GMB union staff to strike over ‘sex harassment failures’

GMB union member on picket line  (PA)
GMB union member on picket line (PA)

Staff at one of Britain’s biggest trade unions have voted to strike over claims it failed to change its culture after an official inquiry found bullying, misogyny, cronyism and sexual harassment were “endemic”.

Barrister Karon Monaghan, KC, was called in to investigate misconduct at the GMB in 2020.

She said “fundamental shift” was needed at the organisation to achieve a “complete transformation”.

Employees in the North East say promised reforms have not materialised, BBC News reported.

A GMB spokesman said the union, the UK’s third-largest, is committed to listening to staff.

With more than half a million members, it is a major donor to the Labour Party.

Ms Monaghan was appointed after the sudden resignation of Tim Roache as general secretary amid allegations of misconduct, which he denied.

 (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A “bully-boy atmosphere” made the union a “hostile environment” for women.

“The culture in the GMB is one of heavy drinking and late night socialising, salacious gossip and a lack of professionalism,” her inquiry found.

“The GMB’s policies and practices are not sufficiently clear or robust to deal with sexual harassment among employees or members.”

Ms Monaghan said she did not hear any direct evidence of women securing jobs through sexual favours or a “casting couch”, but she added that the union’s culture must change if it is to be a safe and rewarding place for women.

Dozens of GMB staff - who are themselves represented by the Unite union - have now overwhelmingly backed industrial action.

The BBC reported disciplinary procedures are not being followed and their own Unite union representatives have been intimidated.

A Unite spokesman told the broadcaster: “We can confirm that our members within the GMB’s North East, Yorkshire and Humber region have voted for industrial action following a ballot over allegations which include failure to implement the recommendations of the Monaghan Report and other concerns from staff, including women.”

The GMB told the Standard it has not received any notification or information from Unite, adding: “We have been involved in an ongoing dialogue with them on issues specific to the Yorkshire area, but these were put on hold as the Unite representative informed us they are on leave until March 25.

“We are committed to listening to our staff and are available at any time for discussions to seek a suitable resolution to matters.”