Sunday, 31 January 2010

Why is Peter Bennett on the ACAS Council?

Harriet Harman may well ask her senior colleague Lord Mandelson why his department is funding ACAS when one of the 'independent' organisation's governing Council, who are appointed by the Business Secretary, is none other than Peter Bennett, head of HR at Network Rail. Labour MP Jim Devine has raised Bennett's little pecadilloes in the House on more than one occassion, saying his department 'is not fit for purpose'. Bennett himself would be unlikely to endear himself to Harman; Devine reported allegations under Parliamentary privilege that Bennett called one woman a "silly fucking black bitch", told another she had a nice arse, and asked her to take off her top to show her bikini strap marks, and dismissed a third even though he knew she was in the middle of IVF treatment.

Network Rail is alleged to have made 'gagging' payments of up to £950,000 to women abused by Bennett to prevent the cases coming before an Industrial Tribunal. The list of cases is allegedly long. On 4th March Devine told the House
If the company uses public money to ensure that the allegations never see the light of day—that they never reach the public domain—that surely is a matter for the House and for the Minister. My information is that Mr. Peter Bennett, Network Rail's head of human resources, is presiding over a culture of fear and bullying. Long-serving staff are being forced out, but only after they have signed confidentiality clauses that prevent the culture of fear from being exposed in the public domain.
Shitty Vadera, as Brown's aide at the Treasury, claimed that Network Rail would be so complex that "tabloids wouldn't understand it"; it was a smoke and mirrors exercise to keep the organisation's £4bn a year revenue cost and £28bn investment programme away from public scrutiny. And so effective was Brown's obfuscation that his Rail Minister is not able to tell Mr Devine just how much public money is being used to cover-up Bennett's behaviour.

But Bennett, who is paid substantially more than the Prime Minister, doesn't get the chance to buy a round for staff very often, it seems; 'Personal Today' reports that "girls in the department have always said don't mention that we are going out for drinks after work because he will come along. They are uncomfortable around him and they don't want to socialise with him."

Yet this man sits on the ACAS Council.

Can there be any other story that illustrates so well Labour's hypocrisy, sleaze, corruption and jobbery as that of Peter Bennett's rise to success under Gordon Brown?

1 comment:

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

This will be the Network Rail whose new timetable adds 45 minutes to Grand Central Trains' journeys from Sunderland to London because they were competing too effectively with the state-owned East Coast?