even tighter.

6 annotations:

English Pensioner said...

Perhaps we should know who these MPs are; clearly they are not fit to hold public office.

When I was working, all my expenses were carefully vetted, even to the extent that once when I went abroad for work, I was asked whether I had purchased any duty free items. Foolishly admitting that I'd bought a bottle of single malt, I was told that I would have the equivalent of the duty deducted from my expenses as a "Civil Servant must not make any financial gain as a result of carrying out his official duties".
I'd love to apply that rule to MPs!

JuliaM said...

"...although he later bought a box of chocolates to apologise."

Probably charged those to the taxpayer too!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pensioner that we should know who these people are.

For example, were my MP to behave like that he would certainly never get my vote again. I look for a man of intelligence and good judgement to represent me. It’s important that if he is interceding for me with officials or perhaps the courts he be able to do this in a manner that will benefit me... not ruin my chances of appeal.

Secondly I agree with you QM. I have no time for these people. We’ve all had to deal with new systems put in, often by the government, and, because new systems are new systems, there are nearly always problems. We all have to put up with this. Be it passports, pensions, tax codes, car licences, whatever. It is often a nightmare dealing with departments that give us, or take from us, money.

Perhaps they feel that this should not happen to them... but why not? What is different about them? They are just ordinary people who eat, sleep and work for a living.

No one doubts for a second that the way before the Queen and her immediate family is going to be smoothed, but MPs are just ordinary blokes and blokesses. They are chosen by us to work for us at Westminster, Brussels, Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast. They get a 4 or 5 year contract, after which , in theory they may be back working at Tesco or Homebase. Why should like be different for them.

They proved that they were ordinary. No one checked up on them in the past, and so by and large they stole money like it was going out of fashion... The Queen wouldn’t have done that.

They’re not to be trusted, and I certainly agree that disciplinary measures should be taken against MPs who behave like this. As the real employers are you and me, and there is no “authority” that can fire them, or suspend them or dock their pay, I would suggest that their behaviour be made public, and where appropriate the Procurator Fiscal (or whatever you call him in England) be made aware of their behaviour with a view to pressing criminal charges.

Anonymous said...

....“deeply inappropriate and INoffensive”...


Quiet_Man said...

No accounting for the foibles of Telegraph sub editors I'm afraid.

Gordon Is a Moron said...

@tris, I too look for a person of good intelligence and judgement to represent me, however living in the Labour Heartlands I am wasting my time.