3,000 emails in support of Birmingham health & saf...

3,000 emails in support of Birmingham health & safety rep over sacking by drug charity in ‘fire alarm’ row

10 May 2016

The boss of a Birmingham drug and alcohol charity, which sacked health and safety rep Alison Morris for raising concerns with her manager over fire safety, has received nearly 3,000 emails calling for her reinstatement.

David Biddle, the chief executive of CGL, the city’s leading substance abuse charity, has received thousands of emails supporting Alison Morris’ reinstatement.

Ms Morris was sacked last month after she pointed out the fire alarms at the charity’s Scala House office in January were not working.

Unite, the country’s largest union which is the sole recognised union at CGL, said that the 300-strong workforce in Birmingham backed Alison Morris’ immediate reinstatement – and if this did not happen, an industrial action ballot was very much on the cards.

Unite activists, colleagues, service users and members of the public have been asked to demonstrate in support of Alison for a second time at Holloway Circus, Birmingham B1 1 BT on Friday (13 May) between 12:30–14:00. The first demo was on 28 April.

Her internal CGL appeal will be heard on Monday (16 May). She is a drugs referral team leader with a 14-year exemplary record working for the NHS and the charity.

Unite said that Alison had reported that a fire officer who inspected the building had told her the building may be closed if the fire alarm problem was not sorted the following day. Senior management argued she said it would close – and this, according to the bosses, constituted as allegedly intentionally misleading management. Unite strongly disputes what the management claimed Alison said.
Unite regional officer Caren Evans said: “This is one of the most unfair and cack-handed sackings that I have come across - it defies all justice. We call upon CGL to immediately reinstate Alison, an exemplary employee, to her job.

“Unite has lodged an appeal against the sacking, to be heard on Monday, and also an unfair dismissal claim. The union and her work colleagues stand four-square behind her.

“Her workmates know that without Alison’s actions in raising concerns that if a fire broke out there would have been no alarm and their lives would have been at risk. 
“Any union rep would have done the same, CGL workers know that, and they know they could be next for the chop based on a spurious trumped
up charge.

“If Alison is not reinstated, there is a strong likelihood we will be holding an industrial action ballot on this issue.

“Further evidence has emerged in a statement from a person who was present in the building, that shows the management of CGL was made aware of the failure of the fire alarm on 25 January, some 24 hours before they started to take any action on the situation, and yet still did not engage with the statutory health and safety reps.”

Notes to editors:

Alison will not be available for media interviews as she has had to find alternative temporary work in order to mitigate her losses prior to any possible tribunal claim.

CGL is in the top 40 charities in the country. It took over 28 different contracts rolled into one on 1 March 2015 to become the single provider of drug and alcohol treatment services in Birmingham.
Its website says: ‘We are a leading charity providing treatment and support to over 55,000 vulnerable people in England and Wales every day. We champion people who have faced hardships like abuse, homelessness and addiction, and empower them to lead the lives they want, on their terms.’

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email:
Unite legal services acts for over 20,000 members a year and recovered over £160 million in damages last year. Unite legal services provides support to members in respect of all types of employment tribunal claims. Unite legal services have taken the most high profile of employment cases over the last 12 months, regularly supporting representatives victimised in the workplace.

Unite legal services recently won the holiday pay case allowing workers to receive their normal pay in their times of rest, this win alone was worth tens of millions in compensation for Unite members.

Unite legal services guarantee that members always receive 100 per cent of their damages.

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.