SPECIAL negotiators were called in to deal with alleged bullying in a Huddersfield workplace.
Kirklees Council asked theAdvisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) for help after claims that binmen were being intimidated.
Up to three managers have allegedly been involved in favouritism and bullying at the council’s refuse collection department on Vine Street.
Kirklees Unison assistant branch secretary Mick Ryan said: “The situation was that our members couldn’t approach certain people without being shouted at.
“Certain people weren’t allowed any overtime and weren’t able to book holiday time.”
Mr Ryan blamed the problems on nepotism.
“There’s a perception down there that if you’re in someone’s family, you’ll get a job,” he said.
“I think some people have got into jobs that they don’t have the skills for. It’s alright getting a leg-up but, if you haven’t got the skills, you’ll be found out.”
However, Mr Ryan admitted yesterday that Unison’s members at Vine Street were not blameless in the dispute.
“Management has accepted that the general culture down there needs to change,” he said.
“But we have to accept that sometimes some of our members don’t react in the right way when they are approached by management.
They should keep calm but they don’t sometimes.”
Kirklees asked Acas to step in to deal with the problems 10 weeks ago.
Mr Ryan said: “The stewards from all the unions have met Barry Walsh of Acas, as have the managers who have been alleged to have caused the bother.
“He’s also met 58 members of Unison, Unite and the GMB.”
Pete Murphy, convener of Kirklees Unite, praised the council for calling in Acas.
He said yesterday: “I’m happy that Kirklees has grasped the nettle on this. This has been a problem for many years.
“The bad treatment has become custom and practice, people have come to expect it as if it’s part of the job. It isn’t – everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with respect.”
Kirklees Cabinet member Clr David Sheard said yesterday: “This is a positive move involving all staff and the unions in a joint initiative – we have asked Acas to facilitate in this process because they can provide an independent and objective focus.
“They are very experienced in assisting organisations proactively to manage workplace issues and find ways of working together effectively.
“It is important to clarify that Acas do not only get involved in arbitrating disputes in workplaces.
“Managers at all levels and all the trades unions are committed to work together with Acas to proactively identify and resolve any issues before they become a problem and find ways to move forward with a strong culture of mutual trust and respect.
“Part of this will be to identify and set out what is expected from all staff and managers in the workforce as well as providing relevant support, doing this in a spirit of openness.”