More than half of women employees at Britain’s largest union Unite have been subjected to bullying and harassment at work, a leaked internal study shows.
The 39-page research titled 'Women Officers in Unite' focused on the treatment and working conditions of Unite’s 74 female representatives, who support the union’s members and elected shop stewards on shop floors and in offices.
Nearly 40 percent of the female workers said sharing working concerns with the union and their colleagues is usually viewed as a weakness.
According to the report, which was commissioned by Unite’s Officers National Committee (ONC) in February and presented to senior management in May, a quarter of the female workers were not satisfied with the union’s handling of abuse claims.
One of the women told the interviewers that she was “sexually assaulted” by a senior officer in the past.
“The old-boys network is alive and kicking unfortunately in Unite, where it is who you know and where they come from that matters.”
“I have to sit among colleagues who refer to our secretaries as the girls … [They] think it is correct to refer to black people as colored, talk about chairmen, refer to women as a piece of skirt,” another female officer said.
Howard Beckett, Unite’s executive director for legal services, said the union had received no reports of assault and would have informed law enforcement if such claims were made by an employee.
The survey’s findings comes a week after an unsuccessful attempt by Unite to overturn a court ruling that held it responsible for the sexual harassment and bullying of a female former official named Sally Nailard.
Nailard says she was forced out of her job after being abused by her coworkers for two years. She claims that instead of helping him, the union’s senior officials helped the abusive behavior to a point that she had to leave her position.
On Tuesday, an employment appeals court upheld a previous ruling that Unite was responsible for sexual harassment she was subjected to by shop stewards. The court also ruled that her dismissal amounted to sexual discrimination.