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Press Release: Protesters Demand £1m Each From Unite
worker & community struggles and protests |
Tuesday April 08, 2008 14:16 by Bob Miller - Unite the union
Protesters demand £1m each from Unite
Unite the union responds to protesters claims.
PROTESTERS DEMAND £1M EACH FROM UNITE
Protesters outside Unite HQ in Belfast are demanding the union pay them £1m each it was claimed today.
The union said claims by the men that legal fees had not been paid was incorrect and the men were now seeking £3m from Unite in order to settle the dispute.
The union believes it has acted honourably in responding to the individual’s requests that legal costs be covered … and it has.
Unite the union is aware that a press statement has been issued on behalf of Gordon McNeill and Madan Gupta, in relation to a dispute between the two men and the union.
The union had no intention of making public statements about this dispute, but it is compelled to do so because of the incorrect information provided about the union and named officers of the union. It is correct that a case has been pursued in the Tribunal in Belfast and the Tribunal found in favour of the individuals in cases against their former employer ICTS. The individual claimants were represented by Breslin McCormick solicitors of Belfast, and since the Tribunal judgment was issued the union has paid to the solicitors £106000 on account of legal costs, and the union is involved in constructive and amicable negotiations with the solicitors to reach agreement over outstanding areas of claim. The allegation the union has reneged on a promise to pay the costs is wrong and defames those involved on the union’s behalf. There is very little chance that Mr. McNeill or Mr. Gupta will be required to pay a single penny towards the costs bill.
Whilst the individuals have received some compensation from ICTS, part of the Tribunal’s decision is subject to an appeal. The costs of the appeal are being paid by the union. The allegation that the union has reneged on a promise to pay these costs is wrong and defames those involved on the union’s behalf. The agreement to pay the appeal costs was notified to Breslin McCormick solicitors several weeks ago and will be known to the individuals.
In fact, amicable discussions regarding the costs issues took place between legal representatives as recently as the morning of Friday 4th April.
Mr. McNeill and Mr. Gupta (and Mr. Bowyer) have instructed other solicitors (Mr. Canavan of Jones and Company) to pursue a claim for other compensation against the union. The Unite Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley did agree to investigate this claim and the union’s solicitors have engaged in to date confidential discussions with Mr. Canavan, including by visiting Mr. Canavan`s office in Belfast earlier this year. The union had hoped to reach agreement in relation to this dispute, but the individuals have demanded payments of £1 million each to settle the dispute. Mr. Woodley and Unite are unable to make such payments which are without any legal justification, and fail to take into account the sums already payable by ICTS. Mr. Woodley and the Regional Secretary for Ireland Jimmy Kelly have made payments of hardship benefits to the individuals and by agreeing to pay the legal costs, the union has complied in full with the assurances given in September 2007.
The union is disappointed that the press release was issued and contains so many inaccuracies. The union would prefer to continue to negotiate through solicitors as was agreed by Mr. McNeill and Mr. Gupta, and the union will not pay out several million pounds, even when faced with threats to begin a hunger strike. All of the individuals have received compensation and now have no legal bills to face. There is no need to begin a hunger strike and in the light of the above information the threat to do so could be viewed as representing the most unreasonable pressure on the union and individual union officers. Despite these threats and the false allegations made Unite will continue to address the issues concerning legal costs and will continue to fund the appeal. The union has no desire to see Mr. McNeill and Mr. Gupta on hunger strike and they are encouraged to instruct Mr. Canavan to make urgent contact with the union’s solicitor.