Union stand-off as GMB rebels win recognition

A bitter union battle at the AA has intensified after the breakaway AA Democratic Union (AADU) was given full independent status by the government’s regulatory body for unions, the Certification Office.

The AADU was set up by staff in 2005 after the road services group was bought by venture capitalists CVC and Permira for £1.75bn the previous year.

But the GMB union poured scorn on the AADU’s independence claim, insisting it was just “a nodding dog” for management and had fewer AA members than the GMB. The AADU immediately hit back, claiming it was the most-represented union.

AADU national secretary Alistair MacLean said the breakaway union was formed by GMB members dissatisfied with plans to break up the GMB’s AA division. He said the GMB had waged an “evil” campaign against it ever since.

“Since we started [the union] in 2005, we have suffered a vile onslaught from the GMB,” MacLean told Personnel Today.

“It was sending out e-mails to people who moved from the GMB to the AADU saying their houses were at risk because if they had a detrimental effect on GMB members, they would be sued.”

The GMB also accused senior AADU figures of stealing money, according to MacLean. But now he is convinced the rival union is down to just “50 or 60″ members, and will die out within the AA soon.

However, GMB senior organiser Paul Maloney told Personnel Today that the GMB had 2,300 members at the AA.

He said the AADU had about 1,500 recruits, because it accepted temporary workers for free and allowed permanent workers to pay by automatic deduction from their wages.

“The AADU is not truly independent because if it was to criticise the AA then the company would stop deductions at source and the union would be skint overnight,” he said.

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