Letters

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article LettersOn 5 Oct 2004 in Personnel Today Thisweek’s lettersWorkplace bullying must be uncovered andstamped outItwas with huge relief I read your excellent 28 September issue and the resultsof your survey with the Andrea Adams Trust on workplace bullying. At last,someone is giving airtime to this problem and has realised that HRprofessionals also fall victim to it. Ileft a job just over two years ago after being bullied by a maverick boss, whowas obviously keen to prove himself as a “business partner”, andmore. He wanted to climb to the top of the tree, and he wasn’t letting anyoneget in the way of his ambitions to be a board director.Becausemy boss was so attuned to employment law, trendy business terms and the do’sand don’ts of dealing with staff, he turned his tactics into apolitically-correct version of bullying, which he referred to as”performance management”.Don’tget me wrong – I am all in favour of managing performance and pulling people upwhen they need it.  I know exactly whatthe term means – performance management is not the same thing as bullying. Still,my boss successfully muddied the waters in very subtle but devastating ways. Icomplained twice about being bullied, to people higher up the food chain. Theydidn’t believe me, and the bullying got worse – impossible targets, constantcriticism… Iwent to an employment lawyer who thought I would win my case, but I decided Icould not handle the stress of going through with it. I resigned, andconsequently suffered from depression. I totally lost confidence in myabilities, and it took me a year to feel able to look for another job. Inow work in a busy HR department dealing with just over 2,000 employees, and amgradually accepting more and more responsibility as my confidence is restored.Workplace bullying needs to be stamped out. For a while, it wrecked my life.Details supplied Employers need to pay for rep trainingYouasked your readers whether employers should pay for the training of union reps(News barometer, Personnel Today, 7 September).Employersneed to realise that their workforce is a useful tool in the workplace. Ifgiven encouragement and support in gaining qualifications and experience, theirfuture input into the company with ideas, support of company procedures andlegal requirements would be invaluable. Christine RhodesDetails suppliedWomen still on the rise at Brent CouncilThanks to PersonnelToday for the very welcome article about Brent Council’s flexible workingpolicies which have helped more women move into senior posts (Breaking theglass ceiling, 14 September). We were delighted with your coverage of our local authority, but wouldlike to clarify a couple of things.Thefirst is that Brent’s chief executive Gareth Daniel, does not – as claimed inthe piece – work a compressed week. Like most other chief executives, he worksfor as long as the job demands, which means he often works in the evening andat weekends. Secondly,the leader of Brent Council, Ann John, as an elected member of the council (andnot an officer) also works on behalf of the borough, for however many hours aredemanded by her role. This is also true of other council leaders, I’m sure.Thegood news, however, is that since you published this article, we have foundthat the proportion of women in senior management has increased yet again by 8per cent in the past year.  This means,that since 2001, the number of women in top jobs at Brent has increased from 30per cent to 48 per cent.Sothanks again for your coverage, and watch this space!Tracy WaltersHead of diversity, corporate diversity team Blanket approach to diversity won’t workAsa diversity gatekeeper, I wish to comment on your 21 September edition, whichcontained some stark contrasts. Thefront page talked about HR putting its own house in order regarding equal pay.I agree wholeheartedly. Then, on page 31, an article with the headline‘Recruitment revolution’ quotes an HR adviser for Woolworths as saying: “It’s good to know thatevery candidate has been screened and dealt with in exactly the same way.”Thissupports the myth that the road to equal and fair treatment is to treateveryone in the same way. In reality, this approach serves to discriminate,albeit inadvertently, and is cited as a factor in the McPherson report’sdescription of ‘institutional racism’. And one of the Disability DiscriminationAct’s requirements is to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to practices andprocedures to overcome discrimination. Themove to a ‘one size fits all’ approach may be good for an organisation’sfinances, but it serves to increase disadvantage unless significant efforts aremade to create alternative options. I’llkeep reading Personnel Today with interest!Jane GoodwinEquality and diversity adviser, HampshireCounty Council Quick fixes will not plug gender pay gapIread Michael Millar’s article in Personnel Today about gender pay gaps in theHR profession with some interest (News, 21 September). As an HR manager inmanufacturing, I am fully aware of the historic preference towards men insenior positions. This has obviously been reflected in HR. I am, however,concerned at the inference that HR professionals are in some way creating this situationthrough discrimination. Ithink it would be more appropriate to study the ratio of women against men inHR manager positions (which has clearly grown in the past 10 years in women’sfavour), and to compare starting salaries at management level for each gender.My guess is that such a study’s results would show that the inflated salariesfor men are historic (those in a job for five years or more), that the majorityof new recruits enjoy salary equity, but that many more women are recruited tothe HR profession. Thenature of employment nowadays is that people move on quicker, and althoughthere is a clear argument that you should be paid for the job you do,regardless of time served, there has always been an element of incremental paythat many of the long-term HR managers (mostly male) from years gone by willhave benefited from.Theover-reaction in your report from some very senior people within the HR worldwill inflame the issue among the profession, and is likely to lead to anover-inflation of salaries all-round. Let’stake a sensible approach to gender and salary and recognise the good work beingdone within the profession to removehistoric inequality – and the education of long-term traditionalist directorsand managers – rather than seeking irrational quick fixes.Pete SmithFrustrated HR managerDismissal rules have not caused difficultyWeoverworked and underpaid personnel practitioners have enough real problems toworry about, without Personnel Today tryingto frighten us with fictitious bogeymen! Irefer to the article on your website by Daniel Thomas on the subject of the newdispute and disciplinary rules, headlined Newdismissal rules make it harder to sack employees (News, personneltoday.com, 20 September). Thenew statutory procedure has three stages, not 13, and I believe the vastmajority of responsible employers will have to make little effort to complywith them, apart from introducing the step of putting invitations todisciplinary meetings in writing. Thomas’assertion that the new rules will make it harder to sack employees is onlypartly true. They will make it very difficult to sack an employee unfairly, andthat is surely no bad thing, since it should never be a simple matter todeprive someone of their livelihood in any case.Ihave revised my organisation’s procedure to accommodate the new rules, and didnot find it difficult to do. Like most personnel managers, over the past fewmonths I have been on the receiving end of a lot of unsolicited literature fromthe legal profession, attempting to drum up business on the basis thatArmageddon is coming, and only the employment lawyers can save us. Alistair McIntoshGroup personnel manager, Balmoral GroupEditor’s reply: The 13-step guide is aDTI measure, and the assertion that the rules will make it harder to sackemployees came from legal experts. ‘Scaremongering’is not our intention, but business groups such as the Federation of SmallBusinesses and law firms have warned that companies that are not aware of thelegislation may be caught out financially. Hence we reported this.last_img read more

Looking ordinary, being exceptional

first_imgThe Fine Arts Library in Littauer Hall seems pleasant, neat, and — in the best sense — ordinary. Upstairs, three book-lined rooms gleam in the daylight. Downstairs, two levels of utilitarian stacks, painted muted colors, have lights that snap on when you enter.But in fact this corner of the Depression-era granite building is not ordinary at all. It is a model of sustainability for libraries. The wood trim is from sustainable forests, the lighting is energy-efficient, and recycled material is in the wallboard, carpets, and even the furniture.“The reuse of furniture is hugely important. It’s enormous,” said Paul Bellenoit, discussing the savings in costs and materials. He is director of operations and security for Harvard College Library (HCL). Some tables and all study carrels had to be refinished, fitted with power sources, or trimmed to fit new spaces.All of the furniture moved with the Fine Arts Library, which was housed in the Fogg Museum on Quincy Street until the museum closed for renovation and expansion. For the next five to eight years, the library will be housed in Littauer, a grand-columned, granite building built in 1931.Indoor air quality was part of the Fine Arts Library project too. Workers applied paint, adhesives, and sealants that emit very low levels of VOCs, the volatile organic compounds associated with some manufactured products.“You don’t have that new-building sort of smell,” said Andrea Ruedy Trimble, manager of green building services for Harvard’s Office for Sustainability. Bellenoit added that low levels of such vapors — less than 1 percent of standard materials — also protect vulnerable printed materials.Energy savings were a big part of the design. Conservation measures and efficient fixtures have reduced lighting power density, a way of rating energy use by watts per square foot, by 15 percent, said Trimble.There are both practical and aesthetic considerations to another environmental positive for the renovated space that used to house the Littauer Library: daylight. Trimble said that 90 percent of library seating has access to exterior views. Green building guidelines have been in place for all Harvard projects since 2007. But the Fine Arts Library work went a step further by earning project LEED Gold status, the only Harvard library so far to be LEED-certified.LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a set of exacting codes from the U.S. Green Building Council. Projects are ranked like precious metals, with platinum the highest and gold and silver the next in order. LEED scorecards rate site placement, water efficiency, energy use, materials, indoor air quality, and innovation. The Fine Arts Library garnered 40 points, just shy of the 42 required for the platinum rating.The project carries an important message for Harvard, whose classic building stock tends to be on the old side. Said Trimble, “It shows that you can create an efficient space within an existing historic building.”But the Fine Arts Library is not the only good-news sustainability story, said Beth Brainard, HCL director of communications. In fact, the Harvard College Library has been getting green building makeovers and implementing energy conservation measures for a decade, she said, well before LEED standards were established.Widener Library, with its 51 miles of shelving and hundreds of light fixtures, underwent changes starting in 1999. Since then, old-fashioned button lights for each stack have been replaced by motion-activated sensors. Corridor lighting (735 fixtures in total) is being retrofitted with motion sensors, a project that is halfway to completion. That change alone will save $30,000 a year in energy and maintenance costs, and will generate $11,000 in utility rebates.HCL operations manages five free-standing libraries: Widener, Lamont, Pusey, Houghton, and Tozzer. Heating and cooling systems in the five are on stop-start optimization systems now, said Bellenoit, “rather than having it full volume all the time.” (The Harvard College Library system includes eight more libraries and a technical services facility. All are tenants in Faculty of Arts and Sciences buildings.)Motion sensors are being installed for lights in every library office (340 so far). And all toilets and sinks are now low-flow models to conserve water. Widener’s 25 water coolers are gone, a savings of $8,000 a year in energy and bottled water costs.The dramatic chandeliers in Widener once required 24 bulbs at 60 watts each. Replacement bulbs, which impart the same sort of lighting, are only 14 watts each. They also have to be replaced only once every four years instead of three times a year. The savings total $3,000 a year in energy alone.Then there is “delamping” in the HCL libraries, turning off or removing unneeded light fixtures, including redundant lights on 300 Widener study carrels. Reading room spotlights 40 feet in the air have been shut off, saving Harvard $10,000 a year just for bulb changes.“There’s the headline,” said Bellenoit of the delamping strategy. “Lose nothing, gain a lot.”Space heaters in the libraries (as many as 30) were rated at a power-draining 1,500 watts per hour of use. Now there are nine space heaters in the building, each rated at a modest 170 watts.Along with the rest of the buildings associated with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the HCL libraries now have temperature set points for heating and cooling. The highest allowable heat setting is 71 degrees, and the cooling units won’t kick in until a room reaches 75 degrees.The next LEED project for the library system? A new heating and cooling system for Pusey Library is on the drawing board and is at least two years away.In the grand scheme of things, the Fine Arts Library is not a special case so much as it is a sign of continued commitment to sustainability at HCL.A decade or more of experience in making libraries sustainable has put HCL in “a good place” now that energy efficiency and the environment are among Harvard’s highest priorities, said Brainard. “We’ve been able to respond on a variety of fronts.”last_img read more

SUSPENDED: Former prime minister Patrick Manning suspended from TT Parliament

first_img Share Tweet Sharing is caring! Share PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – The People’s Partnership coalition used its overwhelming  majority in the Parliament on Monday night to vote in favour of an immediate suspension of former prime minister Patrick Manning , who had been found guilty by the Privileges Committee of contempt.The eight-member Committee had last weekend submitted its report after it met to discuss allegations Manning made against Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar regarding the construction of her private home.Manning, who had asked to be excused from Monday’s parliamentary session where the report was debated and who did not appear before the Privileges Committee,  had accused her Government of carrying out the agenda of those who financed them in the election campaign, those “who were involved in the drug trade”.Charging that Government was undermining the anti-drug effort put in place by his administration, Manning had said the private residence cost  TT$150 million (US$25 million) telling legislators “to what conclusion do you expect us to come? They were struggling to build that house before the election”.The Prime Minister denied the accusation and the Committee stated that despite having invited the former prime minister to appear before it to answer the allegations against him and to be heard on numerous occasions, “the Member has refused to respond to the allegations before the Committee and has requested adjournments of the Committee’s proceedings for a variety of reasons”.By a vote of 25 to nine, Parliament voted to accept the findings of the Privileges Committee.“Mr. Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning is accordingly suspended from the service of this House with immediate effect,” Speaker Wade Mark said after the vote.A number of Parliamentarians were absent from the 41-member Chamber when the vote was taken.Earlier, Leader of Government Business, Dr Roodal Moonilal who piloted the motion to have the report debated, said that the Committee took an inordinate amount of time on this matter—six months—and therefore could not be accused of “rushing” to take action against Manning.He dismissed Opposition charges that the Privileges Committee had moved with indecent haste to make a contempt finding against the former prime minister.“There are people in this country who believe they are untouchable, and they can commit a wrong and no one dares to touch them. But they on this side, anybody on that side could touch them,” he said.He said the message the Parliament was sending was that: “no one on your side and on this side is above the law. And the recent evidence suggests that no one in the Government is above the law and no one in the Opposition must be above the law as well”.In dismissing the Opposition claims that Manning was not given sufficient notice of the Privilege Committee’s meeting, Moonilal asked whether the Committee had to put up a neon sign advertising the meeting.He also dismissed a call that the prime minister should have been questioned by the Privileges Committee where the three opposition members would have had an opportunity to gauge her response as well as challenge some of her statements she submitted.Moonilal said nowhere in the bundle of 500 pages of the report and the verbatim notes of the Committee’s meetings did the Opposition asked that  Persad-Bissessar be interviewed.“Why would the Parliament examine the person against whom allegations are made, rather than the person making the allegations. He who alleges must prove,” he said, adding that this is the system.Moonilal said he was certain that despite threats to challenge the issue in court, he was certain the former prime minister would not do so, having regard to the high cost of paying for senior counsels if he lost.Opposition legislators had argued that the Privileges Committee made several blunders including the fact that at no time was Manning told that the Committee intended to proceed and to make an adverse finding of contempt against him and that  there had been a breach of natural justice in the whole affair.Manning, who is in Cuba receiving medical treatment, is due back on May 20.center_img NewsRegional SUSPENDED: Former prime minister Patrick Manning suspended from TT Parliament by: – May 17, 2011 Share 20 Views   no discussionslast_img read more