Divisive tactic

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WHY do the leaders of the trade union Unite consider it right to encourage their members to demonstrate outside people’s private homes (your report, 1 November)? It does not simply represent an ugly and unacceptable side to the conduct of industrial relations in the recent Grangemouth dispute, it also negates most of the laws that have been passed on peaceful picketing in more than a century.

Legislation since the Trade Disputes Act of 1906 has detailed that it should always happen at or near a place of work. Trade unions and society generally tread on very dangerous ground if we encourage various forms of action outside someone’s place of residence.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has claimed that Unite leader Len McCluskey has praised the tactic as “a sophisticated, smart way to do business”.

If that does represent Mr McCluskey’s view then he should seriously think again.

It might be legitimate for the union to find out the places, the official offices, where large companies such as Ineos actually make their decisions, and demonstrate there.

But the so-called “leverage” tactics – turning up at the homes of directors and managers – offend almost every notion we have about civil liberties and protection of privacy.

Labour leader Ed Miliband ought to make it clear to Mr McCluskey that “leverage” projects a very bad image of the trade union movement and, by association, the Labour Party.

It is an image that could spell electoral disaster for Labour if it is not changed.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes, Fife

YOUR comment (31 October) on the Grangemouth dispute is, in my opinion, wholly unconvincing.

Having shelled out millions of pounds of taxpayers money to ensure the continuation of employment at this facility, I expect the Prime Minister of the UK to speak up on this issue and I find no fault in the manner in which he did this in the House of Commons this week.

The fact that he used PMQs to take the leader of the Labour Party to task is also appropriate in my view.

The Prime Minister’s comments not only do not leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth, but your description of his view on Grangemouth as being “conveniently partial and revisionist” has certainly a totalitarian whiff about it.

Both Michael Kelly’s column and Alastair Harper (Letters, 31 October) made a much more professional and accurate contribution to the issue than did The Scotsman’s comment.

Faced with the anarchy Ineos had to deal with, there was no option but to make an offer that even Unite could understand. The pity is that the ordinary working men and women on that site were the pawns in the union’s totally irresponsible wrecking game.

We had enough of mass industrial strife in 1970s and 1980s and the Grangemouth episode may be only a harbinger of things to come. What we can do without is an Arthur Scargill Mark II in the form of Mr ­McCluskey and his political ­ambitions.

It’s the job of politicians to represent the best interests of their constituents and the public at large, and that includes telling it as it is. In a case of this importance to the country, what the PM said needed saying. 

The pity is that the politicians here did not have the guts to speak out long before Ineos was forced to act as it did. Incidentally, have those who castigate Ineos any ideas on whether our new best friends, the Chinese, who own about 50 per cent of Ineos, do so on behalf of the comrades who run Unite or the bosses who run Ineos?

Gordon H Macspadden

Beattock Road

Moffat, Dumfriesshire