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Graham set to face storm in Dublin as Irish press covers Ogle story – and branches meet in solidarity

Unite boss heads to Dublin next week as alleged treatment of Ireland’s most senior Unite official appears in two Irish Examiner articles – and branches arrange meetings to express solidarity with cancer-surviving trade unionist passed as fit to return to work but being demoted and pushed into 100-mile commute

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham is set to torrid time in Ireland when she visits Dublin next week.

The Irish Examiner has run not one, but two articles about the union’s alleged ‘disgusting’ treatment of Brendan Ogle, Ireland’s most senior Unite officer, after Ogle’s wife Mandy La Combre posted to Facebook about accusing Unite’s senior management of ‘an exercise in coercion’ to force Mr Ogle – who has been declared fit to return to work after treatment for a serious cancer – into a job 100 miles away from his home base and one that represents a demotion. Ms La Combre said that he had also been removed from the Right2Water campaign against water charges – leading the campaign’s activists to say they would no longer work with Unite.

Unite threatened to sue Skwawkbox for revealing Ms La Combre’s allegations and told the Examiner that it denied any truth in the allegations. The union is reportedly claiming internally that concerns for Ogle’s health are driving its actions, but his supporters say that doctors and occupational health have fully cleared him to return.

On top of the adverse media coverage, Unite branches in Ireland are now convening meetings to pass votes of solidarity with Ogle, whom many credit with transforming the union’s presence and fortunes in that country – and Skwawkbox has learned that Ms Graham is scheduled to visit Dublin next week for Unite’s Irish policy conference.

It seems she is likely to sail into a storm.

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13 comments

  1. Only Red Tories are that stupid / corrupt
    Unions abusing their own are a sure sign they have sold out
    Need to force Sharon Graham to show her true colours
    What motion at the Labour Conference is a Red line for Socialism

  2. Two things:
    1. The medical professionals are best placed to determine the welfare of an employee and if they have deemed Ogle fit for work then Unite’s position is irrelevant
    2. If Graham legitimately felt that Ogle was not the person she wanted to continue in the role then a transparent severance package might have been agreed with Ogle that allowed Graham to form the management team she wanted and Ogle to be recompensed.

    1. tinfrom, I think she will travel to Ireland and claim that it all has been a misunderstanding, now that she is aware of all the facts, Brendan will keep his position.
      She will get a picture with Brendan giving him a hug and with the biggest smile that she can master.
      Joseph Okeefe is right, she is in for a fight if she persists in demoting Brendan, a fight that she will lose will this case ever reach the equivalent of an English Employment Tribunal.
      Joseph is right too that the average British doesn’t care much as to what is going on in Ireland. However, Unite members are going to care very much if she is foolish enough no to stand down and allow Brendan to return to his post and as a result Unite loses the case and the cost plus compensation runs into thousands.

  3. If as Unite says internally their actions are driven by concerns about Brendan Ogle’s health I hope Sharon Graham will be able to explain to Unite members in Ireland why she thinks relocating him to a job 100 miles away from his home is going to assist him.
    Taking up this job would mean either a daily round trip of 200 miles or the upheaval of moving himself and his family 100 miles to a new location away from family and friend and very importantly away from his doctor, consultant and other medical staff who are familiar with his condition and treatment.
    I think Swawkbox is absolutely right about Sharon facing a storm in Dublin – they will eat her up and spit her out as my old nan used to say. Sharon is about to find out that Unite will not get away with its callous disregard for the well being of a Trade Unionist and cancer survivor over there. (The Irish have a proud history of Trade Unionism and even have a statue of “Big Jim” Larkin the founder of the ITGWU in O’Connell St, the main artery through Dublin) However in my opinion she’ll duck out of the trip rather than face the fury of the members.
    I have checked the Irish legislation and they have what they call “9 grounds for discrimination” These are based on European law and are slightly more robust that the “protected characteristics” in UK law.
    Brendan therefore will be able to take Unite to the Irish equivalent of an employment tribunal for on the grounds of Disability discrimination as the demotion and relocation are clearly as a result his illness and in my opinion he’ll win.
    Solidarity with Brendan and our Irish brothers and sisters

  4. I seems votes of no confidence in Graham would be appropriate.
    Her actions, general attitude and treatment of respected colleagues is far from the expectations of a caring and effective Union. As for claiming to be acting on behalf of Brendan when it’s against his wishes, rights and professional medical opinion and could easily be seen as attempting constructive dismissal….. Graham is well past her sell bye bye date!!!

  5. Since Graham was elected she had mounted a campaign of getting ride of Unite Officials that didn’t support her, by agreeing redundancy packages paid by our levies.
    She demoted Beckett for example, and appointed to positions those that supported her in less that transparent conditions.
    A relocation 100 miles from his home is because of over Brendan’s health? pull the other one Sharon!! Solidarity with Brenda and I hope that the Irish brothers and sisters give her a taste of what sindicalism actually means.

    1. A bit of syndicalism, great line. Yes indeed, it would give us all a bit of heart to see that.

  6. Maybe its time for a more appropriately Irish trade union and I am sure that many members will be thinking that.especially as the average British person is not interested about anything across the water.including the way Graham treats her colleagues…The laws are European laws and not British so shes in for a fight.

    1. Reply to Joseph O’Keefe
      I and most Trade Unionists believe in International solidarity. We stand in solidarity with all workers in struggle irrespective of their country. Therefore it would be a very sad day in my opinion if we had so little to offer our Irish brothers and sisters that they were obliged to form or join an Irish only TU.
      The problem as far Brendan is concerned lies with Unite’s management in the UK and in Ireland but fortunately the members in Ireland are not prepared to stand by and watch in silence while he is mistreated . They will let Sharon Graham know how they feel about his unlawful treatment loudly and clearly if she shows her face in Dublin

  7. Joseph, you are right she is in for a fight and one that she is going to lose, alongside her credibility in Ireland.
    My guess is that she will travel to Ireland and say something along the lines, that she didn’t know anything about any of this and that of course Bredan can return to his position.
    She is not going to have the bottle to face the Irish equivalent of an Industrial Tribunal, when she knows it is a lost battle.
    You are right to say that the average British don’t care about what happens in Ireland but, the average Unite member will care if she pursues this case and as a result loses thousands of pounds paid by our levies.

    1. Has the gorgeous TUC Top gun offered to mediate or is this concern of a foreign nature?

  8. I voted for my fellow countryman Howard Beckett because I didn’t know anything about Sharon at all. Now she is in charge, and rightly so as she topped the poll, it seems to me that she’s behaving like Starmer only in a skirt. What the hell does she hope to achieve by stopping Unite from backing Enough is Enough? Plaudits from the right wing press? Ain’t happening. Sort this situation out with Brendan asap. He deserves better.

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