Monday, 27 March 2017

Money Down the Drain



Gerard Coyne is a candidate in the election to become general secretary of Unite; his main rival is Len McCluskey a key ally of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

Butt Coyne did his case no harm at all when he called a spade a spade recently in an interview with The Observer when he said:

“The reality is that Unite has put an awful lot of money into funding a leader of the Labour party that seems to be out of step with the industrial policies and needs of our members.” 


Three union bosses played a crucial role in helping Jeremy Corbyn win the Labour crown: Sir Paul Kenny of the GMB, Dave Prentis of Unison and Len McCluskey of Unite.

Sir Paul has since retired, Dave Prentis seems to be stepping up his criticism of the hapless Labour leader, but Len McCluskey has gone quiet all of a sudden.

But there's no doubt that these union bosses have a lot to answer for because they also helped to ensure Ed Miliband's election as well.

   

Coyne Calls Out McCluskey (21/02/17)



Gerard Coyne who is standing for election as Unite's general secretary has called out his rival Len McCluskey whom he describes as a 'greedy boss'.

I couldn't agree more and here's why:
  • Len McCluskey is 66 years go age has lived in and worked in London for the past 26 years, during which time he has been paid a salary worth well over £100,000 a year
  • So why does he need a £400,000 loan from low paid Unite members to help him buy a new luxury flat in central London?
  • spokesperson for McCluskey tries to defend the loan arrangement but the scheme is clearly not available to ordinary Unite members or other less senior union employees 
  • The McCluskey loan is not a common arrangement nor is it one that is widely used by other trade unions, as the McCluskey camp claims
  • McCluskey is not moving and relocating to London to take up his job - instead he has lived the capital city for the past three decades
The whole business stinks to high heaven if you ask me and I take my hat off to Gerard Coyne for drawing attention to this scandalous use of the members' money.

Read the full story via the link below to the Politics Home web site and the piece by Kevin Schofield.

   


Len McCluskey dubbed 'greedy boss' by union rival over £400,000 flat deal

By Kevin Schofield - Politics Home

A union official hoping to topple Len McCluskey as boss of Unite has dubbed his rival a "greedy boss" over a £400,000 deal to help him buy a flat in central London.
Len McCluskey bought a flat in central London last year.
Credit: PA Images

Gerard Coyne launched his outspoken attack on the first anniversary of the "shared ownership" arrangement, which enabled Mr McCluskey to purchase the £700,000 property.

Under the deal, Unite contributed £417,000 to help its general secretary buy the flat near London Bridge last February. Mr McCluskey provided the rest of the money himself.

Len McCluskey in fresh blast at Unite rival Gerard Coyne


Gerard Coyne announces bid to topple Len McCluskey as Unite chief


Len McCluskey slammed for wrongly claiming factory employing Unite workers had closed


EXCL Blow for Len McCluskey as he fails to win backing of key Unite group


Details of the arrangement were revealed by The Guardian in September.

Unite officials insist that such equity share schemes are commonplace, particularly for trade union officials moving to London, that they are properly authorised and generate large profits once the properties are sold.

But in a speech to Michelin works in Stoke-on-Trent, Mr Coyne, who is Unite's regional secretary for the West Midlands, will say the deal should not have been allowed.

"The loan was to help him buy a flat in a very desirable part of central London, a short walk from London Bridge, and close to Borough Market – the sort of place where city bankers enjoy expensive lunches while tourists stroll around stalls that sell artisan bread, organic goats cheese and black pitted olives imported from the rolling hills of Italy," he will say.

"Whilst it is very nice for Len McCluskey to be able to look out of his window on this luxurious panorama, let us just pause to consider the amount of money involved. Put it this way. Most of you, if you are in full time work, will be paying your Unite subscription at the enhanced rate of £3.50 a week.

"Were you to continue to pay that sum unchanged, year in, year out, and live to a very old age, do you know how long it would take you to pay enough to cover Len McCluskey’s loan? The answer is 2,293 years.

LUXURY

"Looking around, I see people in robust good health, but I don’t see anyone here who is likely to live for more than two thousand years. What this means, in other words, is that the subscriptions paid by thousands of Unite members, who may be struggling to make ends meet or may have grown up children still living at home because they have nowhere else to live, have been used to fund Len’s luxury lifestyle.

"And remember, Len didn’t need a loan at all. He could have bought somewhere else in London with his own money. After all he put down nearly £300,000 for his £700,000 flat. It’s only because he wanted to live in such high style that he decided to take another £400,000 from the members.

"Were Unite members asked what they thought about this? No they were not. In fact, at the moment no one knows who in Unite authorised this loan. It wasn’t until six months later, in September, that the executive discussed it. We do not yet know who agreed to give £400,000 of members’ money to Len McCluskey."]

Mr Coyne will add: "Len McCluskey has had not one but three home loans during his time at Unite. Other senior union officials have had similar large benefits. I will end this practice because I don't believe that union bigwigs should get perks that the members who pay our wages don't receive.

"I find it offensive. And to be honest I find it remarkable when I hear Len McCluskey talk about greedy bosses on the TV and radio. The truth is the man who talks about greedy bosses is a greedy boss himself."

The general secretary election was sparked when Mr McCluskey announced he was standing down last month to seek a third term of office.

PROFIT

A spokeswoman for Len McCluskey denied that the arrangement was a loan and accused Mr Coyne of "demeaning the union's democracy".

She said: "This is a shared ownership arrangement. Len McCluskey has not received a loan from the union, the union has invested in property. The property will be sold when Len McCluskey leaves employment and the union will make a profit for its investment. The arrangement is entirely transparent and fully authorised.

"This is a common arrangement used by unions and other organisations to enable officials living outside of London to work there.

"These attacks by Gerard Coyne demean the union’s democracy at a time when the union and its members face so many urgent and serious industrial issues. They are also highly misleading."



Len's Lump Sum Poser (19/02/17)


I'm not a member of the Unite staff pension scheme, but I know how similar union schemes operate and they are all based on the 'final salaries' of their employees.

Now it's been reported in the media previously that Len McCluskey (66) is already drawing his Unite pension because he's beyond the union's normal retirement date of 65 years of age.

So if Len's retirement package has already been triggered, then the normal formula is that he would retire on half salary (assuming he had full service) plus a tax free lump sum worth three times his final year's salary.

Len's salary was reported as being £103,323 a year in 2014 and along with NI contributions, pension and other benefits his total remuneration package came to £140,281per annum.

But even using the lower figure of £103,323 Len's tax free lump sum (from his final salary pension) would be worth an eye watering £310,000 or so - completely tax free.

So why does Len 'need' a £400,000 loan from low paid Unite members to help him buy a swish new pad in London, where he's lived for many years and already has a house over his head? 

I think we should be told.

  


Len's Loan is 'Bollix' (15/01/17)


I noticed from my Twitter feed that Len McCluskey is on the radio today to talk about the Unite leadership election with his main rival Gerard Coyne, another senior union official.

So I sent the interviewers a suggested question for the current Unite boss.

"Please ask Len why aa highly paid union official needs a loan of £400,000 from low paid Unite members, bearing in mind that Len has lived in London for years and at 66 is already beyond the union's normal retirement age?"

I was unable to listen to the radio programmes concerned, but if anyone did and knows whether this question was put to Len McCluskey, I'd be interested to know how his answer.

Because is you ask me, Len's giant loan is a disgrace.

  


Union Puppet Master (14/01/17)



I was puzzled by this piece in The Sunday Herald which reported that an SNP spokesperson, Chris Stephens, is urging party members to vote for Len McCluskey (66) in the Unite leadership contest.

Now I find this surprising because Len McCluskey payed 'Russian roulette' with thousands of jobs at the giant Ineos plant in Grangemouth where the union called a strike in 'defence' of a local union rep who was facing disciplinary procedures for carrying out work for the Labour Party during his employer's time.

The background involved allegations of 'ballot rigging' in the local Falkirk Labour Party constituency where, reportedly, a 'close friend' of McCluskey's (Katie Murphy) was being lined up as the likely Labour candidate in a looming by-election.

As an aside Karie Murphy now works as a key aide in Jeremy Corbyn's office, just so you appreciate how 'incestuous' the world of Labour/union politics can be at times.

Anyway, after calling this kamikaze strike Unite was quickly forced to back down, but  only after McCluskey's personal intervention; incredibly the workforce ended up with worse terms and conditions than they enjoyed before the dispute began.

The Grand Old Duke of York would have been proud, and yet here we have the SNP's trade union spokesperson backing McCluskey with warm words about his alleged understanding of Scottish politics and good relations with the SNP.

Unite has also been useless in the long fight over equal pay which has been raging in Scotland's councils for the past 12 years. In South Lanarkshire, of course, the Labour supporting unions actively discouraged their members from pursuing equal pay claims against the local Labour-run council. 

  

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15009198.SNP_frontbencher_backs_Len_McCluskey_in_Unite_leadership_contest/

SNP frontbencher backs Len McCluskey in Unite leadership contest

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: Len McCluskey, the Assistant General Secretary of the Unite union, announces that a ballot of its members on whether British Airways cabin crew are to take industrial action have voted in favour of doing so on February 22, 2

By Andrew Whitaker - The Sunday Herald

THE SNP's trade union spokesman at Westminster has backed Len McCluskey in the Unite union leadership election because he has “good relations with the SNP” and “understands Scottish politics”.

Chris Stephens said SNP members in Unite should back McCluskey because he is “sympathetic” to a progressive alliance between Nicola Sturgeon's party and Labour to oust the Tory Government.

The plea to SNP members came as McCluskey brought his campaign for the union's leadership to Scotland, where he said he was running on his "record and vision.



Money Down the Drain (02/08/15)Image result for down the drain + images


Trade union members in Scotland will be interested to know that while the fight for equal pay has been in full flow, union bosses have been wasting a small fortune in trying to sell Ed Miliband to the nation.  

In the run up to the recent Westminster election Labour's top three donations were:
  • £3.5 million from Unite
  • £697,000 from the GMB 
  • £572,000 from Unison
Members' money down the drain if you ask me.

Sorry, I haven't a clue (03/01/17)



Question: Why does a highly paid union boss like Len McCluskey need a 'loan' of £400,000 from low paid Unite members to buy a swish new £700,000 pad in London?

Answer: Sorry, I haven't a clue - not least because such loans are normally used to help union officials to relocate from one part of the country to another, whereas Len McCluskey has lived in London for years. 

Len, by the way, is 66 and reportedly is already in receipt of his Unite pension having passed the union's normal retirement age of 65.

  

Curiouser and Curiouser (08/12/16)

Image result for curiouser and curiouser

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that Unite boss Len McCluskey received a string of cheap loans from his own union years before Len received an eye-watering £400,000 in 2016 to help him buy a £700,000 flat in London

I said in an earlier post that the latest loan of £400,000 made no sense because these union schemes are normally aimed at helping employees relocate to another part of the country.

Whereas Len McCluskey has been living and working in London for the past 26 years.

So why does the Unite boss need such a a big hand-up from his own members, especially when his salary package was previously reported at £140,000 a year? 

Who knows what's going on inside Unite these days, but I would take some persuading that this could ever be an appropriate use of the members' money 

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/past-six-days/2016-12-04/news/unite-boss-had-string-of-cheap-union-loans-wv36snwwl

  

Unite boss had string of cheap union loans

By James Lyons and Jon Ungoed-Thomas - The Sunday Times

Len McCluskey is preparing to seek another five-year term as leader - JIM CLARKE

Len McCluskey received three cut-price union home loans before Unite helped him buy a flat in London this year, documents obtained by The Sunday Times reveal.

McCluskey, 66, was given loans totalling more than £110,000 for what appear to be two properties in the same street in Liverpool and another in the capital, according to records from the Transport & General Workers’ Union (TGWU), where he worked before it merged with rival Amicus to form Unite. Details of the arrangements have come to light as the militant union leader, one of Jeremy Corbyn's most powerful allies, is poised to launch a bid for a fresh five-year term as general secretary of Unite this week.

McCluskey was given loans totalling more than £110,000

There were reports of disquiet inside the union after it was revealed that Unite had paid more than £400,000 towards the cost of a £700,000 flat for McCluskey, close to London’s fashionable Borough market, in a joint equity deal earlier this year.

This weekend Unite stressed that home loans and shared equity schemes are “common place” for union officials, especially those who move around the country, and good investments. Those involving McCluskey were properly authorised, the union said.

However, any disquiet is likely to be fuelled by records from the TGWU that show the Borough deal was the fourth time that McCluskey has received such help.

The first loan of £10,250 was made to help him buy a house in the Crosby area of Liverpool, the former dock worker’s home city, a report dating from 1980 shows. He was charged 7.5% interest on the 20-year loan, about half of the Bank of England rate at the time.

The house is now solely owned by Ann McCluskey, his wife, according to records lodged with the Land Registry.
The union leader bought a home in Muswell Hill, north London - FRANCESCO GUIDICINI

McCluskey received another loan, of £5,000 for 18 years and charged at the same interest rate, for a second house in the same street, according to a report from 1981. A decade later he received a £95,000 loan to buy a property in Muswell Hill, a leafy suburb of north London. That loan was made for 19 years and charged at 4.5% interest, again well below the market rate at the time.

McCluskey set up a property management company with a fellow tenant of the block, according to records lodged at Companies House. He resigned as a director of the company in February 2004. A property at the address was sold for £428,000 the next month, according to separate records.

This weekend, a Unite insider suggested there was just one property in Crosby and it had initially been bought by McCluskey in 1976 without union help. Unite said: “The arrangements made by the predecessor union were consistent with support provided to officers across the union, and repaid in the normal way.”
The purchase of this house in Crosby, Merseyside, was helped by a cheap loan - PAUL COOPER

Details of the loans come as Unite’s executive council prepares to gather in London tomorrow. McCluskey is expected to use the meeting, which will last several days, to trigger a battle for control of the union that could decide Labour’s future. Unite has several seats on Labour’s ruling national executive committee, and support from McCluskey — a close friend of senior Corbyn aide Karie Murphy — has helped stop moderates toppling the Labour leader.

Ed Balls has said McCluskey is “not of the Labour Party” and suggested that replacing him could allow a new leader to be put in place before the next general election, due in 2020.

Speaking last week, the former shadow chancellor praised Gerard Coyne, a union moderate who is expected to challenge McCluskey, saying he had done a “really good job” protecting workers’ jobs.

Defeat for McCluskey in a general secretary election would be a “staging post” on a route to giving MPs and unions more of a say over the party’s leadership rules, Balls said.



Doesn't Add Up (24/10/16)


Image result for doesn't add up + images

The Sunday Times shed some further light on the strange property deal involving Unite boss Len McCluskey and over £400,000 of the members' money.

Now as I've said on the blog site previously, this story doesn't really add up because why would someone who  has been living and working in London for 26 years suddenly require such a huge loan?

Not only that, but Len is 66 years old and you would think it's time for him to retire, put his feet up and make way for some new blood at Unite.

Yet there are rumours that he plans to stand for election again which means that he would remain as Unite boss well into his seventies.

 


Unite leader ‘lacked executive backing’ for £400,000 flat deal

By James Lyons - The Sunday Times
Len McCluskey is the registered owner of a flat in a block close to Borough market, south London - JOEL GOODMAN

A property deal that saw the Unite union pay more than £400,000 towards a flat for its general secretary Len McCluskey was not authorised by the executive council (EC) in advance, according to an account of the ruling body’s latest meeting.

When the purchase was revealed last month Unite issued a statement saying the shared equity deal had been completed with the “full authority” of the council.

McCluskey, however, acknowledged that this was a mistake when the council met shortly afterwards, according to unofficial minutes posted on the internet by Unite Now, a moderate faction inside the union.

“He [Len] apologised for the line saying that the EC had authorised this when in fact it should of said [sic] that this was historically the practice for all previous general Secretary’s [sic] and because of personal circumstances, he also needed to do this,” the unofficial minutes said.

“The statement was put together by staff and had Len realised it had said what it did then he would of changed it, he again apologised for any embarrassment caused.”

Last night Unite emphasised that the part-purchase of the £700,000 London property, close to the Thames, had been correctly authorised by the relevant union officers.

“The purchase had the full authority of the union. Consequently Mr McCluskey had not reason to, and of course did not, apologise for any statement that the purchase had the full authority of the union,” Unite said. “The purpose of the executive discussion was to condemn the newspaper coverage of this matter.”

The council “unanimously condemned the media coverage and unanimously offered full support for Mr McCluskey”, the union said in a statement.

“It is ridiculous to imagine that any employee, including the general secretary, would have his or her relationship status as a matter for discussion at our executive council; it was not.”

The flat in south London - TOLGA AKMEN/LNP

An attempt to redact the unofficial minutes has been made on the Unite Now website, but the information was still available last night.

The faction publishes regular accounts of EC meetings. However, tensions inside the union are rising amid expectations among moderates that McCluskey, a militant leftwinger, is gearing up to stand again for another term as general secretary.

McCluskey became the registered owner of the flat, which is near the fashionable Borough food market, in February. Unite paid £417,300 towards the £695,500 purchase price and signed an agreement with McCluskey, which has not been disclosed.

There is no other charge on the property according to the Land Registry, suggesting he did not take out a mortgage to cover his share of the cost.

When the details emerged a month ago, a union insider predicted there would be “much disquiet”. At the time Unite stated that under the shared equity deal the property must be sold within 12 months of McCluskey’s employment ending and Unite will get its 60% stake with a share of any profit.

Howard Beckett, executive director for legal services at Unite, said such agreements are “extraordinarily commonplace”, adding: “Unions have put such measures in place for senior officers for decades.”

Doesn't Add Up (28/09/16)


I said in a recent post that Len McCluskey's £400,000 'loan' from his own union (Unite) raised more questions than answers and it seems I may well be right, if the following entry on Wikipedia is accurate:

"McCluskey was elected as the National Secretary of the TGWU General Workers Group in 1990, and moved to London to work in the union's national headquarters.[1][3] In 2004 he became the TGWU's national organiser for the service industries.[3] In 2007, he was appointed as the Assistant General Secretary for Industrial Strategy of the newly merged Unite the Union.[3]"

Because if Len moved to London in 1990, then why on earth would the Unite boss be seeking a generous 'loan' from his own union all of 26 years later - to help him buy a  new £700,000 house?

Doesn't make any sense at all, if you ask me.

 



  


Union Bosses (09/09/16)


I was rather puzzled by the news reports about Len McCluskey and the Unite boss's £400,000 'loan' from his own union to buy a £700,000 property in London.

Because I was a beneficiary of financial assistance from my union, NUPE (now Unison), when I took up a promoted union post many years ago, but there were rules and conditions attached.

As I recall, the scheme took into account an individuals's financial circumstances and applied in the same way to everyone who qualified - not just the general secretary.

The scheme was not intended to help someone build up a property portfolio by buying a second or third home, for example, so they could be required to sell a property already in their possession.

The scheme was also accessed at the time the person involved took up their new appointment which in Len McCluskey's case was January 2011.

So why is the Unite boss seeking such help more than five years after his election as general secretary and if he was already a senior London-based official, why was financial assistance required in the first place?

The Guardian reports on the breaking story which has more questions than answers at this stage, but the biggest one of all for me is why would an equity share scheme be attractive for Unite?

Especially as such a deal ties up £400,000 chunk of union members' money when no doubt this could be put to much more practical use.

Maybe this arrangement allows Len to live in a £700,000 property while paying for only his minority share of around £270,000 but as the full details of the scheme have yet to be disclosed no one can say for sure, at this stage anyway.    

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/08/unite-union-gave-len-mccluskey-400000-loan-to-buy-london-flat

  

Unite union gave Len McCluskey £400,000 'loan' to buy London flat
Union insider says there will be ‘much disquiet’ over payment of £417,000 for leader’s apartment under equity share deal


 

McCluskey’s flat cost £695,500 in February. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian

By Rajeev Syal - The Guardian

Unite the union has contributed more than £400,000 towards the purchase of a £700,000 central London flat for its leader, Len McCluskey, Land Registry documents show.

McCluskey, who has been described as Labour’s kingmaker, became the owner of the two-bedroom apartment near Borough market just south of the river Thames in February this year.


'I was politicised by the docks': the rise of Len McCluskey

Unite put forward 60% of the cost of the flat – amounting to £417,000 – after signing an agreement with McCluskey.

The disclosure comes at a time when many of Unite’s members are struggling. One union insider said there would be “much disquiet” over the arrangement.

The union said the purchase agreement was not a loan but an equity share arrangement. It added that this type of equitable agreement was commonly used to help general secretaries buy homes in London and insisted the agreement would raise more money for its members when the property was eventually sold.