Falkirk selection: Sunday Times accuses Unite of “dirty tricks” over leaked emails

October 27, 2013 10:01 am

Today the Sunday Times(£) reports on a cache of 1000 emails passed to the paper by Grangemouth refinery owners INEOS regarding union convener Stevie Deans and his involvement in the Falkirk Labour selection, and the subsequent party inquiry. The emails were obtained by lawyers acting for INEOS, and the Sunday Times reports that they have been passed to the police, whilst claiming that the union was guilty of “threats, intimidation and dirty tricks to thwart [Miliband's] inquiry into alleged electoral corruption”.

falkirk unite sunday times

The Times report suggests that the party is “facing pressure to reopen the inquiry” – but they have not as yet seen any of the emails allegedly sent to and received by Deans (which are not in the public domain) only the reporting. When asked about the selection process in Falkirk this morning, a Labour spokesperson told us:

“Labour has acted swiftly and thoroughly to ensure there is a fair selection process. Karie Murphy has withdrawn and is no longer a candidate for this seat, the Union join scheme has been abolished and the constituency remains in special measures meaning the selection of the candidate will be overseen by Scottish Labour.”

Meanwhile Unite have hit back against what they called a “continuing media witch-hunt”:

“Unite was the subject of entirely unjustified attacks in relation to the Labour parliamentary selection in Falkirk.  Both the Labour Party and Police Scotland investigated the issue and found that neither the law nor the Party’s rules were broken by the union.  The email exchanges, apparently leaked by an employer for its own purposes, do nothing to change that.  Unite’s own quite proper investigations into what had occured in Falkirk, which we were enjoined to undertake,  were all conducted through the medium of external solicitors.  The union had no direct contact with anyone involved in the Labour Party investigation.  It is normal for people subject to investigations which at one time involved the police to avail themselves of legal assistance in preparing their responses.  It is also normal for Mr Deans to have dealt with the Kanes, who are members of his family, and further normal for Unite to provide assistance to its members who had done nothing more dangerous than try to involve themselves in democratic public life.  This continuing media witch-hunt demonstrates how threatening some elements in society continue to find such involvement by working people.”

Anyone who thought that the row around the Falkirk selection was over will be sorely disappointed, but it hasn’t gone away. And the party still has to select a candidate for the seat at some point, which risks opening the can of worms all over again…

  • The_Average_Joe_UK

    We ‘Unite’ are working in the best interests of our members.

    • Hamish Dewar

      You may have meant that sarcastically Joe, but in terms of members’ rights, Unite have acted exactly as a union should do, namely standing up against bullying tactics from an employer. The Grangemouth saga is not over yet, and so far Labour have failed to take a firm stand.

      • treborc1

        Yes and then agreeing the Company was right in the first place,they then accepted the companies deal mostly because most of the members would have walked out on the union and back to work.

        • The_Average_Joe_UK

          Since when was the truth relevant? Unions are saintly bodies that do no wrong in the pursuit of workers rights. Thats all Unite do, just ask Hamish.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        Unite do seem to have been spectacularly stupid over this whole business. What should a Unite member in Grangemouth think, taken on this “roller-coaster” ride from being advised to vote against an offer, to then being under threat of redundancy, to then see his union “embrace” the original offer?

        Let’s not forget the wider circumstances, a CLP secretary and Unite convenor suspected of not only trying to ensure a particular result in the CLP selection, but doing so using Ineos paid time, and a strike called to avoid embarrassment putting at risk the entire Scottish petri-chemical capacity. And a rift so bad with Labour that it threatens to undo nearly 100 years of history.

        And that is what a union is supposed to do? In Unite’s case, the officials concerned from the convenor upwards to the Len McCluskey seem to be completely inept, at best.

        I’m not surprised that Labour are silent on this. It is a self-inflicted accident of nearly nuclear scale. As for taking “a firm stand”, I’d hope this will come about by Ed Miliband making a public speech about how Unite has failed its’ members, and that is why they should join Labour directly.

        • The_Average_Joe_UK

          Jaime, you don’t really believe all that do you?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            What should I not believe? The facts are widely reported in the media, the interpretation is my own.

          • The_Average_Joe_UK

            I guess you missed the 96 tonnes of sarcasm in the post ;-)

          • rekrab

            I guess we all missed it? ouch!!!!

            I think I’m more in touch with the Grangemouth situation than you are Joe, I am certain they’ll pull the plug on the petrochemical site come 2017, the investment wont see the light of day because the whole process is economically floored?

          • The_Average_Joe_UK

            “I think I’m more in touch with the Grangemouth situation than you are Joe”

            How so?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I did.

            I know nothing more of this whole affair than any normal person. But going back quite a few months, and judged dispassionately, I cannot see the Unite union as coming out from this whole affair from the CLP selection to the industrial relations disaster to the Labour affiliation catastrophe with any credit at all.

            If this was a Government cock-up, Labour would be calling for resignations. I think the Len McCluskey would be the name “in the frame”.

            But, I am not a member of a union – thankfully (and I expect, like Groucho Marx, that no self-respecting union would want me). Unions are private little clubs, and run themselves as they want. It is just a shame that they appear to employ idiots, and hold the hopes and aspirations of decent working people, but dash those hopes against inevitability for political purpose.

          • rekrab

          • Monkey_Bach

            “96 tonnes of sarcasm”

            Isn’t that the sequel to Fifty Shades Of Grey?

            Eeek.

        • rekrab

          The company handed out an ultimatum in the form of a leaflet the members had to sign and return, not a formal way of doing things? over 50% of the work force refused to sign the form relating to the new terms and conditions on offer, a choice every individual took.

          Being a bully because you hold the power over who works and who doesn’t doesn’t mean you make the correct decisions, more often than not a bully will make the wrong call, lets wait and see when Ratcliffe and co will make the £300 million investment? my hunch is not before 2017 so his action now are some what premeditated slaughter of a continuous hard working plant.

          You haven’t any evidence to suggest Dean used company time to do his CLP work? I take it his e-mail is a source of his own identity that can be accessed by any normal working computer.

          It will take something like 3 weeks to fire up the petrochemical plant and restore normal working conditions, seems to me that the Grangemouth management team just love adding more costs to the situation.

          On your last paragraph, do you believe that being a labour party member means you don’t ever strike and you just accept whatever the management throws at you?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            The company made an offer, the union advised the workers against accepting it, the workers did not accept it, the company declared the plant would shut down, the union then “embrace” the offer they advised against 3 days before. Is that in dispute?

            I genuinely do not know what the law says about consulting the unions. Whether the company has to or does not have to. I do know that workers have a personal contract with their employer, so they do not have to listen to any foolish union, nor belong to one.

            Goodness, it is as though you think that unions are good for workers. I don’t see that at all: i think that sensible workers achieve much more for themselves and their families by steering very well clear of unions.

            As for Stevie Deans, his use of Ineos time for CLP business is widely reported. I don’t check their time cards Derek, but I imagine something so simple has been verified as it is simple to do so. And for the computer, there will be a digital trail. Let the facts emerge, they are allegations until proven or acknowledged and not contested.

          • rekrab

            The company makes an offer, all be it somewhat underhand, the employees decide, the union makes a suggestion on the offer and the employees decide.

            Normally an official recognition will be agreed by the employer and the union, failure to agree on those procedures normally results in locked horns and dispute.

            How many people use mobiles to contact outside people at work? how many people use their works computer to look and sometimes reply to their e-mails? How many people would need to be investigated under this type of action?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1332704.ece

            1,000 emails, including devastating exposure of union practices, collusion and collaboration to frustrate the Labour enquiry.

            I think I know of you to be personally honourable and of integrity, and with rightful passion. I do not think when you read of this you will find these “alleged” activities to be morally supportable.

          • treborc1

            But in the end the union has lost the American owners have won and Unite is now basically on bended knees and really has lost all bargaining powers. It really is going to have to work hard to keep a lot of members happy if they do.

          • rekrab

            I agree, the nature of the world markets and the few mighty share holders have cornered the entire worlds leading work forces.

            From the spivs and divs to the ultimate greedy capitalist, pushing up the price of raw materials in such an economic struggle has pushed working conditions backwards.

            Yeah, many wont understand what a levy fee to the union is all about now but unions are and have been only as strong as their members want to be.

            The sad bounce on is that many companies are now considering their shift premium payments and bonuses and those multi national op’s are tied into the closure threat as their winning goal.

            America’s west coast is pumping billions into refinery and chemical plants, shipping the gases to be stored in gas tanks at Grangemouth is a cost the Grangemouth share holders wont endure, it’s a pity they aren’t as true as they wont people to believe, the Scottish government deal too filling the so called loss hole for Grangemouth has only set back the closure date.

            In the end, it will be the Grangemouth share holders that are shown to be the pretenders and they might not even wait until 2017?

          • The_Average_Joe_UK

            This is exactly the kind of BS attitude that killed so much industry in the past. Management exist to make money. They have no interest in wasting money. Statements such as:

            “premeditated slaughter of a continuous hard working plant.”

            “It will take something like 3 weeks to fire up the petrochemical plant and restore normal working conditions, seems to me that the Grangemouth management team just love adding more costs to the situation.”

            I’m sure the workers of Grangemouth reading the above would treat you with the same contempt they’re feeling for Unite right now following their close call with disaster.

            As for “You haven’t any evidence to suggest Dean used company time to do his CLP work?”, read the Guardian article, the email evidence appears damning. I don’t think you care though as you’ll only see it one way.

            Derek, your post is a joke.

          • rekrab

            Tosh, piffle and pure trite Mr Average, your fallacy and corrupt mind has no end.

            Tom Crotty an Ineos director, was telling the new channels that it could buy all the chemicals it required (finished product I might add, from America) and the petrochemical plant in Grangemouth was spent and depreciated.

            Trade unions don’t manage the sites but the have the reserved right to question the manner in which their managed.

  • Richard MacKinnon

    The Average Joe, please read Ian McWhirter’s article in todays The Herald Scotland.
    Unite nearly closed Grangemouth oil refinery for good and Mcwhirter explains why.

  • JoeDM

    Why am I not surprised and shocked ?

  • Ian Young

    The Tories and their press friends are becoming obsessed by this piece of village pump politics. If this and the Rev Flowers is the best Lynton Crosby’s dog whistle shit spreader unit can come up with it, Labour ought to be heartened.

    Local workers at Grangemouth have real big picture politics to worry about while for voters in most key marginals, the tacky Tammany Hall shenanigans of Falkirk CLP may as well be taking place in Borneo.

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