The story develops apace following Coyne’s admission this morning that he has been using Labour Party data – in clear contravention of the Data Protection Act (DPA). Unite’s Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, has just issued the following statement:
If all you have to offer is smears and slurs, then you have nothing to offer working people.
Gerard Coyne doesn’t seem to get Unite in Scotland. To be fair, it is reciprocated. Every time he sets foot in our country he has a knack of saying the wrong thing – and not usually to our members, preferring the company of sections of the hostile media to actually meeting the men and women of Unite.
Astonishingly, his latest journey across the border has seen him trash the union he seeks to lead. He peddles slurs, deliberately and methodically, without a care for the effect this has on the morale of members and those he seeks to lead on the workplace frontline, day in, day out fighting for fairness.
Let’s be clear. At Ineos, Unite’s members had no other option but to take on an abusive employer who sought to drive down their wages and destroy their pensions. I was more than proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our members in this fight, along with Len McCluskey. Today our union at Ineos is strong, committed to getting the best deal for this workforce and for Scotland’s foremost industrial site.
Instead of attacking our reps and members, Gerard Coyne should be applauding them for never laying down their principles and standing together in solidarity. Or perhaps this is something novel to him? And he is wrong again about Unite’s defence members. I know because I led the push at Scottish Labour for the party policy to mirror that developed with and backed by Unite’s defence members.
That policy says quite clearly that Unite’s foremost priority is the protection of our defence members’ jobs and communities, and that unless and until there is a viable alternative, providing the same skilled work, then we will always put or members’ jobs first.
Lastly, Falkirk. As Gerard Coyne also well knows this union did nothing – nothing – wrong in Falkirk. We were in fact taking forward the party’s own policy – to encourage working men and women to join the party their forefathers and mothers built, to re-engage so that the party again reflected their aspirations.
Three inquiries found that Unite acted properly at all times. For Gerard Coyne to revive a dead and discredited story in the sorry pursuit of votes is a disgrace. I am staggered that anyone seeking to lead the biggest union in Scotland comes here with the purposeful intention of slurring our organisation, undermining decent shop stewards and offering not one word of hope to the men and women of this union who work tirelessly to improve working life in Scotland.
If this is a tactic, it is a new one on me. But not on Gerard – earlier this week he was attacking Unite members in Ireland for campaigning against water charges.
Mark my words, our members in Scotland, just as they have in workplaces across the country, will reject his slurs and smears. Unite Scotland is proud of its members, of our tireless officers and convenors.
If Gerard Coyne cannot offer them the respect and decency they deserve, then he has nothing to offer them at all.
Coyne’s ‘low road’ strategy – if it merits that word – has put him out on a limb and handed a saw to Unite members. Between that and his admission of law-breaking this morning, stick a fork in him.
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