Backers of Gerard Coyne had planned a peaceful protest, but the atmosphere became heated when supporters of Len McCluskey, the incumbent general secretary, arrived for a counter-demonstration.
One Coyne supporter claimed he was assaulted, while McCluskey’s backers said the protest was poorly timed given the acquisition of Vauxhall – although its new owners tried to assuage concerns over job losses for Unite members working there on Monday.
The Coyne campaign arrived with lifesize skeletons to highlight “skeletons in Len’s closet”, in a nod to claims the general secretary had borrowed union funds to help him buy a £700,000 central London flat, with the authority of Unite’s executive council.
Some of McCluskey’s supporters were seen attempting to remove skeleton masks worn by Coyne campaigners, pulling down placards and using phones to film them.
Gerard Coyne is challenging McCluskey for the union leadership.
Coyne, the union’s West Midlands regional secretary, claims McCluskey used Unite funds to finance Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign and has increased members’ subscription costs by a total of £10m.
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The Guardian-6 Mar 2017