Transport union bosses ‘turned blind eye’ to sexism and bullying, report finds

It has been recommended that all of the internal leadership team leave the organisation – Shutterstock

Bosses at a transport union enabled sexual harassment with their “wilful blindness and power hoarding”, an independent inquiry found on Wednesday.

Widespread sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination was found throughout the Transport Salaried Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA).

Report author Baroness Kennedy QC recommended all of the internal leadership team should leave the organisation, and a ‘crisis administration’ should be appointed to support the TSSA as it initiates a sweeping culture change.

In response, the union, which represents more than 17,000 people in the travel and transport industries, said it was committed to making changes.

It came after media outlet Reel News published a video in which former TSSA organiser Claire Laycock made allegations of sexual harassment against the men.

In January, it was announced that the TSSA was in talks about merging with the GMB over “challenges to membership levels and financial shortfalls”.

The GMB has commissioned its own inquiry, being carried out by Karon Monaghan KC.

Baroness Kennedy said her investigations revealed appalling incidents within the TSSA, including sexual touching, sexual assault and coercive and manipulative behaviour.

“Beyond specific instances, I have found a culture that is stuck, it seems, in a morass of staff upset and grievance – on matters relating not just to sexual harassment and assault – but also to the bullying, silencing and marginalising of staff,” she wrote.

According to the report, there was a concentration of absolute power in a very small number of hands, with little or no scrutiny.

In one example detailed by Baroness Kennedy, she found that executive committee was instructed to ignore an email from a staff member expressing concerns about serious sexual harassment allegedly perpetrated by a senior figure in the organisation.

She said a total of 50 staff members came forward, with only two having something positive to say about the organisation.

The TSSA said the report made difficult reading and highlighted serious issues that it needed to face up to and tackle.

It added: “The report says that sweeping change is required within TSSA. We recognise that change is needed and that action must be taken to urgently address failings. TSSA is committed to implementing widespread change.

“We are seeking support from the GMB union and we hope to learn from their experience in tackling institutional issues, addressing head-on the challenges and driving through cultural and institutional change.”

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