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Gibraltar faces ‘bullying and low morale epidemic’, GSD claims

Gibraltar’s is facing “an epidemic” of bullying and low morale in key areas of the public sector, the GSD claimed yesterday.

In an anonymous survey carried out by the party among public health sector workers, a “staggering” 62% of the 203 respondents said they felt bullied, intimidated or harassed at work, and 66% expressed low morale.

The GSD said the figure, “although worrying is not surprising”, after the government revealed a total of 24 cases of bullying reported since 2012 in answer to parliamentary questions.

A third of these were said to have occurred within the GHA.

Coupled to the findings of recent surveys on morale in the Royal Gibraltar Police and HM Customs (Gibraltar), the GSD said there was cause for concern.

“Bullying and low morale has been rumoured to be rife in Gibraltar,” said GSD MP Lawrence Llamas, responsible for health and care.

“The survey has proved a worthwhile exercise as those rumours can at least now be substantiated some sort of evidence as to what is in fact happening within workplaces and no doubt our schools too.”

“We must work to eradicate bullying which is having a detrimental effect on the mental wellbeing of employees across the sectors.”

Mr Llamas added: “We will be presenting policies which will clearly separate the roles and responsibilities of public servants and ministers.”

“We must open formal and secure channels of communication, by doing so we will ensure public servants and ministers are equally accountable within their respective responsibilities.”

“It is crucial we provide positively charged workplace, this in turn will reflect itself in a happier workforce, thus satisfied service users too.”

In a separate statement, GSD MP Daniel Feetham raised his own concerns about low morale and bullying claims within customs.

He was speaking after the GGCA published findings of a survey which revealed two thirds of Gibraltar’s customs officers reported low morale and more than half said they had witnessed bullying or harassment in the department.

Customs officers also doubted the bullying complaints will be investigated effectively and transparently and many said they felt unsafe in their work, and suffered stress and anxiety as a result.

Mr Feetham said: “These are serious and worrying findings the government cannot ignore.”

He said there has to be confidence in the “integrity of the complaints procedures”, and said solutions need to be put in place to restore that confidence.

Mr Feetham said the GSD would urge the government to sit down with the GGCA and management to “determine the root causes of the problem and how they can be best dealt with”.

He said it is noteworthy to find that the results of this survey mirror the findings of the Police Federation survey where 80% of the RGP officers who responded to the survey said morale was poor.

In addition, 54% of the respondents said they considered leaving the police force and 45% said they were victims of bullying at work.

“The RGP and Customs are the main stay of law enforcement in Gibraltar and absolutely essential to this community,” Mr Feetham said.

“We cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend there is nothing wrong.”

“That will just perpetuate and aggravate any problems.”

“We need to carefully analyse why these results are being produced and deal with the causes.”

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