The Ofsted commissioner’s report into West Sussex Children’s Services has confirmed what UNISON has been telling the council’s political and executive leadership for 18 months: that there is a toxic bullying and blame culture at West Sussex at its most senior levels.
This toxic bullying culture is particularly prevalent in both Adults’ and Children’s Social Services. UNISON has supported a number of its members working at a senior level in both Adults’ and Children’s with grievances about bullying. This is a level unheard of.
UNISON is also aware of a number of Directors and Executive Directors who have left the council after relatively short periods due to bullying. We see the long-term consequences of the toleration of these behaviours in the Commissioner’s report. It is a tragedy for those individuals who were bullied and were deeply impacted personally.
UNISON believes there was a culture of hostility towards unions and an unwillingness to engage with us on anything other than core terms & conditions and restructures. That inability to listen to trade unions and our feedback from the shopfloor, and work with us as partners, has undoubtedly contributed to the present situation and failures. We really hope for improved industrial relations with the new political and executive leaderships when appointed.
UNISON has made representations on such matters privately and publicly over the past 18 months.