“[I]t stretches credulity for me that the internal management and President of the TSSA were not aware”
The President and Treasurer of the TSSA union have resigned with immediate effect, following scathing criticism – though by no means only of them – and a demand for their departure in Baroness Kennedy’s report on sexual harassment and discrimination within the union, which has been published today as Skwawkbox revealed last night.
Mick Carney, who has quit as president, was slammed for brushing over allegations and telling the TSSA executive to ignore complaints made by a ‘troublemaker’ as long ago as 2017:
As far back as 2017, the EC received an email from an ex-member of staff expressing concerns about ‘serious sexual harassment allegedly perpetrated by a senior figure within the staff at TSSA.’ It seems the EC were instructed by the President and internal leadership that the 2017 memo came from a disgruntled former employee, a ‘troublemaker’ effectively, and was to be ignored.
and that Carney’s response to her investigation was limited to, ‘Well I never witnessed anything’.
Kennedy also said that it ‘stretched credulity’ to claim that Carney and other members of senior management were unaware of what was an ‘open secret’ inside – and outside – the union:
To not have witnessed an incident does not abrogate one of responsibility. There would be no functioning of the criminal justice system if it required that all crime is actually witnessed by all who testify. Incidents of sexual harassment, assault and bullying, tend, by their nature, not to occur out in the open. They often play out through insidious behaviours, manipulation and coercion. (Although it should be noted that many of the incidents of inappropriate touching that I heard information about did, in fact, occur publicly and it stretches credulity for me that the internal management and President of the TSSA were not aware of these). The TUC has done a great deal of education and provision of resources on prevention of sexual harassment. Only a cursory glance at these would show the inadequacy, in safeguarding, in duty of care or in moral responsibility, of the ‘I never saw anything’ response. Indeed, had the TSSA completed the TUC’s Preventing sexual harassment checklist in a thorough and open manner, collaboratively with staff, I have no doubt that they would have been compelled to act to make change.
According to the report, Carney also completely neglected his duty under the union’s rules to review the performance of the general secretary – Manuel Cortes ‘retired’ from the position last year after allegations came to light – annually. No review was carried out, leaving Cortes unscrutinised for a decade of Carney’s tenure.
Kennedy also told the union that Treasurer Alex Stoten should go because he and Carney had ‘failed in their duty of oversight’. The report provides no detail directly mentioning the treasurer, although it seems this is linked to the pay-off Cortes received despite leaving under a cloud last year, to the approval of inappropriate expenses including the practice of leaving a union credit card at the bar to encourage staff at gatherings to get drunk, fuelling many of the wider issues.
Interim officials have been appointed by the union until permanent replacements can be elected.
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