Sunday, March 21, 2010

The True Face of UNITE

If you want to know what the true face of UNITE union thuggery, read THIS article from today's Sunday Telegraph. Anyone who has been involved in a strike and decided to work through it has been subjected to the mind games and intimidation described in this article. Or worse.

I remember it well from my days working for the port employers during the dock strike. Working dockers would be physically threatened, and in some cases beaten up. Their families would be intimidated. As the employers' spokesman, appearing on TV and radio several times a day, I didn't escape from the thuggery of the TGWU (UNITE's predecessor union) either. I received several death threats. One day my car tyres were slashed. I would regularly get phone calls which I would answer and then hear complete silence at the other end. Psychological intimidation is often far worse than physical threats.

And that's exactly what those who are working through this strike are having to put up with now. They're not scabs. They're heroes.


Unknown said...

Why are you Blogging so much today? This is all stuff we can read ourselves and your comments add nothing
Are you still feeling poorly?

thespecialone said...

Why isnt this going out on the TV news bulletins? Why isnt Ed Balls or any other Labour MP being questioned by Andrew Marr et al being asked about intimidation? Why isnt Gordon Brown telling Whelan that it has to stop? Wouldn't be because Brown is a busted flush and needs Unite's support to hold on to power? This is disgraceful politics playing by Unite but the Labour Party seems to be totally incapable of (or just doesn't want to) bringing Unite into line.

thespecialone said...

Hayley, what a stupid comment! It is Iain's blog and he can write what he likes (as long as it is not to incite riots!). It is just about a free country still isnt it?

Ven123 said...

To thespecialone-

But it's information overload and less is always more, especially when we could find these things for ourselves anyway. I certainly don't want to hear stories about trade union disputes from last century

Mrs Rigby said...

Iain, you must have read that PCSU is planning to strike on Budget Day and also plans 'picket lines at Westminster'.

PCS MPs have been 'asked' to show solidarity with the union and refuse to cross picket lines.

It looks as if some MPs are being asked to go on strike.

bonetired said...


Read this very very long thread over at Pprune.

I would suggest that you work backwards. Reading it it seems that the strike is being nownot nearly as solid as Unite claim since these are people actively involved in flying the planes for BA. then Cabin Crew and then British Airways - CC Industrial Relations

(Unfortunately its one of those web sites that doent easily give page info)

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Sadly Iain, my experience of the 1970's was the same. People get shown the same tapes over and over on the BBC, of Police chasing strikers. Well, if you had to work in an environment where shop stewards acted like gangsters and thugs, you understood why it was essential to get rid of that tyranny. You cannot have mob rule.

Unknown said...

It only goes to show what a bunch of hypocrites the labour movement are. They are happy to intimidate the defenceless, promote relative unfairness amongst workers by ring fencing pensions for existing staff and expecting new colleagues to do the same job at the same pay with an inferior pension, they are happy to abuse any advantage to their narrow short term gain. And they have no concept of service to others, like the public.

Employees should have the right to take a Union form their workplace to the employers tribunal for abuse of their power in just the same way employers are accountable.

Anonymous said...

13 years and full circle.
Well you could say 31 years and no change. The same sneering union leaders.

Shock horror - owner of blog .... bloggs!

golden_balls said...

its iain blog ! as long as you know he's a Tory and will repeat the usual Tory mantra.

This could all be written by CHQ i wouldn't allege such a thing you understand its just standard Conservative Guff.

Election fever is in the air you'll get this from most partisan websites including the left i'm afraid.

Stepney said...

And whilst such practices are going on and people are cancelling their holidays what did our Charlie - hero of the workers do today?

He went salmon fishing up in the Highlands.

Seriously; could you make it up?

tory boys never grow up said...

The correct place for anyone threatening violence and intimidation is in the courts and those who have been on the receiving end of it should inform the police.

The correct way to deal with strike breakers is by silent contempt. They have joined the union, they have participated in two overwhelming votes for strike action and yet are not prepared to accept the views of the majority of their colleagues. That doesn't make them heroes in my book.

I suspect the really heroes will be those who are trying to use the internal structures within UNITE to try and achieve a settlement (which appears eminently achievable from the outside)
Mr Dale is of course is only interested in this dispute for narrow party political purposes - he rather gave the game away when asking for a summary of each side's case after making several posts on the matter.

Jess The Dog said...

Shocking stuff indeed.

I hope that those targeted for such intimidation keep copies of emails, texts etc to pass to the authorities.

In fact, it would be in the interest of BA, BAA and the CAA to co-ordinate or support an investigation with a view to collecting evidence for the police.

Some of the threats will breach the Communications Act 2003 and others the various Terrorism Acts....particularly any threat to contaminate food, a potential breach of flight safety.

I wouldn't be surprised if many of these threats have been issued by full-time trade unionists rather than cabin crew, who fulfil a vital flight safety role and are well aware of their responsibilities.

Cameron must push hard on this issue, demanding that Brown condems the intimidation and launches an investigation...which he won't, of course, with the inevitable consequences for the opinion polls.

Bardirect said...

appears to support the deceptive nature of their pr too

Antisthenes said...

I have just posted this comment on Times Online. Do you think I have a valid point or I am just a silly old conspiracy theorist?

Something has been puzzling me about the BA strike theoretically it should not be happening at all. Why? Because all the other BA unions have done a deal , which is bound to put Unite in a bad light with the public. The public know that the pay and conditions for BA cabin staff is way above the average for the industry so no hope of sympathy there. BA is close to bankruptcy so can not afford to concede much and Unite know it. Then the penny dropped, this strike has nothing to do with safeguarding Unites members rights at all. It is all to do with furthering socialist aims and increasing Unite control in the industry. The union want to force BA into bankruptcy anticipating the government stepping in to take over the airline and bailing it out, as good as nationalising it and the bonus is a more compliant management.

Simon said...

No, they're just scabs.

Wild allegations from one source. Why no mention of the intimidation campaign against those workers speaking out in defence of the strike?

Max Atkinson said...

Your point about intimidation being part of strikes in days gone by rang bells with me about a rather unpleasant experience I had during the miners; strike in 1984 during the filming of the 'Claptrap' documentary for Granada television (for links to the fuller story of which, see

As part of preparing Ann Brennan to speak at that year's SDP conference, the producer had arranged for us to watch Arthur Scargill speaking at the TUC in Brighton. A cameraman was positioned in the aisle near where we were sitting, and the idea was that, while Scargill was speaking, I would point out to her which rhetorical techniques he was using.

Before I'd got to the end of my first sentence, I felt my shoulder being grabbed roughly from behind and accompanied by menacing voice informing us: "If you two don't shut up while Arthur's speaking, I'll knock your f*****g heads in."

The cameraman saw and heard exchange, and all three of us knew that we'd better abort the plan PDQ - so the eventual film showed us looking at tapes of Scargill 'immediately after his speech' (though it was actually filmed in Buxton a week later).

I knew that the Nazis used to physically remove and beat up audience members who showed signs of dissent from Hitler's pearly words of wisdom, but hadn't realised, until then, that physical threats to show agreement were still alive and well in the British trades union movement 50+ years later - and I wasn't even showing dissent but was merely analysing Scargill's rhetoric.

Andy said...

That article doesn't really describe much in the way of actual intimidation. If you sell your colleagues out by strike breaking you can hardly expect to be popular.

It goes without saying that there are allegations of threats and intimidation by BA management towards strikers.

Mind you Dale is implying that Unite is orchestrating threats and comparing it with his own claimed experiences of death threats, classic guilt by dubious connection stuff.

I hope he's got a good lawyer and has proper evidence of such orchestration.

Steve H said...

***PCS MPs have been 'asked' to show solidarity with the union and refuse to cross picket lines.***

PCS doesn't sponsor any MPs. So how can there be any "PCS MPs"?

Jimmy said...

Thuggery? She got a nasty e-mail. She's not only crossing picket lines but she's even agreed to front a yellow union. What on earth does the dozy woman expect from the colleagues she's knifing in the back? Chocolates? Flowers?

Newmania said...

Makes you wonder how voluntary the supposedly ring fenced and voluntary Poltical contributions are

Nigel said...

Trolls out in force today, Iain.
Maybe you struck a nerve.

Hayley and Richard, I'm sorry that Iain seems to be wasting your precious time.
So why are you wasting more of it producing such asinine comments ?

DespairingLiberal said...

It isn't trolling to point out that the so-called "intimidation" is little more than a few phone calls and emails.

I wonder though what is really going on here. Could it be that the Tories are working with Walsh to provoke a strike? Cameron's team and the Tory bloggers seem to have been very ready with a stream of invective against Unite. A diversion from Ashcroft?

In the light of this, the assault on Byers, Hewitt, et al from the Murdoch machine gains focus. Not that they don't deserve it - Hewitt in particular is probably the most mentioned in Private Eye for her relentless gravy training.

Unsworth said...

@ Desparing Liberal

And you, of course, are party to these e-mails and telephone calls.

Care to let us know the content?

The King of Wrong said...

Amazing how so many people feel that being threatened and intimidated is a reasonable consequence for "stabbing your colleagues in the back" by doing the job you're paid to do - and, yet, we have so many recent laws guaranteeing everyone respect, equal treatment and safety at work.

Jog on, trolls. The unions are a 19th century movement in a 21st century world.

Realfish said...

Not scabs, just ordinary men and women doing far more than their Union leaders are in attempting to safeguard their jobs and those of their other 40,000 colleagues at a time of real difficulty for the airline. And all that you can call them are scabs. What a disgusting piece of work you are.

It is protection from their Unite (BASSA) and their leaders that the Cabin Crew need, not BA. They are seemingly being used as pawns in factionalism and internal loathing within Unite and of course a forthcoming leadership election(I see Len McCluskey already has his BA 'battle honours' on his 'Vote for Len' site).

Throughout, Unite have been dishonest, cynical and incompetent. Remember McCluskey's crocodile tears when it seemed that everyone would be out for the 12 days of Xmas. He said that the strike needed to take place then because of the requirements of the law - conveniently forgetting to mention to an unquestioning media that Unite put the timetable together in the first place.

And then the other lies: 'BA won't negotiate,' for example. It is a matter of public record (recorded in the most recent court case brought by Unite against BA) that for twelve months BA have been trying to address these issues and that Unite's factions wouldn't even sit in the same room as each other during consultations. The Judge (Mr Justice Holland) hearing Unite's complaint about imposition referred to this and judged that, in the circumstances, it was fair and reasonable for BA to take the action that it did in reducing the number of crew - which was the substantive issue that staff were balloted on. (Incidentally, I have not heard one broadcast journalist challenge Unite on this point when they have whined on about lack of consultation).

And last week, ahead of the strike, Tony Woodley asked if BA would allow Unite to extend by three weeks the window in which it had to call as strike, in order to put to its members the offer BA tabled. BA agreed. Within two hours McCluskey had called the strikes, denying Unite members the opportunity of seeing an offer that was more favourable to most cabin crew than even Unite had put on the table.

From the PPRUNE link (see bonetired's post above)you will see that some crew have no doubts as to why Unite did not want to put BA's offer to its members, you will also see that true to form, a number of the TU reps have taken sickies (and won't have to worry about striking, therefore). Getting themselves de-rostered from duty on strike days has in the past been another favourite way of leading their member from the front. What cowards they are.

Some crew have had enough of Unite and have for the second time attempted to form a break-away association (PCCC) and established a web-site. Someone, however, established a similar sounding site, set up bogus links, and loaded it with pornography. A quick check (again a matter of public record) identified that the purchaser of the domain had the same name of one of Unite's (BASSA's) leading lights.

There is continuing evidence of the intimidation and attempted intimidation by BASSA members and officials - some have now been suspended by BA for publishing or attempting to obtain the names of staff who were volunteering to crew flights during the strike.

This is the unacceptable face of trades unionism. Unite is pulling out all of the stops to project all of its appalling and unacceptable behaviours onto the managers in the airline in the hope that it can get away with it (and hoping that a supine and lazy msm won't do too much research and ask them too many difficult questions).

tory boys never grow up said...

"Unite is pulling out all of the stops to project all of its appalling and unacceptable behaviours onto the managers in the airline in the hope that it can get away with it"

Oh that will be the same management that was fined US$ 300m for price fixing. Funny how all the free market ideologues forget that one - and prefer to indulge in a bit of trade union bashing instead - isn't it?

Stephen Townsley said...

If you are a member of Unite you have participated in a ballot. Every secret ballot has had 90%+ support from members.

If, having lost the vote, you then decide to go to work and defy the majority opinion you are not going to make those on strike happy. They wll have lost pay and BA are removing benefits. If you dont agree with unions then leave the union. However bear in mind that BA managers will not be loyal to strike breakers.

Do I approve of intimidation - no. If some officials or members of Unite are bullying staff then they should be reported in accordance with the BA anti-bullying policy.

To equate todays strikewith the 1970s is ridiculous. People have a secret ballot.

Of course the agenda here is not about an industrial dispute it is simply Tory smears on trade unionism. Back in 1920s the Daily Mail reported it had a letter from Russian Communists saying the Labour Party was full of communist sympathisers. It was a fake. Today's story is the trade unions taking over the country. Will the Tory Party never grow up!

The King of Wrong said...

Saltwell and Bensham Residents Association said...
Back in 1920s the Daily Mail reported it had a letter from Russian Communists saying the Labour Party was full of communist sympathisers. It was a fake.

That particular letter may have been fake but, according to MI5, Jack Jones was on Moscow's payroll as late as '84.

This, of course, surprises no-one. The trades unions and the communists are obviously related in terms of their aims and their supporters; the only question is how deep and how formal any alliances are or were.

Rush-is-Right said...

Back in 1920s the Daily Mail reported it had a letter from Russian Communists saying the Labour Party was full of communist sympathisers. It was a fake.

A fake? Perhaps. But true? Certainly.

Moriarty said...

Jimmy: "Thuggery? She got a nasty e-mail. She's not only crossing picket "

You make a very good point. It would be best not to use over-inflated language. I agree.

"What on earth does the dozy woman expect from the colleagues she's knifing in the back?"

Oh dear.

DespairingLiberal said...

King of Wrong (a rather apt name!) - if we were to go solely on the word of ex-MI5 operatives and Christopher Andrew, we would live in a very strange world. This is the same Gordievsky who very heavily lost a libel case against Michael Foot, whom he also accused of being a Soviet agent. Oh and of course Gordievsky was himself heavily paid by MI6 for many years and was at the time of the allegations against Jones and Foot seeking publicity for his book. So no agenda there then.

The Zinoviev letter by the way did not allege that the Labour Party was infiltrated by Moscow. It simply called on the Communist Party of Great Britain to agitate for a revolution - the Mail and other Conservative forces used this against Labour.

Moriarty said...

@Despairing Liberal

Gordievsky did not "very heavily" lose a libel case against the traitor Foot for the very simple reason that he was not sued by Foot. Foot's action was against The Sunday Times. I know that you are a Lib Dem but that is not an absolute prescription against checking your facts.

DespairingLiberal said...

Moriarty, you know perfectly well that the facts at question were the statements in Gordievsky's book "Next Stop Execution" that Foot was a KGB "agent of influence" with the codename 'Boot'. If you can make a case that there was after all some truth to that allegation, then please provide some facts and stop trying to smear the messenger in support of another smear. Obviously the point of bringing this up now for you and your fellow traveller is that Foot is dead, but the fact remains that the ST (and therefore by default Gordievsky) lost that case and Foot was exonerated. It's a disgusting smear against a dead man and his family to do what you and your pals are doing here, but not untypical of the Tory Right, who we've seen time and time again play the "commie agent" card.

Moriarty said...

@Despaiing Liberal

I'll believe Gordievsky's claims above Foot's denials. Gordievsky has a good track record. Apart from the EU, Foot was never right about anything in his life.

Next you'll be telling us that Jack Jones was a patriot rather than a KGB lickspittle.

And the fact remains that your post was inaccurate, your use of the term "de facto" notwithstanding. It doesn't hurt to admit a mistake from time to time.

The King of Wrong said...

Jones (and Foot, who is somewhat irrelevant to this discussion), if accused, would have to deny it - innocent or guilty he'd say the same thing, so a denial tells us nothing.

I don't know whether Gordievsky/MI5 are right, I haven't seen the evidence, but it seems plausible and I have no reason to doubt them. It doesn't make much difference to me either way.

tory boys never grow up said...

King of Wrong

Re your last post - Good to know that the "logic" of the Witch trials still persists in 21st century.

DespairingLiberal said...

Yes of course King of Wrong, you have no reason to doubt a smear that plays directly into your world view. Don't ever bother to research any actual facts, as I wouldn't want you to feel disappointment.

Jimmy said...

"I'll believe Gordievsky's claims above Foot's denials."

Imagine my astonishment.

Unknown said...

I think Antisthenes has an extremely good point.

I actually thought Unite was trying to help the labour party in the run up to the election.

But one would think that even a trades unionist could not have been that stupid.

The King of Wrong said...

@DespairingLiberal: right back at you. You're believing the other side of the story just because it plays into your world view.

Do you seriously think that the intelligence services spend all of their time Making Stuff Up because it might be A Bit Of A Laugh?

I do find it amusing to be lectured on witchhunts by people who gladly attempt to smear Tories on the basis of their associates' alleged backgrounds, but I've got more important things to be doing right now than playing Whack-A-Troll.

tory boys never grow up said...

"I do find it amusing to be lectured on witchhunts by people who gladly attempt to smear Tories on the basis of their associates' alleged backgrounds,"

Evidence - or perhaps just another Tory smear. Of course a troll is just someone who disagrees with your rather narrow viewpoint.

The King of Wrong said...

Evidence - or perhaps just another Tory smear.

Sure, why not. Can't be bothered looking through Jimmy's posts, but I think this selection will do:

At August 03, 2009 6:06 PM, DespairingLiberal said...
This isn't to do with apologising for things our ancestors did. It's to do with telling the truth about historical events. The sad truth is that many Poles did aid the Nazis, but this is denied by many Poles and (apparently) Mr Kaminiski.

At September 17, 2009 8:16 AM, DespairingLiberal said...
Yes, this is so much worse than routinely taking in large sums from tax exiles who live abroad and who refuse to disclose the source of their income, as with the Conservative Party for example.

At October 19, 2009 12:56 PM, tory boys never grow up said...
The truth is the Tories have abandoned the centre right mainstream within Europe to sit with a more right wing grouping. [...] the Tory Party is not telling the truth about its commitment to Europe and/or that it is not a centre right party despite the image Dave is trying to project for public consumption within the UK.

Now run along like a good little troll, I've not got the time to waste on you.

tory boys never grow up said...

King of Wrong

All your quote demonstrates is that I use words rather more carefully than yourself.

tory boys never grow up said...

And of course the parts of my post that you missed just demonstrate a certain intellectual dishonesty on your part.

The King of Wrong said...

@tory boys never grow up:
Yes, I shortened your post (and marked where I did so), on account of it being unnecessarily verbose and pointless.

You somehow inferred, from the Tories' choice of partners in Europe, that they are lying. Which is, pretty much, an "attempt to smear Tories on the basis of their associates' alleged backgrounds". You remember? The claim you asked me to prove?

You showed no evidence that the "far right" group's core tenets actually contradict anything "Dave" has said, nor did you attempt the same with the "centre right" group's tenets.

In short, because this is in danger of turning into another long post: you're not particularly careful with your choice of words, hence the need to post several times in quick succession, your arguments lack intellectual rigour, and your father smells of elderberries.

tory boys never grow up said...

The third sentence followed from the second sentence - which you omitted. The third sentence was a separate sentence, and not part of the first sentence as you indicated in your cack handed editing.

Describing the Tories EU allies as "far right" is your wording not mine - I only contended that it was to the right of the EU centre right grouping that the Tories abandoned. A claim which I am happy to defend and I doubt any reasonable person would see as contentious. I noted that three conclusions were possible you interpret this as single conclusion.

So much for intellectual rigour! the blood of many a brave knight shall be avenged! In the name of God, we shall not stop our fight till every one of you lies dead...

The King of Wrong said...

@tory boys never grow up:
Do you have some kind of reading comprehension problems? My "cack-handed editing" was to shorten the quote by 40% by removing the wholly unnecessary second sentence and the weasel-words "The only rational conclusions are" which are unjustified and false, particularly when applied to your opinion. There is another - 100% rational - conclusion, which is that new group is a better fit for the policies expressed by the Tories under David Cameron. Sadly, for you, this doesn't involve them lying to anyone, and the fact that you're unable to countenance that explanation is precisely what I meant by a lack of intellectual rigour. The fact that as a result you have discarded by far the most likely option means that you are a fool.

(Guess I made time for a quick game of Whack-A-Troll after all...)

Moriarty said...

@king of wrong

I don't know why you bother. The only difference between tory boys and jimmy is that the latter is a "one-liner" idiot and the former is more verbose in his nonsense.

The King of Wrong said...

I like arguing?

But, yeah, it's a complete waste of time.

tory boys never grow up said...

Your contention that the new group is a better fit for the policies expressed by the Tories under David Cameron and the Tories are not lying to anyone is perfecly consistent with one of the original possibilities I set out. Providing you assume, like any rational person, that the new grouping is not of the centre right.

The King of Wrong said...

@tory boys never grow up said:
There you go again, trying to hammer the world into convenient (to you) boxes. The term "centre-right" is almost entirely meaningless and whether the Tories are in your "centre-right" box or "to the right of the centre-right" box has no effect on their stated policies.

It's called logic. The effect does not produce the cause. If Tory policies are centre-right and the Tories fit into a group which isn't labeled as "centre-right" then the labelling is wrong. This isn't rocket science.

Also, if "not lying" is consistent with your options, how come the options were "the Tory Party is not telling the truth [...] and/or that it is not a centre right party despite the image Dave is trying to project". Care to explain how options of "lying and/or lying" - don't bother trying to weasel out of the meaning of your words - is "perfectly consistent" with "not lying".

Moriarty said...

@king of wrong

You're forgetting he is a Labour lickspittle. Words meant what he wants them to mean.

tory boys never grow up said...

King of Wrong

Please look up what and/or means.

The "or" part of that option does not imply lying.

And while we are debating logic I think that you will find that "not telling the truth" can be a lot wider that "lying". It can include silence - an not uncommom position among the Tory leadership on EU matters (and not a few Tories would agree with me on that)

You may wish to construct all the straw men that you wish so that you can then subject them to your trials. And of course Moriarty will accuse me of twisting my own words so that they mean something other than what he wants them to mean.

Yes we can argue what is meant by centre right - but in the context within which I was arguing (i.e the EU) the meaning is pretty well understood.