Militant protesters hounded senior managers at hotels, a children's charity fun run and the Downton Abbey castle in dirty tricks operations designed to humiliate them into giving in to the union's demands.
The Unite union’s campaign of bullying and intimidation has targeted more than 60 businesses in the past two years, the Mail can reveal.
Packs of militant protesters hounded senior managers at country hotels, a children’s charity fun run and at the castle where Downton Abbey is filmed in dirty tricks operations designed to humiliate them into giving in to the union’s demands.
And while the bullying campaign came to light during this month’s bitter Grangemouth oil refinery dispute, such brutal militancy has been going on unchecked since 2011.
Three executives at a construction company which was caught up in a separate Unite row this summer involving the Crossrail project called the police after they were repeatedly harassed at their homes, causing huge distress to their families and elderly neighbours
There were multiple protests outside their homes,’ a friend said. ‘It embarrassed them in the neighbourhoods. It is victimising the people who are wholly unconnected to get to the people who are connected. These were issues relating to business – bringing it to people’s own homes is reprehensible.’
The bosses fear speaking out or being named in case of reprisal attacks.
‘They were worried about the company and its members being targeted again. As we know, they [the militants] play by their own rules,’ the source added.
The full extent of Unite’s militant campaign has emerged after the Mail revealed this week that a sinister unit backed by general secretary Len McCluskey – known as the ‘leverage’ team – had invaded the front drive of one of the directors of Ineos, the chemical company which owns Grangemouth.
The boss called 999 fearing for the safety of his wife and two young children.
Ed Miliband’s close friend and major Labour donor Andrew Rosenfeld has also been implicated in the scandal after it emerged one of his firms has been aiding the union thugs by supplying them with free mobile phone calls and text messages.
Last night, former Labour parliamentary candidate Jonathan Roberts resigned from Unite following the Mail’s revelations.
The union has, however, stood by its campaign to target bosses’ homes, saying it would not be ‘cowed in any shape or form’.
David Cameron described the union’s actions as ‘shocking’ and ‘very serious’ and has demanded the Labour Party investigate one of its main paymasters.
Documents seen by the Mail show Unite leaders instructed militants to use growing ‘levels of hostility’ and to do ‘whatever it takes’ in their leverage campaigns, which have been going on for almost two years.
A 50-page union guide for activists details how they should identify ‘the potential vulnerabilities of the employer’ and states that ‘leverage treats the employer as an opponent’.
As well as Ineos and Crossrail, Unite mobs have targeted bosses at the Honda car plant in Swindon and he MMP packing company in Bootle, Merseyside.
In the Grangemouth dispute alone, the campaign targeted at least 66 companies, homes and events connected to Ineos, including customers, suppliers and banks.
Police were called when activists turned up to intimidate their targets carrying a giant inflatable rat and wearing hoodies, waving flags, playing loud music and chanting.
Ineos had threatened to close the plant at Grangemouth after a new pension package designed to save the business was rejected by Unite.
The union threatened to strike but finally gave in last week and agreed to call off the leverage team.
During the dispute, one militant squad descended the Limewood Hotel in the New Forest, which is owned by Ineos chairman and founder Jim Ratcliffe, 61. They arrived during Sunday lunch, chanting at diners for 45 minutes while putting leaflets attacking Mr Ratcliffe on customer’s cars.
They left after police were called but also protested at the nearby Pig restaurant, which Mr Ratcliffe has invested in, and Lymington Town sailing club, where he is a member. Again, police were called.
The group then marched down the local high street and targeted the Solent Half Marathon, which included a children’s fun run.
They also posted pictures of themselves wearing hoodies and high-visibility jackets outside Highclere Castle in Hampshire, where Downton Abbey is filmed.
It is believed leveraging started in late 2011 and is a carefully considered campaign designed to ‘get around’ laws brought in under Margaret Thatcher to curb picketing.
Unite yesterday shamelessly continued to defend its tactics. McCluskey said the union would not be ‘cowed in any shape or form’, adding: ‘If a company is engaged in what we believe is an unfair attack on workers and their families and their communities, then the idea that faceless directors can disappear to their leafy suburbs and get away with that type of action is something we think is wrong."