Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, is today (1 August) urging Robert Napier, the chair of the board of the homeless charity St Mungo’s, to carry out an immediate investigation into an allegation of victimisation of a lead Unite representative.

The call comes in response to emails, obtained under a subject access request, which make reference to the trade union activities of Unite’s lead trade union representative, Aftaar Malik. One of the emails includes the threatening line: ‘He [Malik] will make a pretty poor martyr.’

The email follows an incident where Malik was ‘left humiliated’ after being aggressively asked to leave a Managers Forum meeting.

Details of who sent the emails have been heavily redacted by the employer. Unite is still waiting for a response to an email sent on 30 July asking Mr Napier to uncover who wrote the email and the intention behind it.

However, Unite strongly suspects that St Mungo’s chief executive Howard Sinclair, is behind the threat to make a ‘martry’ of Malik, from the following line in the email: “I explained at the Managers Forum why he was asked to leave”. And Sinclair’s comment at the Forum meeting where he told attendees that Malik had been instructed to leave the meeting.

Unite which will begin balloting over 500 members at the charity for strike action from Monday 5 August, is profoundly concerned that the lead rep is being targeted for his trade union activities in the run up to the union’s industrial action ballot.

This latest accusation follows the recent employment tribunal ruling which found that the chief executive, Howard Sinclair and executive director of People and Governance, Helen Giles, had victimised a former staff member over an equal pay claim.

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “Unite is profoundly concerned over the way St Mungo’s appears to be victimising a lead trade union rep. Threatening to make a ‘martyr’ of a union rep is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“We have strong reason to believe that the email, referring to our lead union rep and stating ‘He will make a pretty poor martyr’, comes from the very top of the organisation.

“Our lead rep, who was invited to the Managers Forum and then aggressively asked to leave, was left feeling humiliated after learning that Howard Sinclair had told delegates to the meeting that he had been instructed to leave.

“It’s disgraceful that senior management would rather humiliate a trade union rep, than engage constructively with Unite to settle this dispute and avoid strike action. Unite believes that this treatment is part of a bid to undermine our union reps ahead of the strike ballot.

“Any attempts to victimise our representatives or stop them from speaking up for members and carrying legitimate trade union activities will be met with the full force of our union.

“Following the recent judgment against St Mungo’s chief executive Howard Sinclair for victimisation of a female employee seeking equal pay, our membership, service commissioners, politicians and the media will no doubt want to know what governance Mr Napier is providing in this situation.”