Vulnerable individuals have had no access to services for six weeks.
A leading trade union has demanded urgent action over the temporary closure of Glasgow East Women’s Aid (GEWA) due to the suspension of “whistleblowing” staff amid allegations of bullying.
The trade union represents more than a dozen workers at the Easterhouse-based service where thirteen Unite members have been suspended for whistleblowing due to raising concerns about bullying in the workplace.
An industrial action ballot opened on October 30 and closes on 13 November over the suspensions, and a motion of no confidence placed in the board and management.
The main office in Easterhouse has been closed for six weeks following the mass suspension of staff.
Vulnerable service users are currently being directed to an emergency phone number as women and children who were receiving 1-2-1 support have been left with no support and no explanation.
Sharon Graham Unite general secretary, said: “The situation facing Unite’s members at Glasgow East Women’s Aid is shocking and deeply worrying. Whistleblowing staff have been victimised for raising concerns about bullying in the workplace. They are currently suspended which exactly proves the point that our members have been making.
“Unite will stand up for our members’ jobs, terms, and conditions but also the vulnerable women and children who need access to this lifeline service in greater Easterhouse.”
Unite is demanding that Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government urgently intervene as funders of Glasgow East Women’s Aid on behalf of the service users, and whistleblowing staff currently suspended.
The thirteen Unite members currently suspended are all highly trained women and children’s support workers who provide critical and lifesaving services for women and children fleeing and experiencing domestic abuse in greater Easterhouse - one of Scotland’s most economically deprived communities.
Some of the services the staff provide includes practical and emotional support; information and assistance on personal protection and safety; securing safe temporary accommodation for service users; information on legal issues and financial issues, and assistance with housing and homelessness.
Unite industrial officer, Linda Wilson, added: “Glasgow East Women’s Aid in effect has been closed for six weeks. One of Scotland’s most deprived communities and its most vulnerable residents are being denied access to a lifesaving service due to the suspension of our whistleblowing members.”
“The staff have legitimate concerns over the environment in which they work. Instead of these concerns being addressed through proper due process the management of Glasgow East Women’s Aid decided to suspend our members.”
“We are calling on the organisation’s funders including Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to urgently intervene in this appalling example of workplace bullying and intimidation.”
A spokesperson for the board of GEWA told the Glasgow Times the office was open normal hours and available to service users.
They added: “No employees have been suspended; some areas of services have been altered to allow external investigations to take place.
“This was done to protect staff as well as the service users.
“GEWA facilitates external supervision counselling for all employees who need it and this is still in place whilst staff are at home.
“The suspension of services allows those who have made any allegations to be protected by staying home on full pay, and not having to experience anxiety about having to work alongside those they have made allegations against.”
They added: “The Board are confused and concerned that this matter has been taken to the press considering the attempts that have been made by employees already to cause organisational damage which directly impacts vulnerable women and children.
“We are looking forward to conclusion of these matters and remain concerned at the continual attacks on the business and attempts to cause organisational damage.”