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Monday 10 February 2020

HeartUnions Week: ending harassment in the House of Commons

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This Heart Unions Week, we’re joining the TUC’s call to end harassment at work and celebrating the work of FDA rep Djuna Thurley, who has played a leading role in campaigning for an independent bullying and harassment policy in the House of Commons.

Djuna’s work as Convenor of the FDA’s House of Commons Branch has been felt nationwide, with the potential to change the House of Commons forever. Leading a campaign from the front line is never an easy task, especially one focussed on an issue as high-profile and sensitive as this, and the FDA’s successes could not have been achieved without Thurley’s unwavering commitment.

On presenting Djuna with the FDA’s 2019 Impact Award, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman praised her “courageous and principled” approach, describing her as an “invaluable leader in our ongoing campaign for a fully independent bullying and harassment procedure”.

She has worked closely with members at every stage of the campaign to ensure their views and concerns informed the union’s approach and, most importantly, that they fully endorsed the FDA’s objectives. This included organising frequent email communications as well as face to face dialogue via branch meetings and surgeries, showing great sensitivity and compassion towards members who have been affected by bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. 

The FDA was a lone voice in rejecting the new complaints procedure, introduced by then Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom in July 2018, and Djuna helped FDA head office staff to navigate the unique and complex working environment of the House, where employment and constitutional issues intersect and often play out under a national spotlight. 

There was a major breakthrough when the House of Commons Commission voted unanimously to accept the recommendations from Dame Laura Cox’s report into bullying and harassment in full, which echoed the FDA’s long-standing demands for a truly independent complaints process that enabled historic cases to be properly investigated. 

However, this commitment was made in October 2018 and we are yet to see these changes fully implemented. As such, a motion was unanimously passed at last year’s ADC calling on the House Commission to set out a clear timetable for implementation and commit to working with all unions in the House of Commons to deliver the new bullying and harassment processes. 

While our fight for a fully independent complaints process is not over yet, the huge progress we’ve made thus far would not have been possible without Djuna’s leadership.

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