Unite union has been ‘answering machine’ for airport workers – leadership candidate Gerard Coyne claims


he powerful Unite union has for too long been an “answering machine” for airport workers, leadership candidate Gerard Coyne has claimed.

Mr Coyne took a thinly veiled swipe at the current leadership of the union on a visit to meet British Airways ground staff at Heathrow on Friday.

He said the union must “step up” its support for the aviation sector which has been hard hit by the pandemic.

However, a Unite spokesman was quick to hit back saying his words were “deeply insulting” to members and officers who had worked to protect members throughout the crisis.

Mr Coyne is seen as the moderate candidate in the race to replace firebrand Len McCluskey as General Secretary of Labour’s biggest union backer.

At his first major visit since ballots first opened on Monday, Mr Coyne said: “Our aviation industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic.

“People, not planes, have paid the price – including our brilliant BA ground staff here at Heathrow.

“Unite must step up now to provide more support and assistance.

“For too long the only answers workers here have been getting from Unite is an answering machine.”

Mr Coyne said his plan for change at Unite will include a 24/7 support service for members and reps.

He also called for an extension of furlough for the aviation industry.

Mr Coyne has also pledged to end what he claims is the union’s “focus on messing around” in Westminster politics.


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