CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Secret tape reveals racist tirade suffered by rubbish truck driver

Veolia investigate after whistleblower taped 35 minutes of abuse from colleague while on bin round

16 February, 2017 — By Tom Foot

A WHISTLEBLOWER endured a sickening tirade of racist abuse after raising concerns about colleagues with managers, secret tapes have revealed.

The target of the abuse, a Veolia rubbish truck driver, recorded the 35-minute verbal assault on his phone.

The onslaught was directed at the Polish worker by a colleague during a bin round in Camden.

He was told he was a “rotten stinking coward” who “couldn’t fight in a ****ing war like in 1939”, and that he was a “Muslim lover” who would “like all those Christians being killed in Berlin”, a reference to the recent Christmas market terrorist attack in Germany.

Veolia, which has recently won a massive contract with Camden Council, confirmed it had taken the incident “extremely seriously” after the recording was brought to a manager’s attention on December 28 last year. The member of staff had been dismissed in mid-January, a spokeswoman for the company added.

Camden GMB union rep Dennis McNulty said: “This is appalling. None of this should be tolerated by a company like Veolia.”

The worker is not Muslim but is believed to have objected to earlier racist comments he heard on the fleet’s internal radio system. The GMB and the man attended a police station yesterday to report further allegations that his vehicle’s safety clips had been tampered with, allegedly in revenge for speaking out.

Mr McNulty said yesterday: “What’s next – his brakes?”

In the recording, the man is mocked for “welling up” as he is told: “You would turn your back on your comrades in a war, like you do with your work colleagues… Stop taping conversations and getting people in s***. Be a man, for once in your life… You put people in the s*** to save your own job.”

In the recording, the man dishing out the abuse says he is aware he is being recorded. He adds: “Polish people are supposed to be big and tough, as a lot of them were in the Second World War… But what kind of man are you?”

The New Journal understands the driver had raised concerns with managers about employees mocking him and other staff over the radio in similar comments over the last two years.

The driver, who has been signed off sick from work by a doctor, contacted the union about the recording, after approaching managers at Veolia in December.

Veolia’s multi-million pound, 16-year contract with Camden Council covers household recycling, food waste, garden waste and residual waste, as well as commercial waste, street cleaning and gritting. It aims to save the council around £5million a year.

Among changes being introduced in April are a switch to fortnightly bin collections for 30 per cent of Camden homes.

Despite repeated assurances that no staff would lose their jobs, bosses at the firm were holding talks with staff this week, according to the union. Insiders said foremen were being asked to apply for new supervisor roles, and that some hours are being downgraded from 39 to 37.5 a week.

A Veolia spokesperson said: “Veolia does not condone racism and takes an incident of this type extremely seriously. This incident took place on December 24, 2016 and was brought to the attention of management on December 28, 2016.  The individual was managed within our company’s policies and procedures without delay, and following an investigation resulted in a dismissal in mid January 2017.”

Meanwhile, accusations of racist discrimination at the Town Hall were made this week when a Muslim woman opened her case at a five-day employment tribunal. The clerical worker said she was called a “raghead”, a claim which has been rejected by Camden’s legal team.

Residents will have the chance to raise concerns about bin collections with Camden’s head of environment services, Richard Bradbury, on Monday. A public meeting organised by West Hampstead Amenity and Transport starts at 8pm in West Hampstead Library.

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