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Unite union chief Len McCluskey visits Gloucestershire

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 25, 2013

SHOW OF UNITY: Len McCluskey with staff at the opening of a new learning centre.

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UNION chief Len McCluskey criticised the Government and vowed to do more to help people living in poverty in Gloucestershire during a visit to the county.

Mr McCluskey, the general secretary of the country's biggest union Unite, went on a whistle-stop tour of the county.

He stopped off at the Unilever factory in Barnwood, which employs people from across the county and makes a wide range of products including Wall's ice cream.

After that he opened a new learning centre at Pullman Court in Gloucester, before heading to the nearby Irish Club, where he spoke to around 20 members of Unite from across Gloucestershire, including shopkeepers and business owners.

During his speech, he criticised the Government for letting down people who work at Unilever by failing to kick-start the UK economy.

"Unilever is a great manufacturer, but they feel rudderless about what the Government is doing," he said.

"They need leadership. People look to us at Unite for leadership and I want to give them that."

Gary Mills, from GL Communities, works closely with foodbanks in the county and often refers families in need to them.

He asked Mr McCluskey how Unite can help people who are forced to turn to foodbanks for help.

Mr Mills said: "I am dealing with poor and elderly people on a daily basis and starvation in the city is a real problem.

"There are people starving here and I can't do anything about it. I want Unite to be able to help the situation."

Mr McCluskey vowed to look at the issue to assess how Unite could help.

He added: "We are the fifth richest country in the world, yet we still have foodbanks helping starving people. Something isn't right somewhere.

"All we want is a decent job, a decent house, a decent education for our children, and a decent retirement."

Mr McCluskey has been a trade unionist since 1968, and was elected as general secretary of Unite in November 2010.

Unite was formed in May 2007 by the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union.

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