Thursday, 22 June 2017

An Injustice To All

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Politics Home reports on the sacking of the senior Unite official, Gerard Coyne, who was initially suspended and then dismissed after challenging Len McCluskey, the sitting incumbent, for the union's top job as general secretary.

Commenting on his own dismissal Mr Coyne said:

"The disciplinary hearing was nothing more than a show trial and the irony not lost on me that Mr McCluskey’s chief of staff, Andrew Murray - a self-confessed admirer of Joseph Stalin - was the investigator and decision maker on the charge I was dismissed for."

Now I have to say I cannot see how a 'fair procedure' could possibly have been followed if the person carrying out the investigation was the same person who took the decision to sack Gerard Coyne.

Because any trade union representative worth their salt would insist on a separation of these two roles - otherwise the Investigating Officer and Decision Maker becomes both  judge and jury in their own cause. 

The other issue worth pointing out is that none of the charges against Mr Coyne related to his day job as Unite's regional secretary ion the West Midlands - they were all concerned with his conduct during the election campaign to become Unite's general secretary.

Apparently 6 out of the 7 disciplinary charges were dropped which speaks volumes about the quality of the investigation, I would say, and the 'data breach' for which Mr Coyne was sacked was also investigated by the Electoral Reform Society which found there was no breach of the rules, according to Mr Coyne.

So to sack someone with 28 years of distinguished service (why else was Coyne promoted to the ranks of Unite regional secretary?) seems not just harsh, but miles over the top if you ask me.

In which case the only credible explanation for Coyne's dismissal is his criticism of Len  McCluskey's during the general secretary election campaign and perhaps his attack on the Unite 'boss' over his mammoth £400,000 loan to help him buy a £700,000 flat in London.

But Coyne's criticisms were perfectly justified, of course, because Len McCluskey has lived and worked in London for over 25 years and he had no entitlement to help with yet another house purchase or relocation expenses, as these benefits are always reserved for union employees having to move from one part of the country to another.

'An injustice to one is an injustice to all' - as they say, so it will be interesting to see how the Labour and Trade Union movement responds.


By Kevin Schofield - Politics Home

The Unite official who tried to topple general secretary Len McCluskey has been sacked by the union.

Gerard Coyne says he has been the victim of a 'kangaroo court' - Credit: PA Images

Gerard Coyne was dumped as Unite's regional secretary for the West Midlands following a disciplinary hearing.

He was suspended from the post in March, just hours after polls closed in the bitterly-fought general secretary election, which Mr McCluskey won by less than 6,000 votes.

Gerard Coyne considers legal challenge to Len McCluskey's Unite victory

Len McCluskey rival Gerard Coyne suspended by Unite after polls close in general secretary election

Former union bosses back Gerard Coyne over Len McCluskey in Unite contest

In a statement, Mr Coyne said he was "deeply disappointed but not surprised" by his dismissal, and vowed to appeal against the decision.

He said: "When you are in a kangaroo court, you are rarely surprised by the outcome.

"I have held the post for 16 years and no complaint was raised during the hearing about how I carried out that role. However, during the disciplinary process I was informed that union rules require a regional secretary to be "the general secretary’s representative in the region".

"It was implied that because of the way I criticised Len McCluskey during the campaign I could not fulfil that role any longer."

Mr Coyne said the seven charges originally made against him "consisted of such heinous crimes as publicly criticising and challenging Mr McCluskey’s decisions in leaflets, newspapers and social media".

Six of the charges were eventually dropped, according to Mr Coyne, but he was found guilty of a data breach during the general secretary election campaign.

He added: "This preposterous trumped up charge has been used to indict me - even though the returning officer from Electoral Reform Services had already ruled that there was no breach of the rules.

"It was always clear to me that the charges were nothing more than a stitch-up. My real ‘crime’ was having the audacity to challenge Mr McCluskey in the General Secretary election that he called unnecessarily.

"The disciplinary hearing was nothing more than a show trial and the irony not lost on me that Mr McCluskey’s chief of staff, Andrew Murray - a self-confessed admirer of Joseph Stalin - was the investigator and decision maker on the charge I was dismissed for.

"It is beyond parody that I, as a 30-year member of the Labour Party, should be accused of harming Unite-Labour relations by Mr Murray, a member of the Communist Party for 40 years.

"It is a public warning to any member of Unite’s staff who is thinking of challenging the way the McCluskey gang run the union: ‘step out of line, and you will be out of a job’. Political dissent is not tolerated inside Unite."

Mr Coyne said he would not be "bullied into silence" and vowed to continue with his bid to have the election re-run.

A Unite spokesman said: “The decision is subject to a right of appeal to Unite’s executive council, and the union will be offering no further comment on the matter.”

During the general secretary election campaign, Mr Coyne accused Mr McCluskey of being Jeremy Corbyn’s “puppet master”, while the Unite boss called his rival a front man for a “cabal” of MPs hostile to the Labour leader.

Mr Coyne also questioned a deal Mr McCluskey struck with Unite to help him buy a £700,000 flat in central London. Under the arrangement, Unite contributed £417,000 to the cost of the flat near London Bridge, and the union leader provided the rest of the money himself.

Unite insisted there was nothing untoward about the arrangement, claiming it was common among union leaders forced to base themselves in London.

Punishment Sacking (21/06/17)

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The news that Unite have sacked the senior official who challenged Len McCluskey for the leadership of the giant Labour supporting union comes as a big shock even though Gerard's Coyne's suspension suggested that his 'punishment beating' would not end well 

If you ask me, Unite is behaving like the worst kind of rogue employer by sacking someone  who was a thorn in the side of Len McCluskey and the current union leadership - not unlike Jeremy Corbyn's relationship with the Labour Party over the years it has to be said.

Curiously, Private Eye magazine recently reported that the case against Gerard Coyne was presented by Andrew Murray, a key ally of Len McCluskey, who was released from his Unite union duties to help run Jeremy Corbyn's office during the recent general election campaign.

I'll have more to say on this subject later, but in the meantime here are two posts from the blog site archive which report on the sacking of a Unison official (Ken Seaward) for taking a stand over equal pay, although this outrageous decision I'm pleased to say was overturned on appeal.

The big question now is will Jeremy Corbyn and the TUC stand up to this kind of blatant victimisation within the trade union movement - or will they quietly look the other way? 


Union Fires Official for Taking Side of Low Paid Women (17/09/09)

A number of readers have been in touch about the recent post on Unison – see post dated 24 August 2009.

Here’s a selection of the comments I've received:


“I was a union steward for years. In my experience a full-time official would have to murder someone to get the sack - and even then they’d get their job back on appeal. Sounds like a right proper stitch-up.”


“Normally a complaint form an employer would be taken as a sign that a union official was doing their job and standing up for the members. How can that be grounds to sack someone?”


“I’ve known Ken Seaward for a long time. Had my differences with him for sure, but no one deserves to be sacked like that, not after 28 years service. It’s a disgrace.” 

Union Fires Official for Taking Side of Low Paid Women (24/08/09)

Another fascinating article appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Herald – here are the key details of the piece - written by Paul Hutcheon.

Union Fires Official for Taking Side of Low Paid Women 

A veteran trade union negotiator has been sacked in the middle of a multi-million pound dispute over equal pay. 

Ken Seaward, a Unison regional organiser, was dismissed by his union after a fall-out over how to handle the thousands of pay claims made by low paid women.

The 59-year old, who was fired for alleged misconduct, is understood to be a staunch critic of Unison urging its members to settle for a figure that protects councils from having to cut their budgets.

Female workers are currently pursuing equal pay claims. It is estimated that around 35,000 cases have been lodged with employment tribunals.

However, it is understood that tensions exists within Unison on how to approach equal pay claims.

Senior union officials have in the past urged female members to sign “compromise” deals with councils.

Other union figures believe the women should hold out for the full amount to which they are legally entitled.

Seaward, the Unison official in charge of negotiating with Midlothian Council, is said to be in the latter camp.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that the official, who has 29 years’ service, has been sacked for alleged misconduct and bringing Unison into disrepute.

Seaward was dismissed after his union upheld complaints made by Midlothian Council – and he is expected to appeal the decision.

Eddy Coulson, a former Unison regional organiser, said: “What Unison have done to Ken is bang out of order. This is all a question of Unison not wanting to upset the established order.”

Another senior trade unionist said: “There is definitely a split within the unions, which are male dominated, on how to deal with equal pay. There are tensions between and within the unions.”

It is also understood that some Unison members believe the union’s hierarchy is too close to the Labour Party and to local authorities.

Unison advised its female members in Glasgow to sign a “compromise” agreement in 2005, an approach opposed by some of the union’s members.

David O’Connor, while a branch secretary at Unison said: “We have approached pragmatically the issue of what can be afforded by councils without job losses and loss of services.”

Since the Glasgow deal was struck, Unison has been the subject of legal action by former members unhappy at the agreement the union advised them to sign.

A Unison spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual disciplinary cases, particularly while they are still in process.”

Seaward declined to comment.

The article speaks for itself and paints a sorry picture of the union - but we'll be happy to publish readers' comments - without attributing any names, of course, given how nasty and vindictive some people can be.

Union Victimisation (03/06/17)

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While the Labour party and trade union movement look the other way, Private Eye exposes the punishment beating that is being handed out to Gerard Coyne for daring to challenge Len McCluskey for the leadership of Unite.

I didn't realise until I read the Private Eye piece that the person behind Gerard Coyne's suspension was none other than Andrew Murray, a key ally of Len McCluskey and a political soulmate of Seumas Milne who is working in Jeremy Corbyn's office during the general election campaign.

Now these leftist ideologues bang on about workers' rights on a regular basis, as if they know what they are talking about, yet Coyne has been suspended on trumped-up charges of 'bringing Unite into disrepute' which come down to criticising the behaviour of his boss.  

The fact is that Coyne's comments were made during the sound and fury of an election campaign - they don't relate directly to his day job as a senior Unite official and so do not provide any valid grounds for his suspension.

In truth Unite is behaving like a rogue employer by using its administrative powers to isolate someone who is proving troublesome to the union leadership and they are quite prepared to squander the members' money to get their way: Coyne remains on full pay while his show trial is being organised by McCluskey supporters.

None of this would stand up in an employment court of course, but if Coyne were to claim constructive dismissal Unite would happily keep him suspended while the judicial process took many months to resolve. 

Jeremy Corbyn likes to give the impression that he wouldn't hurt a fly, yet he is surrounded by some very ugly people who are quite prepared to victimise people -  including fellow trade unionists and Labour party members - to achieve their own political ends.  


The Marxist leadership of Unite won't say why it is threatening to purge Gereard Coyne after he dared to stand against Len McCluskey in the contest to become the union's general secretary.

The Eye can reveal what anyone who hans around the far left may have guessed: it's about Jews.

When the campaign was at its height in April, Coyne condemned Labour for failing to expel Ken Livingstone. Red Ken's insistence that Hitler was a Zionist "was an affront to the six million Jews in the Holocaust", Coyne told BBC1's Question Time. As Diane Abbott scowled at him, Coyne added: "In the Labour party and the Labour movement there is an issue about anitisemitism."

He learned of it first hand when he gave an interview to a Jewish newspaper and received antisemitic hate mail. Asked later about the behaviour of Russell Cartwright and Brenda Warrington, Unite'e members on Labour's disciplinary panel, Coyne said: "I am ashamed that representatives of my union were allegedly arguing against having any hearing at all."

That was enough for Unite's political officer, Andrew Murray, who suspended Coyne.The private charges accuse him of brining the union into disrepute for suggesting that Cartwright and Warrington participated in a whitewash. For good measure, Murray also said Coyne's decision to tell Unite members that McCluskey had taken £400,000 of their money to help him buy a flat in London's Borough Market was also a disciplinary matter. (The Eye understands that a Coyne leaflet showing Moneybags McCluskey giving his members the finger has caused particular offence.)

Murray was all set to proceed when Jeremy Corbyn's aide Seems Milne called him in to help run Labour's general election campaign. Murray was a natural recruit to the new-look Labour party. He served on the executive of the Communist Party of Britain and of Corbyn's Stop the war coalition. He praised North Korea as "People's Korea" and said that although Stalin imposed some "harsh measures, we are all Stalinists" in the fight against imperialism.

Like Milne. Murray was a member of "Straight Left', an obscure pro-Soviet "tank" faction formed in the late 1970s to argue against the Communist party accepting democracy and abandoning its support for dictatorships. Also like Milne, Murray is well bred (see below) - but will his noble breeding be enough to keep him from putting Coyne on the dole?


Stifling Dissent  (02/06/17)

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I've been having an exchange of views on Twitter about the suspension of the Unite official Gerard Coyne in the wake of his leadership battle with the incumbent union general secretary, Len McCluskey. 

Now I think it's fair to summarise the position of McCluskey supporters who support Coyne's suspension by saying that they regard his criticism (during the election campaign) of Unite's direction and performance, in recent years, as an unfair attack upon the union itself.

One person went so far as to suggest that Gerard Coyne was abusing his position as a senior official in Unite (a regional secretary) and that while a 'lay member' was quite entitled to be critical of the union leadership, somehow Coyne owed a duty of loyalty to McCluskey and Unite's national committees.

I have to say I find that an extraordinary argument.

Because it introduces a double standard by tying the hands of anyone who wants to fight for the top job from within Unite's existing ranks - leaving any challenger wide open to punishment and victimisation, if they dare criticise the union's ruling elite or its incumbent leader. 

Yet that's the standard that Gerard Coyne is being held to for speaking his mind and highlighting what many people regard as an abuse of power by McCluskey accepting a £400,000 'loan' which is normally used for relocation purposes - whereas Len McCluskey has lived and worked in London for over 25 years.

So it's completely mad if you ask me, against every tenet of natural justice - and the opposite of what modern trade unionism should stand for.


Union Bullies (25/04/17)

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In the run up to the Scottish TUC in Glasgow in 1999 I was told that I was about to be suspended from my job as Unison's Head of Local Government in Scotland.

The people who alerted me to this threat were members of the 'press pack' in Scotland who regularly attend such events. 

My press contacts told me that I was about to be suspended for 'bringing Unison into disrepute' having days earlier resigned my membership of the Labour Party over its policy on PFI (Private Finance Initiative).

My resignation had attracted some coverage in the Scottish media because almost every senior union official in the land (at that time) was a card carrying Labour Party member, and even though my public comments were made in a personal capacity my resignation was perceived by some of my more tribal colleagues as both treacherous and disloyal.

In any event, I quickly decided not to be pushed around and so let it be known that if I were to be suspended in this way, I would respond by challenging the cowards and bullies inside the union who were briefing against me anonymously.

First of all, by holding a press conference to explore the issue of exactly whose behaviour was allegedly bringing the union into disrepute and, secondly, by 'suing' my union employer for constructive dismissal if necessary, over what I regarded as an outrageous attack on my right to freedom of speech.

As things turned out, those responsible backed off and I lived to fight another day although it's fair to say that these unpleasant events did mark the beginning of the end of my 20-year unblemished trade union career, albeit months later and on agreed terms which I negotiated myself. 

So I have considerable empathy with Gerard Coyne who, if you ask me, is now being bullied for daring to challenge Len McCluskey for the leadership of Unite and it seems unarguable to me that Coyne has been suspended, by tribal elements in the union, for the 'crime' of speaking up and telling the truth as he sees it.

Which is hugely ironic of course given the history, origins and proclaimed values of the labour movement.   


Speaking Truth to Power (21/04/17)

PoliticsHome reports on a strange turn in the election to become the next general secretary of Unite with the suspension of Gerard Coyne, just hours after the polls closed.

Could Coyne's suspension be connected with his criticism of Len McCluskey over his rival's 'deal' with Unite to buy a £700,000 luxury apartment in London?

If so, I can't se how the suspension will stand up to scrutiny because such deals are not commonplace and are intended to help union staff relocate from one part of the country to another.

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

Len McCluskey rival Gerard Coyne suspended by Unite after polls close in general secretary election

By Kevin Schofield - Politics Home

Unite have suspended Gerard Coyne, the senior official challenging Len McCluskey to be general secretary of the giant union.

Gerard Coyne has been suspended by Unite. - Credit: PA Images

The dramatic move came just hours after polls closed in the bitterly-contested vote, and amid speculation that the result is “incredibly close”.

Mr Coyne was Unite's regional secretary in the West Midlands, but had to stand down from the role when he launched his bid to replace Mr McCluskey as the union's boss.

Len McCluskey: 'Cabal' of Labour MPs using Unite election to attack Jeremy Corbyn

Former union bosses back Gerard Coyne over Len McCluskey in Unite contest

Unite hopeful dubs Jeremy Corbyn and Len McCluskey 'yesterday's men' as ballots go out

Voting closed in the election at 5pm yesterday, and counting is set to get underway tomorrow.

His temporary replacement, Des Quinn, emailed Unite officials in West Midlands this morning to tell them that disciplinary action had been taken against Mr Coyne.

A spokesman for Mr Coyne said: “The email said Gerard had been suspended from his duties. We don't know why at this stage and we won't be commenting further.”

But a senior source in the Coyne campaign told PoliticsHome that the suspension could be connected to the attacks he made on Mr McCluskey – who is seeking a third term as Unite general secretary – during the campaign.

They included questions about a deal Mr McCluskey struck with Unite to help him buy a £700,000 flat in central London.

Under the arrangement, Unite contributed £417,000 to the cost of the flat near London Bridge. Mr McCluskey provided the rest of the money himself.

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.

PoliticsHome has learned that turnout in the Unite election could be as low as 12%. The result is set to be announced next week.

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.


"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.


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.

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)

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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


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.


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.