QC asked by GMB to investigate allegations returns damning verdict
The barrister asked by the GMB to investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment has returned a damning report on the culture and conduct within the union, which has been widely considered to be aligned with the right of the Labour party.
Karon Monaghan QC’s report states flatly that the GMB is institutionally sexist, with the executive summary going on to say that:
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 regional secretaries hold disproportionate power in the GMB. Many use that power to bully and manipulate members of the GMB’s lay bodies…
Sexual harassment is common in the GMB.
Monaghan says that when she “emailed a small number of people” to ask for information – but was overwhelmed by information from around 150, with hundreds of emails – with much of the evidence corroborated by ‘many sources’ – and she notes that a common concern raised was fear of retribution if the identities of informants became known.
She concluded that:
Those concerns were not fanciful… the culture of bullying and victimisation in the GMB is such that I am satisfied the concerns were well founded.
Monaghan also notes that democracy and merit played little role in the appointment of senior personnel – with senior regional roles only ever filled by men and others overwhelmingly male-dominated:
The evidence before me clearly demonstrates that frequently it is the outgoing regional secretary and his corps, in any particular region, that decide who is to be the incoming regional secretary.
And she says that race discrimination is a serious issue in the union’s culture:
I was also contacted by a number of people from Black and minority ethnic groups. They recognised that this investigation is concerned with sexual harassment but wanted to draw to my attention the very real and serious problems that exist for members and employees from Black and minority ethnic groups. Having read written communications and spoken to some who contacted me, I am satisfied that the GMB is not a comfortable place to be for many employees and members from Black and minority ethnic groups
Monaghan notes that some officials within the union are making an effort to improve things and concludes her report with a list of recommendations for action to address the glaring issues.
But for five years, the Labour right and the so-called ‘mainstream’ media perpetrated and amplified smears and lies that claimed the left was the source of abuse, racism and harassment – while a report commissioned by the GMB itself has revealed that it was ‘endemic’ within a union that has allied to the very Labour right firing smears at the left.
And reports of such conduct are by no means limited to the GMB, with numerous and serious allegations made against leading right-wing Labour figures that have never received media attention, on top of the already-public complaints of abusive behaviour and even racism against some of the left’s chief critics.
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