One of Nova Scotia's largest public sector unions is trying to get the word bully in workplace violence regulations.

Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, said the behavior is currently labeled psychological harassment but it's time to stop beating around the bush.

“It's bullying, so let's call it what it is,” she said at the NSGEU's biennial convention being held in Halifax. “But adults don't like to be called bullies and they don't like to think they're bullies.”

Jessome said labor groups have been trying for a number of years to get bullying labelled as a form of workplace violence but there has been resistance due to the pervasiveness of the problem.

“(The previous government) brought the (workplace violence) regulations in as long as we didn't include the word bullying,” she said. “I was told, 'Joan, it's just too massive. It's 90 percent of the violence in the workplace.'”

The NSGEU, representing 29,000 government employees, launched an anti-bullying program last fall that provides free workplace workshops.

To date, about 4,400 people have gone through the program since October. Some employers are making it mandatory.

Rick Clarke, head of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, also touted bullying as a serious problem.

“The bullies in the schoolyard today are the bullies in the workplace tomorrow,” he said in remarks to delegates.