September 27, 2023

A misogynistic tradition that condoned sexual harassment, violent language and bullying was pervasive on the TSSA rail union, in accordance with the findings of an unbiased inquiry on Wednesday.

The report, led by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, known as for sweeping modifications to revive the union’s status and defend that of the broader commerce union motion.

The union opened the investigation final 12 months after allegations of sexual harassment had been made in opposition to Manuel Cortes, its former common secretary, who retired in October. Cortes has denied the allegations.

However Kennedy’s report concluded that “it could be a mistake to assume that any issues referring to sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying are resolved by his departure”.

She stated greater than 50 individuals had volunteered to talk to her, describing a “vindictive”, “sexist” and “mafia-like” tradition during which heavy consuming was regular.

The report described how senior employees would normally use sexualised phrases comparable to “nutless” or “c**t”, and ladies would fear in the event that they wanted to work late or journey with sure colleagues who had been well-known for inappropriate behaviour.

The TSSA — whose members have joined these of different transport unions in current strikes over pay — isn’t the one union that has needed to withstand deep-rooted issues with sexual harassment in recent times.

Manuel Cortes of the TSSA © Man Bell/Shutterstock

The same scandal precipitated a change of management on the GMB union in 2020, whereas Pat Cullen, common secretary of the Royal School of Nursing, got here into publish in 2021 with the same remit to scrub up a sexualised tradition the place girls had been put in danger.

Kennedy, who known as for an entire change of management on the TSSA, stated she had undertaken the inquiry as a result of the UK had “an pressing want for wholesome unions”, given its current historical past of public sector wage “suppression”, a rise in precarious work, “informal erosion” of employment rights and new challenges to the suitable to strike.

Paul Nowak, common secretary of the Trades Union Congress — which represents 48 member unions — stated the report had revealed a “shameful and unacceptable tradition of bullying and sexual harassment” that had “no place within the commerce union motion or any office”.

“This report should result in real tradition change,” Nowak added.

The TSSA stated the report made “troublesome studying” and had highlighted “severe points that the union must withstand and sort out”.

The union was searching for assist from the GMB and hoped to study from its expertise in driving by way of cultural and institutional change, it stated, including that its president and treasurer had stood down and that its govt committee would act on the report’s suggestions.

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