Working with Alan Shawcroft, we carried out a second interview this week because we were concerned that SECURITAS were being unfairly highlighted as responsible for a number of incidents of bullying directed towards him. In truth Alan worked in Security for a number of companies at AB Inbev commencing with VINCI in 2011 and then Mitie, in 2014. (Mitie were one of Britains Top Employers in 2020). He says the TUPE Process was used to switch the contracts of everyone involved to one inferior to the one they enjoyed with VINCI. He was transferred again under the TUPE process to SECURITAS in March 2019. Throughout he worked primarily as a supervisor on client sites belonging to AB Inbev. The incidents he relates to his eventual dismissal he attributes to the aggressive behaviour of the AB Inbev Contract manager toward him and others. Alan says that she delivered the final act towards his dismissal while he was employed by SECURITAS. Alan believes that opportunities to prevent his dismissal were missed by managers at SECURITAS.
In summary, at the end of this second interview we had further identified some of the toxic behaviours towards him that led to his injury. The aggressive management style of the manager in question was well known in the company and people avoided working for her if they could. As the contract manager she actively pursued Alan’s dismissal by bullying him throughout his employment. She followed through to the final act as the contract changed in 2019 while he was in hospital.
(For the purpose of these notes the following the sub heading names the toxic workplace behaviour and puts it into the context of incidents Alan describes. Where necessary the behaviour is further validated by the experience of others).
Exploitation and Victimisation
In April 2014 colleagues began to notice discrepancies in their pay. “Holiday pay incorrect, overtime incorrect etc. In fact during the time they had the contract from April 2014 to March 2019, Mitie would still on a regular basis, pay overtime incorrectly, eventually the guys stopped doing overtime, which caused more problems”. Alan says he continuously challenged this, not just for himself but colleagues. On this point he agrees it could have led in some part to his victimisation as he thinks the workforce was being exploited.
NB. One of the key characteristics of military leadership is that of standing up for people in your team and challenging bad behaviour. Dixon said in his experieince, this would almost certainly put Alan at odds with toxic management and make him a target for victimisation.
Information Withholding\Goal Blocking
While Alan was responsible for managing a guard shift rota, (one of his goals) AB Inbev management made it difficult for him by interfering with the conduct of his duties to the point he could no longer perform the task. For example Alan would rota staff only to find they had been granted leave. He would only find out about the leave at the time the guards didn’t show up for their shift. The information he needed to do his job had been withheld.
(Moreover, more recently he says that his subject access requests are currently being delayed as he seeks information about his dismissal.)
He says he worked with less than the established numbers of guards for long periods of time because management refused to allow him to make up the numbers.
Also he was criticised for “allowing” lorries to park on a public highway outside of his workplace, something that was way above his control and pay grade to resolve.
Demeaning, Mocking and Public Humiliation
Alan said that his suppervisor regularly demeaned and mocked him in front of colleagues. This caused him to be openly mocked by subordinates and colleagues. Abusive incidents he experienced with his supervisor happened in his primary worplace where he was surrounded by colleagues he was responsible for, and also using the company email system.
Dixon explained that cyber bullying using company email systems is quite common and now acknowledged as a technique used by workplace bullies. In his experieince, Demeaning, mocking or humiliating emails are sent to the victim and carbon copied to his or her colleagues. The victim is often obliged by policy to respond, adding to the pressure in his work role. Personnel today carried this article by David Webb during anti-bullying week in 2017.
Demeaning a colleague in the workplace is little understood, but is designed to subjugate victims. It encourages colleagues to further criticise the victim. “Man up” and “Put up\Shut Up” are common taunts used to justify the behaviour.
Alan’s military mindset would instantly be impacted by demeaning because the most basic military leadership courses contain the simple rule never to “bollock” (Chastise or Punish) an NCO in front of his or her men.
Taking away Work
Eventually the work of doing the rota was removed from his portfolio. Rather than give him full responsibility and support him in the role, it was more important to his supervisor that Alan was seen to be incompetent and humiliated.
During his time with MITIE Alan reported several cases of gross misconduct only to find his management refusing to apply company policy and disciplinary procedures. He mentions a number of incidents of gross misconduct including:
A security guard caught stealing from the company warehouse. Allowed back to work after three months suspension on full pay.
Another guard, regularly asleep on duty and another drunk on duty. All retained their jobs.
We discussed the precarious position this left Alan in, with workers who he had reported and who should have been dismissed. Dixon explained that such workers would hold a grudge against him and would do anything to get rid of him. Effectively he became a marked man. The workforce certainly would not support him and some would have gone behind his back to senior management. Anything Alan did that they didn’t like they could twist into a misdemeanour on his part and also he would be set up to fail – a euphemism for sabotage or undermining.
Alan agreed. He had heard some of this but could not escape it, other than to give up his job which is not in his mindset. He would have been more inclined to attempt to correct the situation. On this point Alan’s unscrupulous managers would have been acutely aware that he could expose them, which would lead to further targetting.
in April 2019 Alan was TUPE’d to SECURITAS. Contract terms were honoured and after a period of seven years without a pay rise at MITIE a 7% pay rise was forthcoming. Alas but from that point on he says he percieved that his cards were being marked with SECURITAS by the toxic contract manager(s) at IN Bev et al.
The TUPE process began before he went to hospital. he says the manager responsible for security at AB Inbev was keen to point out to his new bosses that she would’t have him on site. There began a relocation process where Alan was eventually dismissed after he discussed reasonable adjustments which were simply refused.
When another manager came to work with Alan they both agreed that this workplace was not normal and showed the company in a bad light. As Alan wasn’t being listened to, he would attempt to rectify the situation and he was instantly dismissed.
We conclude you would have to be dishonest to work in Alan’s Job with Mitie if you wanted to fit in. This reminds us that “Fit in or Fuck Off” is a well used mantra in toxic work cultures.