Report brands GMB union 'institutionally sexist'

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The GMB Union has been called “institutionally sexist” after an independent report into sexual harassment within the organisation.

The report’s author, Karon Monaghan, said “bullying, misogyny, cronyism and sexual harassment are endemic”.

And she said policies to tackle issues are not “sufficiently clear or robust”.

The organisation’s national president, Barbara Plant, apologised to members who had suffered, saying “real and lasting change is needed”.

The investigation into the union was launched in May and lead by lawyer Ms Monaghan.

Publishing her findings on Wednesday, the QC said women were “underrepresented throughout the GMB’s ranks”, with branches “often organised in a way that deters women members’ participation”.

She said regional secretaries – “who are, and always have been, men” – held “disproportionate power” in the union, adding: “Many use that power to bully and manipulate members of the GMB’s lay bodies.”

Ms Monaghan also said there was a culture of “heavy drinking and late night socialising, salacious gossip and a lack of professionalism”.

She added: “Fundamental change is required if the GMB is to meet its promise to women in the GMB and to women in society more widely.”

The QC made a list of 27 recommendations to the union to tackle its failures, including taking steps to increase representation of women at all levels, a bespoke complaints procedure for sexual harassment and an annual equalities audit.

‘Lasting change’

Ms Plant, who has been the GMB’s national president since 2018, said the report made “sad and difficult reading”.

She said: “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.”

She said the union would now act on the report’s recommendations, adding: “We are committed to achieving this transformational change.”


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