SUNDRE — The municipality will be joining many others throughout both Canada and the U.S. in taking a stand against and raising awareness about workplace bullying.
Linda Nelson, chief administrative officer, told council during the last regular meeting that was conducted by teleconference before the municipal election, that correspondence had recently been received requesting the town proclaim the week of Oct. 17-23 as Workplace Bullying Awareness Week.
Providing some additional background, Nelson said the initiative stems back several decades, when in 1997, Dr. Gary Namie of the U.S.-based Workplace Bullying Institute launched the campaign.
About 10 years ago, Linda Crockett, founder of the Canadian Institute of Workplace Bullying Resources, in tandem with Namie, introduced the program in Canada.
“The Town of Sundre does promote a violence- and harassment-free workplace in which all people respect one another and work together to achieve common goals,” said Nelson.
“Although it can include physical abuse or the threat of abuse, workplace bullying usually causes psychological rather than physical harm,” she said, adding instances of bullying can involve sexual harassment as well as discrimination.
“Because workplace bullying is often psychological, it can be hard to recognize. The harmful forms of bullying are usually subtle rather than direct, and verbal rather than physical.”
Other nations that have since joined the initiative include Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Greece and Malaysia, she said.
Speaking in favour of the motion, Town of Sundre Mayor Terry Leslie expressed gratitude to administration for taking action “with support of council, when accusations of bullying and sexual harassment were made at the fire hall in 2020.”
The municipality, said the outgoing mayor, will not abide bullying or harassment in the workplace.
“There are those that take exception to the actions taken at the fire hall by council and administration,” he said. “I am confident that the good people of this community can see through the hidden agendas of those claiming to want to change Sundre.”
Victims of workplace bullying and harassment, he continued, are forever changed after being subject to abuse.
“Occupational Health and Safety investigations make clear when actions need to be taken. You took that action, and all our staff are better for the understanding that there is a line you do not cross,” said Leslie.
“Dignity and respect in the workplace is the standard, no matter what disgruntled former employees and their supporters might say on social media,” he said.
Council went on to unanimously carry a motion to proclaim Oct. 17-23 Workplace Bullying Awareness Week.