Damning report claims Labour-affiliated rail union has a ‘sexist, misogynistic and mafia-like’ culture
- Bombshell findings uncovered ‘appalling incidents’ including ‘sexual assault’
- TSSA bosses enabled ‘toxic’ culture through ‘wilful blindness’, the report said
A Labour-affiliated trade union at the centre of crippling rail strikes has a ‘sexist’, ‘misogynistic’ and ‘mafia-like’ culture, a damning report found yesterday.
The bombshell findings by Helena Kennedy KC uncovered ‘appalling incidents’ including ‘inappropriate touching, sexual assault, coercive behaviour, violent language’ and ‘humiliation and denigration of staff’.
Bosses at the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), which has donated £350,000 to Labour over the past five years and whose strikes the party has backed, enabled the ‘toxic’ culture through ‘wilful blindness, power hoarding and poor practices’, the report said.
It comes after the union’s former boss Manuel Cortes stepped down in October amid allegations of unwanted touching and demanding kisses from at least two women. The inquiry found women joining the union were warned ‘never to be alone’ with him and that he ‘had a habit of drinking too much and becoming over-familiar with female staff’.
The bombshell findings by Helena Kennedy KC (pictured) uncovered ‘appalling incidents’ including ‘inappropriate touching, sexual assault, coercive behaviour, violent language’ and ‘humiliation and denigration of staff’
Baroness Kennedy added: ‘It would be a mistake to think that sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying are resolved by his departure.’
The inquiry was launched last summer after a video was published in which former TSSA organiser Claire Laycock made allegations against Mr Cortes and two others.
The 31-page report confirmed: ‘There has been sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying, and the leadership has enabled this.’
Baroness Kennedy went on: ‘These incidents included inappropriate and sexual touching, sexual assault, coercive and manipulative behaviour, violent and disrespectful language, and humiliation and denigration of members of staff, reps and members of the Executive Committee (EC).
Pictured: TSSA members on picket line (file photo). Bosses at TSSA, which has donated £350,000 to Labour over the past five years and whose strikes the party has backed, enabled the ‘toxic’ culture through ‘wilful blindness, power hoarding and poor practices’, the report said
‘Some of this behaviour was actually witnessed directly by me. The words used to describe the culture included toxic, dysfunctional, sexist, misogynistic, racist, homophobic and mafia-like.’
The report added: ‘I heard staff with complaints described by members of the leadership as “whingers”, “rats” and “vultures”.’
The report issued six recommendations for overhauling the union’s management and complaints procedures, including replacing the president and treasurer.
The TSSA said it accepted all the recommendations.
The union represents rail workers and has joined the RMT and Aslef unions in several waves of strikes which have crippled the railways since last summer.
Mr Cortes did not respond to requests for comment.
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