Unite and fight: Trade union bosses are doing their members a disservice

Alistair Darling, Jack Straw et al are right: the public deserves answers about Falkirk

Share

Ed Miliband is desperate to end the damaging Falkirk by-election affair. Despite a growing list of senior Labour figures calling for another investigation into claims that the Unite union signed people up to the party without them knowing – with a view to ensuring a left-wing candidate won the selection – Mr Miliband is emphatic. Even the doubts now being cast over general secretary Len McCluskey’s own election are yet to change his mind.

Alistair Darling, Jack Straw et al are right: the public deserves answers about Falkirk. But there is a broader issue here, too. Put together with the Grangemouth oil refinery debacle, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Britain’s largest trade union – or its leaders, at least – are over-reaching themselves.

This is no attack on organised labour. The case for workers to be represented, and their rights protected, is self-evident. There is also plenty of recent evidence of wholly constructive industrial relations; the aftermath of the financial crisis saw many trade unions working closely with management to minimise job losses in the best interests of companies and staff. But too many union bosses want war, not dialogue. Grangemouth is a case in point. The decision to close the plant – subsequently reversed – was the result of trade union intransigence born of a mind-set focused too much on contest and not enough on the economic forces against which Ineos was battling. Some 800 workers nearly lost their jobs as a result.

The alleged links between Grangemouth’s Unite convener and the carry-on at nearby Falkirk only add to the murk. Nor were the tactics employed earlier in the dispute any more edifying, with one director facing a demonstration outside his house. Yet Mr McCluskey has not only refused to apologise for the upset caused to the executive’s wife and children, he is promising to employ the strategy again. “Fighting trade unionism is back,” he says.

The whole business, from Falkirk to Grangemouth, is an unholy mess. Mr McCluskey claims that his union is being attacked as a “proxy for smearing the Labour Party”. Not so. It is Unite that is the problem.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas