Union ‘labelled go it alone nurse a bigot’

Essex County Standard: Edward Bone Edward Bone

A NURSE who set up his own trade union branch and raised concerns over patient care was subjected to a “campaign of harassment” by Unison, a tribunal has ruled.

An Employment Tribunal has decided Edward Bone, a nurse at the Lakes mental health unit in Colchester, was unfairly treated by the mental health partnership in north Essex on four occasions.

The tribunal heard how Mr Bone, of Nelson Road, Colchester, was labelled a “bigot” and greeted with the words “hello Adolf” by members of the public sector union.

Mr Bone claimed he had been targeted by Unison after trying to set up a new branch of the Workers of England Trade Union and recruit workers as members.

The verdict stated the trust failed to protect Mr Bone in order to “placate” Unison.

It said: “It is quite clear to this tribunal the local officials of Unison set out to ostracise and intimidate Mr Bone because of his membership of the Workers of England Trade Union.

“This was a striking example of an employer failing to protect an employee from a campaign of harassment and bullying pursued with a disturbing degree of spitefulness, which led to Mr Bone having to take sickness absence because of a stress related condition.”

The tribunal heard how Mr Bone had reported an incident in February 2011 where workers had refused to visit a patient at their home because they were “busy”, but was instead himself suspended for “bullying”.

The previous month, Mr Bone had returned from five months off work for being sick with stress, and was subsequently suspended until November 23 last year.

Mr Bone, who is still employed by the trust, but is not working at the Lakes, said: “I’m happy and relieved the tribunal has upheld my complaint.”

The tribunal found Mr Bone was not discriminated against on the grounds of his race, as he had claimed.

North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has 28 days to appeal.

A spokesman said: “We are considering the tribunal judgement.

“Mr Bone is still an employee and has been back at work as a nurse since February 14.

“We note his claim about race discrimination was rejected by the tribunal.

“We are particularly pleased there is no indication in the judgment Mr Bone was victimised because he was some kind of ‘whistleblower’.

“However, the tribunal clearly says the trust should have acted to protect Mr Bone from the actions of some other people. We are considering our response to this.”

The local Unison representative was unavailable to comment.

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