The Hague to tackle “toxic” working conditions at town hall

Saskia Bruines has said she wants to tackle the allegations Photo: Valerie Kuypers

The Hague local council is starting an investigation into the working culture at the city’s town hall following allegations of bullying.

NOS reports that the council is acting on a letter, also sent to unions FNV and CNV, in which several anonymous civil servants are accusing superiors of exploiting them, discrimination, exclusion and bullying.

The working culture at the education, culture and economic departments are particularly “toxic”, with management turning a blind eye, the letter writers reportedly claimed.

Council workers with an ethnic background are allegedly singled out for bad treatment and feel their career is not progressing because of it. Criticism, or long spells of sick leave would end in dismissal, the letter said.

Alderwoman Saskia Bruines who is responsible for staff said at a council meeting on Thursday she regretted that people with a grievance could not turn to their superiors or compliance officer.

Bruines said she is taking the letter “extremely seriously” but also said she is “hard put to understand what the letter is about because of the anonymity”. She is calling on workers to come to her or the council secretary so action can be taken.

Bruines is also bringing forward the three-yearly staff survey into working conditions and will be talking to unions and compliance officers about how the survey can be adapted to include  questions concerning unwanted behaviour.

According to FNV union official Koos Maarleveld the complaints are not new. “For too long we hoped that things would get better but nothing has changed. Workers are feeling let down,” he told local broadcaster Omroep West.

Maarleveld called Bruines’ suggestion that people should turn to their compliance officer a case of “the butcher inspecting his own meat”. The FNV favours an independent commission for reports of unacceptable behaviour, he said.

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