GMB union urged to change its culture to end bullying and sexual harassment

A leading trade union has been urged to change its culture after an official inquiry found that bullying, misogyny, cronyism and sexual harassment were “endemic” within the organisation.

Barrister Karon Monaghan, QC, said “fundamental shift” was needed at the GMB to achieve a “complete transformation.”

She was appointed earlier this year to conduct an independent inquiry after the sudden resignation of Tim Roache as general secretary amid allegations of misconduct, which he has denied.

Barbara Plant, the union’s national president, said: “Karon’s report makes sad and difficult reading. On behalf of GMB, I apologise to all those who have experienced sexual harassment or bullying within the union.

“It’s clear that real and lasting change is needed for us to become a safe and inclusive place for all.

“Under the leadership of the Central Executive Council, the union will now act on the report’s recommendations. We are committed to achieving this transformational change.”

The report said: “The GMB is institutionally sexist. The General Secretaries and all regional secretaries are, and always have been, men. Women are underrepresented throughout the GMB’s ranks.

“There is significant job segregation at regional level, with officer grades disproportionately filled by men and staff grades disproportionately filled by women.

“Branches are male dominated with limited female participation, and are often organised in a way that deters women members’ participation.

“Bullying, misogyny, cronyism and sexual harassment are endemic within the GMB.

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

“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.