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Exclusive: Unite Ireland energy branch threatens disaffiliation from union over Ogle treatment

“Our members are outraged by this and I have been asked to let you know that these events and behaviour are now prompting a complete re-assessment of our relationship with Unite… which goes back many decades” – after massive crisis unresolved by HQ sours branch’s relationship with other unions, branch may now break from Unite entirely over sidelining of figure they feel could have solved it

The outrage in Unite the Union over the alleged treatment of its most senior officer in Ireland has erupted into a full-blown crisis this afternoon.

Irish branches of the union have expressed their outrage this week after Brendan Ogle’s wife Marie La Combre posted on her Facebook page a complaint about the ‘disgusting’ way in which she said the union was trying to ‘coerce’ Ogle into accepting a demotion and a move to an office some 100 miles from his home base after he returned to work from successful cancer treatment, in a move she claims is being driven from the UK headquarters of the union. Unite has continued to deny the allegations.

And now, the Unite Energy Branch in Ireland has written to general secretary Sharon Graham expressing outrage that the unavailability of the well-liked Ogle, one of the most capable trade unionists in the country and an expert in the Irish energy sector and its constitutional matters, has led to the breakdown of their relationship with other ‘ESB’ unions in the sector – and at being ‘denied’ Ogle’s help because of his ‘isolation’ by the union.

And the outrage is so great at the crisis ‘entirely of Unite’s own making’ that the branch is now going to conduct a ‘complete reassessment’ of its entire, decades-long relationship with Unite and may disaffiliate completely:

Mr Coss told Skwawkbox that Ogle is a ‘breath of fresh air’ in the union movement and that:

there’s no one better than him, he would have had this sorted in five minutes. I can’t understand why the union would be treating him the way they’re after treating him. I can’t believe we’ve ended up in a situation like this and our workers feel the same way.

We kept asking for Brendan’s involvement and it kept being refused.

Unite’s UK office has been contacted for comment.

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