Dead Men Left

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Shaun Brady: management stooge

One of Blair's loyal underlings, Kim Howells, and the director of a train operating company have been accused of "meddling" in the rail union, Aslef, in support of right-wing union general secretary Shaun Brady, recently dismissed from his post following a disciplinary hearing. The Guardian:

In a handwritten message to the Aslef general secretary in April, Mr Howells, the minister of state responsible for the rail industry, said he was unable to attend the union's annual conference in Scarborough but he sought an urgent chat with Mr Brady, "so that you might fill me in on the situtation re the national executive".

Potentially more damaging to Mr Brady's hope of overturning last month's dismissal after a disciplinary hearing is the disclosure that the inaugural speech he was to have delivered to the conference in June was written by a senior manager.

Kevin Maguire reports that an internal memo, marked "private and confidential", shows Brady's inaugural address as union general secretary - a twelve-page attack on the left-leaning Aslef executive committee - was drafted by Stephen Hardwick, BAA's director of public affairs. BAA operate the Heathrow Express rail link, where Aslef drivers struck last year under Brady's predecessor, Mick Rix. Historically, British unions have been fiercely defensive of their independence from employers, even if not the government; Britain has had few examples of the nakedly "yellow" unions encountered elsewhere. Outright collusion of the sort Brady appears to have practiced is comparatively rare, and - as the secrecy here indicates - not generally considered acceptable.

Shaun Brady, one of Blair's most dogged loyalists within the union movement, has shown himself time and again to be, at best, a crapulent boor, and at worst driven solely by the typically-Blairite desire to silence the left, with scant regard to his members' wishes. Brady's brawling and bullying were deeply damaging to unions' image; and now it would seem he has secretly worked hand-in-glove with Aslef's supposed opponents.