An email sent to the private addresses of Unite members by general-secretary-candidate Les Bayliss's campaign has opened up the old enmity between the Amicus and TGWU sides of the merged union.
Bayliss's supporters accuse Unite's joint general secretary Tony Woodley of using his speech at the Trade Union Congress's Protect Public Services lobby on Tuesday to intervene in the election.
Ron Pursey, Unite convenor at the engineering company Cummins, said: "I attended the rally against the cuts in London, with the deputy convenor and two of my shop stewards.
"I would just like to say we were disgusted that our joint general secretary Tony Woodley used that occasion to have ago at Les Bayliss and use it has a campaign message for Len McCluskey."
Pursey went on: "Tony Woodley is the Unite joint general secretary not the T and G general secretary and I believe he should remember that."
Earlier this week a Bayliss email sent to Unite members’ private addresses attacked the high profile strike by BA cabin crew over job cuts.
Bayliss said of the dispute: "It has been disastrous. It has lowered our standing and reputation. We need to make sure it never happens again."
Many Unite activists, and other trades unionists, see the BA dispute - by largely women workers - as a crucial battle against a dictatorial style of management.
The other candidates for Unite general secretary are Jerry Hicks and Gail Cartmail. The ballot starts on Monday.
Unite members at BA voted massively in favour of industrial action to defend working conditions in the airline industry.
In those circumstances the job of the union leadership is to throw their support behind the strikers.
BA workers should be helped to speak at every Unite branch in the country, explaining their dispute and raising cash for their strike fund.
Other airline and airport workers who have disputes with their bosses - and there is always something bubbling under - could be encouraged to co-ordinate action with the cabin crew.
I don't think the current Unite leadership has done enough to back the BA workers.
It seems a Bayliss-lead union would do even less.
Red Pepper reports: from the picket line at BA and from the deserted airport.
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