Was the ‘Unite The Union’ election for General Secretary conducted Illegal?
STATEMENT FROM GERARD COYNE
I have been notified by email that I have been sacked from my position as West Midlands Regional Secretary of Unite the union following a disciplinary hearing held at Unite’s London office on June 15th.
I am deeply disappointed but not surprised at my dismissal. 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.
Seven charges were originally made against me that it was claimed amounted to gross misconduct. They consisted of such heinous crimes as publicly criticising and challenging Mr McCluskey’s decisions in leaflets, newspapers and social media. All related to my conduct during the General Secretary election campaign.
Three of those charges I managed to knock out before the hearing and three were dismissed at the final hearing. The final one related to to an alleged technical data breach, which it was claimed had damaged Unite-Labour Party relations.
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.
However, I will not be bullied into silence. Once the Certification Officer has considered my complaint about the conduct of the election, I am looking forward to a re-run of the contest. We will build a union where members interests are always put first – not subordinated to the political machinations of a clique.
I will be appealing against the decision.