Analysis Announcement Breaking

Unite’s Irish ‘Community’ section adds its voice to calls on Graham to end union’s ‘disgusting’ treatment of Ogle

‘We are writing to you in response to the mistreatment of Brendan OgleYou must be aware of the injustice being inflicted on Mr Ogle… we expect that any exposure of abuse and bullying in the workplace within Unite must be of a high priority to you as General Secretary’

Brendan Ogle on a Unite Community march

The Unite union in Ireland has been been outraged by what Brendan Ogle‘s wife Mandy La Combre says is a political attack from London on her husband, the country’s most senior Unite officer, who has just returned to work after intensive cancer treatment. Ms La Combre had posted to her Facebook page about the ‘disgusting’ attempt to sideline Ogle and demote him to a job to an office some 100 miles from his home.

Unite continues to deny her allegations, but the country’s Unite branches have begun to organise in solidarity with their representative. The union’s entire Irish hospitality and tourism section has already written to the union demanding answers and a U-turn, while the 1/87 branch sent in a similar condemnation and demand for action.

And last night, Unite’s Community section in Ireland passed its own motion of support and has written to Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, saying that she must be aware of what is going on, demanding action and a meeting in person with Ms Graham when she attends the union’s Irish policy conference in Dublin next week – and reminding her that the union’s treatment of its workers must be as good as it would expect of any other employer:

14th September 2022

Dear Ms Graham,

We, the officers of Tom Stokes Right 2 Change Branch met on Wednesday 14th September where we passed a motion of support and solidarity to our colleague Mr Brendan Ogle.

We are writing to you in response to the mistreatment of Unite the union worker and senior officer Brendan Ogle. You must be aware of the injustice being inflicted on Mr Ogle since his to return to work after his recent serious illness by his employer UNITE the union, of which you are the General Secretary.

We are sure you will agree every worker who is out of work on sick leave must expect upon re-entering the workplace to return to the position they held prior to illness. This is the standard to which we hold all employers in the Industrial and Commercial sector. We expect the same standards in the Union sector. We are very disappointed to learn that this appears not to be case in Unite’s Irish offices where Mr Ogle appears to be treated in a manner contrary to expected work standards, where exclusion and removal of normal duties have been actioned, even to the point of Mr Ogle being removed from one of international recognition for his role in the Right2Water campaign.

We were encouraged by your commitment to building union power from the bottom up when you were elected as General Secretary in August 2021. We strongly feel that this attempt to isolate Mr Ogle runs counter to any genuine effort to build grassroots power. Within the Rep. of Ireland Mr Ogle’s leadership has been instrumental in worker and movement victories for many years based on the same bottom-up approach you proclaim to advocate.

We are aware that you will be attending and addressing the Irish Policy Conference next Tuesday 20th September and we are seeking a meeting with you to discuss our concerns.

Can you inform us of your availability to meet?

We trust you will follow up on this injustice displayed in Unite against Mr Ogle. It is incumbent on you as the General Secretary of Unite to ensure that all employees within your organisation are treated with dignity and respect. Therefore, we expect that any exposure of abuse and bullying in the workplace within Unite must be of a high priority to you as General Secretary.


Vivienne Farrell – Branch Secretary
Mandy La Combre – Chairperson
Timothy J Hogan – Equalities Officer
Damian Farrell – Branch Treasurer
Hilary Darcy – Vice Chairperson

Mr Ogle declined to comment.

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  1. Great letter from the Community Branch – more power to them.
    I wonder how the threatened legal action against Skwawkbox is progressing? I doubt that the Gen Sec will be able to justify spending member’s money on legal advice about Skwawkbox’s honest reporting of the disgusting and in my opinion totally unlawful disability discrimination Brendan Ogle has had to endure at the hands of his employer Unite the Union.
    I would love to see Sharon facing Brendan in a Tribunal and then Steve in the High Court- it would probably end her career. She has to stand for re election in 4 years time and if she allows Unite to continue discriminating against a cancer survivor and threatening libel action against honest people reporting the discrimination her chances of the decent members in Unite voting for her again are zero.
    It makes you wonder if she wants to be re elected and if not, what her remit actually is.

  2. I’m pleased by that. Like many people who reluctantly left the Labour party once Starmer’s leadership became unacceptably divisive and sectarian (in a destructive factional sense), I joined Unite Community to keep a connection with the party my parents, grandparents, great grandparents supported, even though, under Starmer, it is in a fallen state and completely denatured.

    Thank you Vivienne Farrell, Mandy La Combre, Timothy J Hogan, Damian Farrell and Hilary Darcy. Thank you Unite Community.

  3. Smartboy, thank you. I couldn’t put it better myself.
    As much as you would like the opportunity to see Sharon facing Brendan and Steve, my educated guess is that she is going to backtrack pretty soon.
    I am not going to be surprised if British branches start passing motions of solidarity with Brendan Ogle it this situation isn’t sorted soon.

    1. Great stuff! Am glad to read that not everyone is
      silenced by Labour Right Wing ..

      Well done Irish Comrades for standing up for those
      needing support ..

      which should – ahem – be what Unions are for ..

      and the Labour Party for that matter ..

    2. Reply to Maria V
      I really hope so Maria – you wouldn’t treat an animal the way Unite has treated Brendan Ogle. Shame on Unite. It has gone down into the gutter and brought the whole TU movement with it.
      Also I think Unite will have big problems in future representing members complaining of disability discrimination as employers will naturally use the way Brendan was treated as a defence.
      Brendan’s mistreatment and resultant undermining of the union’s ability to represent members is a sackable offence in my opinion but owing to the legislation around the election of Union General Secretaries Sharon Graham can’t be sacked and is in post until the job comes up for renewal in 4 years time.
      Therefore it is up to the Branches to, as you suggest, pass motions of no confidence and also raise the issue at either Annual Conference (if Standing Orders permit) or at a specially convened conference to deal with this sole issue.
      If Sharon is reprimanded by Conference and if as a result the NEC and its subcommittees refuse to work with her she will be forced to resign. This would be the best solution in my opinion for all concerned.

      1. Smartboy, as a Unite member I am disgusted by Brendan’s treatment: this isn’t how trade unionist behave and you are right, how can we tackle bad employers, when Unite behaves as bad?
        If this isn’t sorted soon, I will bring the matter up at my branch next meeting sometime in November and my guest is my branch isn’t going to be the only Unite branch discussing this matter.

    3. One would hope so. His treatment by his own Tops is disgusting. All trades unionists should defend him. How long is Southsides reach?

  4. The Irish side of unite is a viable union even if forced to jettison the British part of the union.This is possibly a solution to the London centric Sharon Graham if she doesn’t want to play ball.and let her explain why she put the boot into a good union man behind his back.and broke up the union
    .I am suprised at her actions despite not supporting her I thought that she was trying to make a new approach to the beginning of her leadership…..looks like I was wrong.?Steve would never have allowed this to happen to unite….or Beckett who by the way is “Irish” and has possibly an opinion on this.

  5. Goldbach Anything is better than the wall to wall coverage of the Royals which moved from Macabre to Grotesque with lack of respect for a dead person having little to do with decency…and tradition and more to do with remaining in power..These miners golbach are taking a big risk with the current dictator in the Ukraine.Thanks for the info..!and not suprised about the lack of interest in Ireland….its traditional for the brits..!

    1. I remember quite clearly ( in parts ) very nefarious activities by the Tops, when Ireland had T+G branches. Voting irregularities were rampant and the members were far from pleased with their reps. Did the guilty avoid capture and then started the climb. I don’t know, we had a few local difficulties around then. What I do know is that as soon as the T+G amalgamated my membership was terminated. Woe is me to no longer have that warm protective scarf of syndicalism to wrap around me. They can take their shiny suited, brown tongued area reps and get flushed.

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