Unite executive candidate on slate backing Sharon Graham ordered to pay for texting ‘inappropriate advances’ to care worker the same age as his daughter
A candidate in Unite’s recent executive council (EC) elections, who stood as part of the ‘slate’ of candidates backed by – and backing – Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, has been ordered to pay just under £7,000 to his wife’s carer after the worker sued him for sex discrimination and sexual harassment.
Mick Rice was recommended by the pro-Graham campaign as the ‘retired’ section candidate:
Yet despite the pending case, Rice both agreed and was put forward by the pro-Graham camp to stand in the elections in April this year – and has now been ordered to pay compensation to his former employee for sexual harassment that damaged her mental health, as the Daily Record has reported:
This is not the first time that the Graham slate, which performed poorly in the elections and both lost pro-Graham stalwarts from the EC and failed to gain a majority, despite the alleged involvement of Graham’s paid organisers and the use of ‘dark money’ to promote the slate on social media ads.
Tony Seaman, a close Graham ally, was allowed to stand for election despite the union admitting that he had made racist social media posts; Graham denied knowing another candidate after similar racist posts emerged – and questions were raised over the eligibility of other pro-Graham candidates, who were still allowed by the union to stand.
Graham’s own tenure as Unite boss has been marked by a string of allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – of abuse, cover-up and failure to protect women:
- that she attempted to have evidence destroyed in bullying and misogyny complaints about her husband, whom she now employs in her office despite a final warning from the union for his behaviour
- the union’s appalling treatment of Irish union legend Brendan Ogle has led to Ogle taking legal action over Unite’s ‘disgusting’ abuse and bullying following his return from cancer treatment. Ogle did not support Sharon Graham in the union’s general secretary election and the union’s conduct toward him led to protests during Graham’s recent Dublin visit, outrage among Irish politicians and even threats from a whole sector to disaffiliate entirely
- after her supporters failed in their bid to take control of the Unite executive despite ‘dark money’ spending on advertising, ineliglible and racist members being allowed to stand and the alleged use of paid organisers in and following the exec election campaign, her faction has resorted to Starmerite tactics to try to discredit the executive members’ election of a new left-wing union chair and both vice-chairs, as well as the vital Finance and General Purpose Committee
And most recently, she has provoked outrage among members by banning events exposing the Labour right’s smear campaign against former leader Jeremy Corbyn from Unite premises – a move that the union first claimed was because it wanted to conserve union resources, but subsequently gave away had been made in order to appease right-wing pro-Israel groups.
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