Saturday, 18 March 2017

Team Corbyn

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Ian Lavery is a big Jeremy Corbyn supporter who was promoted to the role of election coordinator recently after yet another shadow cabinet reshuffle that was forced upon the Labour leader because the vast majority of MPs have no confidence in him.

The standards watchdog at Westminster has required Ian Lavery to apologise to the House of Commons over his failure to disclose benefits from his previous employment as general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for the Northumberland area from 1992 until 2010.

But the real story is that Ian Lavery received £140,000 in redundancy payments even though he resigned from this job to take up a more lucrative position as a Labour MP.

On top of that Ian Lavery received a cheap mortgage from the NUM which by that time had a tiny membership and even more incredibly this subsidised mortgage was mysteriously written off.

Read the reports below from the Politics Home web site and the BBC, but if you ask me there are remarkable similarities between Ian Lavery and Len McLuskey, another big Corbyn fan who regards himself as a left-wing socialist.

  

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/government-and-public-sector/news/84311/labour-mp-ian-lavery-cleared-wrongdoing-over?

Labour MP Ian Lavery cleared of wrongdoing over subsidised mortgage

By Sebastian Whale - Politics Home


Labour MP Ian Lavery has been cleared by the parliamentary watchdog over allegations he failed to register benefits received from his previous union employer.

Ian Lavery at the 2016 Labour party conference - Credit: PA Images

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards refused to uphold claims by Tory MP Paul Scully that Mr Lavery should have published redundancy payments and the terms of a mortgage on his property.

But the probe did find two instances where the shadow Cabinet Office minister breached the MPs’ code of conduct by failing to declare a relevant interest.

Mr Lavery has agreed to make an apology to the House of Commons for the breaches, which the commissioner said would be an “appropriate outcome” following the investigation.

The Labour frontbencher was general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for the Northumberland area from 1992 until 2010, when he stood down and was elected MP for Wansbeck.

According to documents seen by BBC Newsnight last year, Mr Lavery received a £72,500 mortgage in 1994 from the union's benevolent fund, repayable at less than half the market interest rate.

He also allegedly received around £140,000 in redundancy payments from the union.

The Standards commissioner found that Parliament’s rules in 2010 had not been “sufficiently explicit” for Mr Lavery’s failure to register the redundancy payments to constitute a breach.

Mr Lavery received redundancy payments in instalments until May 2013.
Further, the probe found that Mr Lavery’s mortgage had terminated three years before he became an MP so it was not considered a registrable benefit.

But elsewhere in the investigation, the commissioner considered whether Mr Lavery should have noted in the Register of Members’ Interests that the NUM had held a 15% of share in his property until May 2013.

The commissioner concluded that under the circumstances it was a registrable benefit under the Miscellaneous Category.

It also found that Mr Lavery should have declared a relevant interest when tabling a Written Question in March 2013 about the future of the deep-mine industry.

“Mr Lavery has acknowledged his two breaches of the rules and of the Code of Conduct, and he has agreed to make an apology to the House for them,” the commissioner wrote.

“Subject to him doing so, I consider that to be an appropriate outcome and have concluded my inquiry under the rectification procedure.”
Mr Lavery denied any wrongdoing when the allegations surfaced in April 2016.
Labour MP Ian Lavery denies wrongdoing over NUM mortgage
By John Sweeney & Ed Brown - BBC Newsnight

BBC UK Politics

Image copyright - LABOUR PARTY

Labour's trade union spokesman Ian Lavery has denied any wrongdoing after BBC Newsnight learned he received a heavily subsidised mortgage.

The mortgage was from the benevolent fund of the National Union of Mineworkers in Northumberland.

Mr Lavery was the general secretary of that union from 1992 to 2010, and also faces questions about redundancy money he received when he left.

He says the mortgage was a "private" matter and denies any impropriety.

In total Ian Lavery faces questions about £250,000 of payments the union's books suggest he received from the NUM, Northumberland Area during his period there.

Newsnight has established that Mr Lavery received a £72,500 mortgage in 1994 from the union's benevolent fund repayable at less than half the market interest rate.

On Tuesday, he refused to comment on whether the outstanding mortgage had subsequently been written off by the union. "The union and myself came to a financial agreement in 2007 with regards to the mortgage which will remain private between myself and the union."

Mr Lavery stepped down as general secretary of the Northumberland Area in 2010, taking over from Denis Murphy as MP for Wansbeck. Mr Murphy took over the running of the union which now has just six members.

During Mr Lavery's tenure as general secretary, more than half of the union's £2.5m income came from sick former miners who the Union helped with compensation claims and who donated a portion of their payments to the union.

Mr Lavery has already faced questions from the Sunday Times about what appear to be more than £140,000 of redundancy payments to him, as well as about why he received a mortgage from union funds.

He has been referred to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner by a Tory MP for alleged impropriety over his redundancy.

Newsnight has established that the "sweetheart" interest rate on the mortgage provided by the union's Provident and Benevolent fund - just 3% compared to market rates of around 8% - would have saved Mr Lavery thousands of pounds in interest payments over the life of the mortgage.

However, Newsnight has also identified a sum of £109,911 written off in the union's books in 2007. This is almost exactly the figure Mr Lavery would have owed on the £72,500 mortgage if he had made no, or very low, payments over the 13-year period. 

Image copyrightPAImage captionEllington Colliery in Northumberland just before it closed in 2005

On Tuesday he refused to say whether any of the mortgage had been written off insisting he had absented himself from any discussions regarding the mortgage and behaved in a proper manner throughout.

He said: "The NUMNA accounts were professionally audited and accepted by the Certification Officer on an annual basis," adding, "I refute any allegations of financial irregularities."

A second puzzle relates to Mr Lavery's redundancy. He acknowledges he received £62,000 in redundancy payments but insists he doesn't recognise a second payment of £85,426, logged on the union's books in 2013.

He said: "The £85,000 which you keep referring to as a mystery payment, that is something that the accountants will have come up with. I'll tell you three times, four times, five times, I don't recognise that payment."

But the payment is recorded in 2013 as "past general secretary redundancy costs". Mr Lavery started at NUMNA in 1992. His successor, Denis Murphy, took over in 2010 so the phrase "past general secretary redundancy costs" appears, on the face of it, to apply to Mr Lavery. 

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Britain's wealth was, once, powered by coal - but miners paid a heavy price in ill-health. The government set up a compensation fund for miners suffering lung disease and other illnesses which has paid out more than £4 billion.

Mr Lavery, a former miner himself, is proud of his union's success at winning compensation for its members. On their compensation forms, miners could tick a box to gift a fraction of their money to the union.

The last pit in Northumberland closed in 2005 and it now boasts just six members but gifts to the compensation fund kept the union afloat. Donations from former miners amounted to more than £1.6m over the period of Mr Lavery's tenure.

In response to Newsnight's story, Mr Lavery issued the following written statement: "For the record, I am immensely proud of the fact that the National Union of Mineworkers (Northumberland Area) were able to gain rightful compensation for tens of thousands of miners, former miners and their families.

"The government and the industry were vehemently opposed to paying compensation for industrial diseases but the National Union of Mineworkers were ultimately successful. Thousands of miners received the compensation they deserved because of the time, effort and commitment of the NUM and its officials, who brought test cases that were opposed at every turn.

"It is estimated that more than £4 billion nationally - and tens of millions of pounds in Northumberland alone - was paid out in the form damages for those who had worked in the coal industry.

"I am incredibly proud of the role I played in achieving this on behalf of former miners who would have been left high and dry without the work the NUM carried out on their behalf. I simply refute out of hand any suggestion of financial impropriety."

Len Has No Answers (22/02/17)


According to the report below from Politics Home Len McCluskey is complaining at being called out over his £400,000 loan from Unite members to help his buy a swish new pad in central London.

Now relocation schemes for employees moving to London are commonplace, of course, but Len has worked and lived in the capital for 26 years and as Gerard Coyne fairly points out:

"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."

Good for Gerard Coyne and doesn't McCluskey sound just like Jeremy Corbyn with his terrible whining about the 'right-wing' media.

   

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/work/trade-unions/news/83539/len-mccluskey-accuses-unite-rival-smears-and-lies-general?

Len McCluskey accuses Unite rival of 'smears and lies' in general secretary election

By Kevin Schofield - Politics Home

Len McCluskey will today accuse his Unite leadership rival of peddling "smears and outright lies" in the increasingly ill-tempered election campaign.
Len McCluskey is aiming for a third term as Unite general secretary.
Credit: PA Images

The veteran left-winger will also say Gerard Coyne has been "skulking behind slurs and using the right wing media to demean our union" ahead of the crunch vote.

Mr McCluskey's outspoken comments come just days after Mr Coyne dubbed him a "greedy boss"over a £400,000 deal to help him buy a flat in central London.

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


Len McCluskey in fresh blast at Unite rival Gerard Coyne


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


Momentum urge members to join Unite to vote for Len McCluskey


The "shared ownership" arrangement with Unite enabled Mr McCluskey to purchase the £700,000 property in a fashionable part of central London last year.

But Mr McCluskey - who is seeking his third term as the union's boss - will hit back in a speech to supporters in the West Midlands, where Mr Coyne is Unite's regional secretary.

He will say: "I am incredibly proud to have received the nominations of so many branches in the West Midlands, and over 1,000 Unite branches across the UK representing members working in all sectors of the economy.

"It is the best validation from members, because it demonstrates they approve of what I am doing for Unite and want the union to carry on in this vein – proud, democratic and independent of outside interference.

"Members and the reps working hard on their behalf, day in and day out, don’t recognise the smears and outright lies that my opponent Gerard Coyne is peddling.

"My support reflects that they want a general secretary leading from the front on the issues that matter to them, not skulking behind slurs and using the right wing media to demean our union."

Unite insist that equity share schemes like the one they agreed with Mr McCluskey over his flat 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 Mr Coyne said: "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."

A spokesman for Mr McCluskey 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."

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