Group publishes open letter on its Facebook page
Unite Ireland’s Hospitality and Tourism branch has held an emergency meeting about the alleged attempts of the union to coerce Brendan Ogle – the union’s senior officer in the Republic, who has just been certified fit to return to full duties after fighting cancer – into accepting a demotion and office move, in what his wife Mandy La Combre has called ‘disgusting’ politically-driven behaviour ordered by the union’s London office.
As a result of the emergency meeting, the branch has written urgently to the union outlining its concerns and Mr Ogle’s stellar record – and contrasting the performance of the official ‘organising department’ – and has published the letter on its Facebook page:
Unite’s Hospitality and Tourism Branch Officers held an emergency meeting last night to discuss the treatment of ROI Senior Officer Brendan Ogle by Unite.
This Branch may be small but it wouldn’t exist at all without Brendan’s efforts.
He successfully opened up a sphere of influence for Unite in this burgeoning unorganised sector. Our view is that it has failed to grow due to the lack of support from the Organising Department. Many of our members including some branch officers weren’t aware of this department’s existence until very recently. This is contrary to Brendan Ogle’s unstinting support and advice to our branch officers and its members.
Brendan is a stalwart of workers’ rights over many decades. He has championed the causes of many exploited workers across a range of sectors and in recent times worked on behalf of members of this branch gaining major victories in various workplaces for our members.
Brendan is one of the inspiring figures to pursue or human right to water by leading the very successful Right2Water campaign.
It is because he cares deeply about people, not just numbers. When a Romanian worker was being abused for complaining about a bullying manager and exposed fraud being committed in a large Dublin catering company Brendan personally intervened and saved the worker from real threat and exposed the scandal.
When women workers employed by a religious cult were being abused by that cults restaurant Brendan personally intervened and used all his skills to get the workers out and get them a substantial settlement to boot.
When the very profitable Ivy Restaurant sacked female migrant workers for Trade Union activity Brendan defied initial poor legal advice from Unite to take the case himself and ultimately to win it three years later in the Labour Court. It is the first win of its kind in Irish Employment Law and Brendan gave his evidence to the Court last December while at the lowest possible physical ebb. Unite’s barrister Katherine Mc Veigh described Brendan as the best witness she has ever had in any case.
To see such a blatant attempt to side-line him from his duties despite the fact he has been deemed fit to return to work is both galling and horrendous. His wife, Mandy La Combre is a person of enormous Trade Union knowledge herself and of exemplary integrity she has bravely brought attention to this matter and in doing so has ignited a genuine concerned response from all who know Brendan.
Can you explain what is going on here?
We believe it is the members interests to see a return of Brendan to his full range of duties as Senior Officer in the ROI as soon as possible. It is hard to countenance if this does not happen and where that may lead. We hope to see a speedy resolution to this matter in order to continue with building the Union and our Branch.
Awaiting your response in earnest,
Hospitality & Tourism
The post triggered appalled responses from members:
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham is expected to face a torrid time when she travels to Dublin next week for the union’s Irish policy conference. With the Irish media starting to cover the case, Unite continues to deny there is any truth to Ms La Combre’s accusations. The union also replied to a Skwawkbox media enquiry about the allegations with a threat of legal action. Unite branches across Ireland are said to be organising similar emergency meetings and votes of solidarity with Brendan Ogle.
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