We warned earlier in the week that there were likely to be more scandals forthcoming from Unite:
“Whatever they touch becomes engulfed in scandal, factionalism and undue political influence…”
Lo and behold, today’s Daily Mail reports on the activities of Len McCluskey’s “Leverage Squad”, whose job it seems includes intimidating managers at companies involved in industrial disputes with the union
“One director last night said he had feared for the safety of his wife and his two young children after 30 Unite protesters descended on his drive during the school holidays. Police were called after the group approached his neighbours, telling them he was ‘evil’ in an apparent attempt to coerce him into giving in to their demands.”
“The daughter of another company boss had ‘Wanted’ posters denouncing her father posted through her front door hundreds of miles away in Hampshire. The union agreed to call off the Leverage team only as part of the settlement of the dispute.”
Perhaps we should not be surprised at such thuggish behaviour from Len McCluskey’s followers, but it is still shocking to see tactics which most people had thought died out in the 1980s brought back from the grave.
This is intimidation, pure and simple – for all their hot air about wanting to get round the table for talks, Unite evidently feel more comfortable scaring people’s families with mobs outside their houses.
“We know where you live” is the oldest line in the book, and the connotations it carries are clear.
The Prime Minister refers to the local Unite boss Stevie Deans as “a rogue trade unionist”, but that is to underestimate the problem here. Deans is not rogue – he is fully endorsed by Unite, from Len McCluskey down.
Here’s Red Len in the Guardian earlier this week, denouncing a “witch hunt” and defending Deans:
“Stevie’s crimes appear to have been twofold. He looked after the workers at Grangemouth – all too effectively for some people’s tastes. And he took on vested interests in the political field too, trying to involve more ordinary people in democratic life.”
So Unite’s General Secretary is standing by his man. The intimidation of Ineos managers was worthwhile and effective. The fixing of the Falkirk Labour candidate selection was an admirable campaign for democracy. This isn’t a “rogue trade unionist”, this is a henchman doing his boss’s bidding.
It is increasingly clear that Unite is an entirely rotten institution: its members’ interests are betrayed by McCluskey and his thugs; honest people and their families are intimidated simply for doing their jobs; democracy is under threat from co-ordinated campaigns of dodgy dealing.
Such tactics – and the people who pursue them – should be completely unacceptable in public life.
Decent trade unionists are losing patience with this blemish on their movement – when will Miliband act to stop the contamination infecting his party, too?