Tuesday 27 June 2017

'Booze, bullies and perverts' rife at museum

The National History Museum – Archaeology, on Kildare Street, is one of three sites run by the National Museum in Dublin
The National History Museum – Archaeology, on Kildare Street, is one of three sites run by the National Museum in Dublin
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A toxic work environment rife with bullying, excessive drinking and "perverts" is making life a living hell for workers at the National Museum, a damning report by RTÉ's 'Drivetime' programme claims.

According to the yet-unpublished 'Work Positive Profile Management Report' obtained by RTÉ, 70pc of employees at the State-run museum "want mental health support to help deal with stress and depression".

Yet a psychotherapist hired to deal with staff complaints claims her concerns around bullying were ignored.

Stephanie Regan, who ran an employee assistance programme between 2008 and 2012, claims both museum management and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht - which ultimately oversees the museum - failed to act on the allegations.

"Over time, I heard a number of stories that were very disturbing and they were that people had made complaints and those complaints were taken off the file," she said. "The toxic nature of what was presented, that is what is so awful, relentless and systematic."

The report into the alleged bullying conducted last November cited one employee who complained of having to deal with "bullies and perverts" on the job. Another 20pc of employees claimed they are "sometimes" a victim of bullying. One in five employees stated they are "often or always" subjected to bullying.

The survey of 96 staff found more than 40pc believe they will develop anxiety or depression due to workplace stress.

Close to 70pc of respondents described morale as poor or very poor, with bad communication and a lack of trust key irritants at work.

It cited staff requesting "social activities not involving the pub", as well as counselling and anger management and tips to "deal with bullies and perverts".

The survey concluded that "an unacceptably high number of staff endure personal harassment or friction with colleagues".

The museum said it has employed the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to run a "Dignity at work" training workshop, since the report was conducted.

Peadar Tóibin TD, chair of the Oireachtas Arts and Heritage Committee, called on representatives from the museum and the department, including Minister Heather Humphreys to appear before a committee to address what he called "an HR (human resources) crisis".

A spokesman for the minister's department said it is the museum board that is responsible for running the museum and "holding the CEO and senior management to account".

The National Museum runs three sites in Dublin: the Archaeology museum on Kildare Street, the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street and the Museum of Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks.

The museum said it has set up a museum council and staff consultation forum and made "improvements in communications between staff and management" since the report was conducted.

Irish Independent

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