Trade union Unite are back in the news again after a brief hiatus following the end of the Corbyn melodrama last year. Outgoing general secretary Len McCluskey is facing questions about the £98 million of members’ money spent on building a four star Marriott hotel complex and conference centre in Birmingham which will house union offices. Despite a reported initial estimate of £7 million, the building costs ballooned to £57 million before construction began, with the key contract being awarded to Flanagan Group — run by McCluskey ally Paul Flanagan.
This morning ‘Red Len’ showed he still has plenty of life left in him as he hit back at the ‘hostile media’ for a ‘disgraceful smear campaign.’ In a lengthy statement the veteran left winger claimed:
“The world-class Birmingham hotel, conference and education centre is a reflection of this union’s sound management of its finances as an investment that will grow in value for our union… All Unite members can take pride in the wonderful building we have created in England’s second city. It will be a powerful resource for working people for many to come and will stand as a monument to Unite’s financial strength and commitment to its members… The Birmingham project embodies the ambitions of our union for our members and working people everywhere. It will deliver the best in education, training and support for the working class.
Reading such an eloquent tribute to the struggle of the proletariat inspired Mr S to find out more about what kind of ‘powerful resource’ Unite’s new £100 million project was giving ‘working people everywhere.’ A quick look on the Marriott’s website gives you an idea of how it intends to give ‘support for the working class’ with prices for the buffet breakfast starting at a mere £17.95 compared to Premier Inn and Travelodge less than a mile away where prices begin at £9.50 and £8.75 respectively.
The complex contains both the Tempo! restaurant offering ‘a leisurely experience’ and the W XYZ bar where you can ‘mix and mingle over speciality cocktails at the trendiest bar on this side of town’ featuring ‘smooth sippers and cool tunes from acoustic sets to sassy DJ mixes.’ The site also boasts a pillar-free ballroom ‘for use by both Unite and external clients’ with bathroom ‘walk in rainfall showers’ and the chance to ‘pamper your pooch’ with a complimentary dog bed, bowl, treats and toys. Sadly though smoke filled rooms for plotting are now out of favour at the site owing to the hotel’s indoor smoking ban.
Steerpike hopes Unite’s members consider the £98 million spent on such a project to be money well invested in the class struggle.