Parliamentary staff force emergency meeting over abuse claims

Staff in the House of Commons have demanded an extraordinary general meeting of the Parliamentary branch of Unite the union to discuss abuse concerns and agree a plan of action following a week of revelations about the conduct of MPs at Westminster.

The meeting will take place in a Commons committee room at lunchtime on Thursday. It was convened after Unite, which represents researchers, advisers and support staff who work for MPs, issued a statement in response to the Westminster abuse scandal on Tuesday without consulting members.

The Unite statement called for the creation of a Parliament-wide harassment policy and HR training programme. But members were angered by the proposals outlined in the statement, with many complaining they do not go far enough to tackle the culture of bullying and intimidation they claim is rife in Parliament.

MPs and staff have called for the creation of an independent body that will be responsible for investigating allegations of abuse.

The statement from the Unite Parliamentary branch also argued that it should be officially recognised by the parliamentary standards body IPSA so that it can negotiate on employment issues on behalf of its members.

Many staff members believe that will not solve the problem of abuse because a number Labour MPs are members of the Parliamentary branch of Unite. But they were told by branch officials to raise their concerns privately with Unite reps.

Following a backlash from members, the branch has now agreed to hold an emergency meeting at 1:30pm on Thursday in House of Commons Committee Room 19.

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