‘Racism, homophobia and sexism’ exposed among union members at waste depot

Workers were regularly threatened at Brighton and Hove City council’s waste service, Cityclean, an investigation found
Workers were regularly threatened at Brighton and Hove City council’s waste service, Cityclean, an investigation found - Google Maps

A toxic culture of “racism, homophobia and sexism” has been exposed at a council’s waste service by a whistleblower report that found weapons were brought into the workplace by union staff.

The investigation into Brighton and Hove City Council’s waste service, Cityclean, found employees were threatened and managers were called “c----”, “w------”, and “a f------ b---h pulling strings”.

The independent report by Aileen McColgan KC was commissioned by Bella Sankey, the council leader, after whistleblowers came forward when she took office in May.

Many of the accused were representatives of the GMB Union within the council or “among a group of around 10 white men who were described as particularly protected by the GMB reps within the council”, the report said.

Weapons brought into depot

Ms McColgan heard accounts about GMB representatives threatening to stab people with weapons brought into the depot.

The report said: “I was told that a number of Cityclean staff had been subject to racist name-calling and that a truck had been regularly defaced with racist graffiti while parked in the depot.

“I heard that the word ‘c----’ was regularly used to and about managers. One operative told me she had been subject to overwhelming sexual ‘banter’ daily, and another spoke about the very misogynistic culture which she had to put up with because of the potential risks of challenging it.”

The report also revealed a culture of homophobia, with staff refusing to work with gay employees and bin collectors at the site “catfishing” – a practice of pretending to be someone other than yourself online – homosexual staff on LGBTQ dating app Grindr.

The southern region of the GMB union stressed it “condemns bullying, harassment, racism and homophobia, and does not condone such behaviour”.

A GMB spokesman said: “GMB has not been sent the council’s full report on this matter so is unable to comment on any contents at this stage.”

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