Thousands demand reinstatement of Coventry union rep

Coventry Council accused of victimising Peter Randle for his legitimate trade union duties

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Activists will hand in a petition on Tuesday afternoon (March 22) signed by 11,000 supporters calling for the reinstatement of Unite representative Peter Randle.

Earlier this month, the council took the outrageous decision to escalate tensions with Unite by suspending the union’s shop steward on bogus charges in the middle of the dispute.

Peter Randle now faces dismissal but Unite has accused the council of victimisation and has pledged its unwavering support for its shop steward who has already faced abuse and victimisation during the dispute, which has not been addressed by Council managers.

Unite has accused the Labour leader of the council George Duggins, and the other councillors of squandering millions and refusing to attend meetings with Unite. The dispute has already cost Coventry council £2.9 million, with costs rising daily, when it would cost just £300,000 to resolve the dispute.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said, “Thousands of supporters have gone on record to state that they are appalled by Coventry council’s treatment of Pete Randle.

“This Labour council’s behaviour is completely unacceptable, it must reinstate our shop steward immediately and pay drivers the rate for the job.

“The leaders of Coventry Council appear hell–bent on fabricating any excuse not to negotiate while inflaming tensions by attacking our rep,” she added.

“Council leader George Duggins needs to understand that Unite will be unwavering in our support for Pete and for the drivers who just want to be paid the market rate for the job.”

Coventry councillors have tried to shirk their responsibilities to resolve the dispute by claiming they are legally barred from attending negotiations. But an investigation by Unite’s legal experts have found nothing in the legislation that the council refers to which bars them from attending negotiations.

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab noted, “There is nothing that our legal experts have found in law that prevents Coventry councillors negotiating with Unite. In fact there are councillors across the UK who engage directly with the unions in negotiations.

“Why are Coventry Councillors wasting millions in taxpayer’s money while refusing to negotiate? The people of Coventry deserve better.”

By Ciaran Naidoo