Edinburgh Council: Harrowing account of treatment of staff member nearly moved me to tears – John McLellan

Following the recent columns on the Edinburgh Council standards inquiry, another staff member got in touch.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 4:55 am
Edinburgh Council's standards inquiry must make a real difference to its staff (Picture: David Cheskin/PA)

It was brief and anonymous, but every bit as concerning as the other messages we have been receiving.

“As a current employee, unfortunately your article resonates all too well,” it said. “Even unions advise against taking management on and ultimately employees can't afford to argue in court.”

And one of the subjects of last week’s article was back in touch. “I will be pleased if what I wrote in my victim statement has a positive effect coming out of all the previous negativity. I finally feel listened to, and that makes such a difference.”

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This is the nub of the whole affair; staff want to speak up but don’t have the confidence that they can do so without recriminations.

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I heard more harrowing details last week which can’t be revealed here for fear of identifying the individual and therefore the others involved. It doesn’t happen very often, but the account of feeling utterly isolated, ignored and hopeless nearly moved me to tears.

But there is now evidence that counter-claims and an insistence on the withdrawal of harassment allegations before progress can be made is part of the regular management tool-kit, and this is something which the inquiry must examine fully.

And only by people coming forward in ways that can’t be ignored can this inquiry really make the difference the council’s staff expect. “I hope some good comes out of the inquiry,” said the new contact. He speaks for all his colleagues.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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