Amid news this week that whistle-blowers forced to sign NDAs, or so called “gagging orders”, by the national Labour Party have been threatened with legal action by the party for ‘breaching’ them, we call on Labour Leader of the Council Cllr. Swindlehurst to ban their use.
In November 2017 in the wake of several high-profile departures of senior staff amidst bullying allegations, the Conservative group of councillors passed a motion calling on the Council to adhere to its ‘Actions Speak Louder’ values. These values advocate transparency in its actions, commitment to fully investigate all current and future allegations of abuse, and bullying from senior members of staff and elected members.
However, over the last two years Slough Borough Council have issued several NDAs to departing staff in the wake of allegations of bullying and abuse – which clearly contradicts the spirit of the motion that was passed.
It is also clear that Senior Labour figures do not support their use – including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who presented a petition to 10 Downing Street in 2015 calling for NDAs to be scrapped altogether, and this week Labour Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, called attempts by the party to gag whistle-blowers as ‘stupid’.
If Cllr. Swindlehurst wants to ensure that there is transparency in everything the Council does and ensure employees feel able to speak out – he should show leadership on this issue and ban the use of gagging orders, which only serve to undermine the spirit of the council’s own values.