An alleged ex-employee of Three Rivers District Waste Depot, which is run by Three Rivers District Council (TRDC), has blown the whistle on the depot, with a catalogue of shocking allegations about the way in which staff on the ground are treated by management.
The employee attests to a systemic culture of corruption, bullying, harassment, ridicule, hypocrisy, nepotism, physical violence, and theft of council property.
Perhaps the most horrifying of all is the allegations of racial attacks, including screwdrivers being stabbed into the leg of a black employee and then covered up by management.
Employees are said to have been “mercilessly ridiculed” by management for not being sufficiently “manly” while female applicants have been discriminated against and not offered jobs.
The whistleblower claims that corruption is rife including former drivers using council refuse lorries for private work and paying a manager to “turn a blind eye”; managers filling up private cars with fuel from the tank in the yard during the fuel crisis; and valuable items taken away from house clearances and sold with subsequent funds pocketed by management.
Outbreaks of physical violence are said to be swept under the carpet by management who are incapable of managing staff or dealing with conflict without themselves resorting to violence.
It is alleged that employees are frequently the subject of humiliation, bullying, harassment and ridicule by management which has led to such a deterioration in mental health that at least two members of staff have attempted suicide.
Employees are said to be threatened with dismissal or disciplinaries for the most minor of infringements such as swearing or grazing a post at 2mph which has added to undue stress and anxiety.
During the pandemic, staff are said to have been paid a mere £300 in bonuses which is not commensurate with other councils who paid £1,000 to thank workers for loyalty.
After the pandemic, TRDC were given gifts from the Grove, nights at the hotel, rounds of golf, dinner for four plus other gift along with crates of beer and chocolates to be raffled off to all staff at Three Rivers. The employee claims that all the prizes for the Grove were won by office staff and that not one member of ground staff “won” a top prize.
They stated: “This act of fixing a simple raffle that was meant to boost people’s morale did the exact opposite, as was the intention from depot management.”
The whistleblower spoke of an audit carried out on the depot in which more than 25 discrepancies and failures were found. The employee alleges that some of them amounted to serious breaches of the law and health and safety practices.
The whistleblower claims the lorries are not fit for purpose and have cracked tachometer seals causing serious hydraulic leaks. It is argued that “zero training” is given to new pass drivers and there is “zero health and safety” when it comes to the use of HGVs which are fraught with risk.
A new head of waste services is said to have tried to prevent employees he didn’t want at the depot from getting jobs at other waste services by blacklisting them with temp agencies. The whistle-blower alleges that this same individual was recently heard expressing his plan to withdraw water and suncream provided to refuse staff on hot days.
It’s not just the staff whom the whistleblower says have been subjected to abuse and mistreatment but the environment too. The employee says that he and others have witnessed, on many occasions, the dumping of engine oil, coolant, brake oil and hydraulic oil onto the ground, without collection pans or bottles in place. This allegedly led to serious contamination leaking into the river and nearby canal system.
A MyLocalNews photographer experienced the unsettling environment firsthand when on-site, as she was subject to a torrent of verbal abuse, and was deliberately misdirected and followed by a staff member.
A TRDC spokesperson said: “The council is aware of these allegations by a former employee and is investigating the matter. All complaints and allegations are taken seriously.”