Fire Brigades Union calls for campaign against workplace non-disclosure agreements… Oh, wait a minute! / 1001Love

CONCERT HALL, Perth, Scotland. October 2019. The Scottish TUC is holding its 92nd annual women’s conference. There is an important resolution on the order paper. The resolution highlights an issue that is giving real cause for concern throughout the trade union movement – namely the increasing use by employers of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as a means to silencing employees who have complained of mistreatment.

The resolution in question condemns employers who use NDAs to “hide toxic cultures”. It further calls on the Scottish TUC to launch a campaign to “highlight the misuse of confidentiality agreements” in the workplace.

Unsurprisingly, the resolution (the full text of which is reproduced below) is carried by the conference.

So which union moved the resolution? Well, lo and behold, it was … the Fire Brigades Union. The very same union whose leadership has been throwing around NDAs like confetti and found itself, as a result, exposed in the pages of Private Eye magazine.   

If Carlsberg did irony…

Resolution no. 21: Non-Disclosure Agreements

That this conference notes with concern the misuse of confidentiality agreements (NDAs) to silence workers and effectively brush organisations failings in duty of care under the carpet.

Time and time again victims, predominantly women, of workplace bullying, harassment and sexual assault find themselves unsupported by their organisation and left with no option but to resign from their positions.

With employers wielding the power and ability to drag the proceedings out, the typical outcome is the victims of this behaviour become worn down and desperate to move on with their lives. As a result, they are required to accept a pay-out coupled with a confidentiality agreement – a gagging clause.

This is neither ethical nor progressive for the betterment of organisations. Where employers have failed to protect their employees there should be transparency to ensure that this failing is not repeated and, importantly, recognised if it is. Without this open scrutiny, organisations are enabled to hide toxic cultures still prevalent in the workplace and avoid pressure to wipe it out.

Conference, therefore, calls upon the STUC to commence a campaign with affiliates to highlight the misuse of confidentiality agreements and call for a change in the law to make employers legally responsible for tackling sexual harassment at work.

Mover: Fire Brigades Union

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