THE leader of Unite yesterday pledged to continue campaigning against bad bosses and said he took comfort from recent attacks against his union over tactics used during the dispute at Grangemouth.
Len McCluskey said Unite was being targeted by the Prime Minister and sections of the media because the union was seen as a threat.
“For the media, ‘ugly trade unionism’ merely means effective trade unionism.
“So, yes, we are going to carry on making sure that bad bosses have no place to hide, and we are also going to put at the heart of our political work the need to secure new laws which guarantee trade union freedom and the rights of workers to stand up to the outrageous pressure of the employers,” he told a Centre for Labour and Social Studies conference in London.
Unite was criticised for targeting managers from Ineos, the company which runs the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland, during the recent bitter dispute which almost led to part of the site being closed down with the loss of 800 jobs.
McCluskey, referring in his speech to Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe, said: “Events of the last few weeks really tell us all we need to know about our economy in 2013.
“They reveal the almost unlimited power of private ownership, the right of one man to do as he wants with a vital national economic asset, even to the point of closing it down regardless of the consequences.
“They highlight the vast legal disadvantages unions labour under in trying to protect members’ pay and conditions.
“They show the weakness of politicians and their incapacity to act under globalisation.
“In fact, these events sum up the vast inequality of power – not just income – which is the product of the neo-liberal domination of our thinking and our politics from 1979 onwards.”
McCluskey attacked the “hysterical reaction” to Ed Miliband’s Labour conference speech, when he pledged to freeze energy prices if he becomes prime minister.
“Control of energy prices for a year and a half and action against property developers who don’t build on their land: two measures which would help ordinary people stay warm in winter, and would help our children get a roof over their heads,” he said.
“Yet even this mild transgression against the dogmas of the market was met with howls of rage. It was ‘back to the ’70s’. To which my only answer to the Tories is: it might be, but only the 1970s. Your ideology is taking us back to the 1870s, and the days of pure free-market liberalism, with no role for the state, no social safety net, and no curb on the bosses’ power.”