Hard to measure if culture of fear is gone, says Laverty

The new ‘Change Manager’ at the ‘Tech,’ William Laverty, says it’s difficult to measure whether the ‘culture of fear’ reported by Harry McConnell in his critical report on industrial relations at the College last year, still exists or not.

Mr Laverty was asked about the matter by Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan during a briefing of the Employment and Learning Committee at Stormont.

During the same briefing Mr Laverty also said he did not want to overplay negativity about an apparent lack of engagement with College management by the University and College Union (UCU).

He said the union was engaging and that it is “talking to people” and “listening, and, progressively, it is in a better place than it was maybe a year ago.”

But Mr Flanagan asked: “Is the culture of fear that existed gone, or is that still there?”

Mr Laverty responded with a question of his own: “How do you measure that?”

He continued: “I have met people who have said that they had grave reservations.

“I have met other people who said that they love working here. It is very difficult to quantify.

“What I can say is that, if you measure it based on the atmosphere, you do not feel that there is an atmosphere of nervousness and fear around the college.

“You detect that in things like quietness, lack of willingness to speak and reservedness, and that just is not there in everyday life, I perceive.”

The Sinn Féin MLA asked if this lightening of atmosphere reported by Mr Laverty had been remarked upon by individuals or groups at the local College.

Mr Laverty said individuals rather than groups had been commenting upon a lighter atmosphere.

“Individuals certainly are, and I have had cause to take individuals’ issues to senior management and be there when they were discussed. It has been forthright sometimes, and it has been open, but it has not been intimidating.”