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Unite Wales boss’s shameful behaviour in Bannau Brycheiniog hotel

14 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Peter Hughes. Photo Unite Wales

Martin Shipton

The union boss who used dubious tactics to secure a crucial nomination for Vaughan Gething in the Welsh Labour leadership contest was involved in bad behaviour at a hotel where members of staff were abused and alcoholic drinks consumed and not paid for after the bar had shut.

Peter Hughes, the “regional secretary” for Wales was one of eight Unite officials involved in the incident who stayed overnight in the Nant Ddu Lodge Hotel near Merthyr Tydfil as part of a union training event at the venue.

A member of Unite’s Cardiff General branch tipped off Nation.Cymru about what happened because they were angered by Mr Hughes’ intervention to stop the union’s Labour leadership nomination going to Jeremy Miles.

Both candidates had made presentations and answered questions from members of Unite’s Welsh political committee, but observers have said that when it appeared that Mr Miles was likely to win, Mr Hughes intervened and said he was disqualified from receiving the nomination because of a recent rule change that said nominees wishing to stand for political office should have had experience as lay union officials.

Although this interpretation of the rule is disputed, Mr Miles was ruled out and the nomination went to Mr Gething.

As a result the union is using its funds to heavily promote the candidacy of Mr Gething.

Nant-ddu Lodge Hotel. Photo by Graham Horn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Our union source wrote to us saying: “I write in response to your recent articles on Unite the Union in Wales over the debacle that is the nomination for First Minister. I am contacting you over the terrible situation that is ongoing in the Welsh union senior team. I am going to refer to something that was covered up and kept away from the General Secretary of Unite and the members in Wales.

“On April 28 2022 the union held a training event at the Nant Ddu Lodge, Merthyr Tydfil. There was an overnight stay that included dinner for all those attending. During the evening on April 28 the union employees relocated to the closed bar area (closed due to staff issues) and proceeded to drink and make excessive noise.

“Once the lounge bar closed the majority of these people left for bed. However around nine of them decided to help themselves to stock, pouring beer and stealing stock. They were also abusive to the night porter. All of this was caught on CCTV.

“The next day the owner of the hotel investigated the claims of the staff, viewed the CCTV and contacted the union office in Cardiff stating that he was going to contact the police.”

Letters of apology

A union official then contacted the hotel and arranged for the cost of the stock that had been wrongly consumed to be paid for. Letters of apology were also written by the individuals concerned.

“However the whole situation is totally unacceptable. I am sure that you will be interested as these same senior people are the ones burning through union money to fight against Jeremy Miles in Welsh Labour.

“It stinks that they got away with this. Perhaps Unite should focus on themselves and stop meddling and preventing union members from supporting their preferred candidate. I hope you can investigate the facts above and bring this issue into the eyes of members.”

We looked into the matter and the claims in the email we received were corroborated by the hotel.

The union member who tipped us off said: “The worst part of it was that senior officials employed by Unite were abusing low-paid members of staff at the hotel – the very kind of people they should be representing and supporting.”

Unreasonable behaviour

The eight Unite officials who participated in the events wrote letters of apology to the hotel, including Mr Hughes, who stated: “I write to apologise for the unreasonable behaviour that your staff had to endure last night. We had a wonderful time at the hotel and are extremely sorry.”

The letter from Mr Hughes to the hotel.

Alan McCarthy, a Regional Coordinating Officer (RCO) with Unite, stated : “I write regarding our disgraceful behaviour last night and offer my sincere apologies to you and your staff.”

Andrew Pearson, a Unite regional officer, wrote: “Please accept my apologies for the behaviour towards your staff.”

Daryl Williams, another Unite regional officer, wrote: “Please accept apologies for our behaviour last night which was out of order. We also apologise for helping ourselves to drinks.”

Gareth Jones, a Unite RCO, stated: “I write regarding our disgraceful behaviour last night and offer my sincere apologies to you and your staff. We also apologise for helping ourselves to drinks.”

Jono Davies, a Unite regional officer, wrote: “Please accept my apologies for the behaviour towards your staff.”

Jo Goodchild, another Unite regional officer, wrote: “Please accept apologies for our behaviour last night which was out of order. We also apologise for helping ourselves to drinks.”

Tony Brady, a Unite RCO, stated: “I write to apologise for the unreasonable behaviour that your staff had to endure last night. We had a wonderful time at the hotel and are extremely sorry.”

A Unite spokesperson said: “We understand it’s been two years since these events. It was dealt with by the management of Unite in Wales at the time and there was no use of union funds.

“Unite promotes respect to workers in the hospitality sector across Britain and Ireland and it does not condone any behaviour that could cause distress to workers.”

The management of Unite in Wales at the time, and remains, Mr Hughes.


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Another Richard
Another Richard
1 month ago

Some of the letters seem to be identically worded, which suggests they are a cut-and-paste job. So I rather doubt the sincerity of the authors – unless of course they lack the intellectual capacity to draft an apology in their own words.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

And not only cut and paste, but they look like they’ve been written by primary school kids. No more than a couple of sentences each. Cari dyms.

Another Richard
Another Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Saying “we had a wonderful time” on an evening where staff were abused and drink was stolen doesn’t suggest contrition, does it?

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Not good. No apology when the perps are still in post. I have worked away for years and had to suffer many a late night post last orders with tenants yelling the night away till silly o clock and the rest of the hotel trying to sleep, that was when they were paying for it. Night porters and bar staff have a hard enough job without managing yahoos and are not exactly top of the pay scale.  As a union rep they should be absolutely aware of this. If my employer had been presented with the same I would be… Read more »

WelshNatter
WelshNatter
1 month ago

Unions are scum really

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  WelshNatter

My experience has been good in the main. Doesn’t mean this instance is excused.

Grievous
Grievous
1 month ago
Reply to  WelshNatter

That’s unite union ,don’t tar all unions with the same brush .

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

You don’t really expect such “entitled” behaviour from Union officers.
Nor such blatant dirty tricks.

But, thinking about it … perhaps you should.
Show me a commitee in any organisation where there is an opportunity to get a well paid job and feel important and I’ll show show you all that is small and mean in mankind

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Erisian

It was always like that. Rank and file Union members were a mixed bag but generally “salt of the earth” types but once elected into full time roles some of them just could not contain themselves and developed an entitled snouts in any trough attitude. Just like public school boys really.

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

It seems that Mr Miles is better off without these yobs representing him. None of their responses said ‘My’ there is,… The , Our, For, Unreasonable behaviour. Not one responded with MY behaviour. They are an absolute disgrace to the organisation they have hijacked and should be removed from their positions. Will Mr Gething now want to distance himself from this organisation?

A.Redman
A.Redman
1 month ago
Reply to  Why vote

Very doubtful .Remember when his comment was picked up on a microphone still live?

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