Conservative-controlled Bromley council will face allegations of victimisation of a long-standing trade union rep at an employment tribunal (ET) in Ashford, Kent, starting on Monday (2 October).
Unite, the country’s largest union, lodged two separate claims against the council’s treatment of Kathy Smith, a council employee and Unite branch secretary.
The hearing at the Ashford employment tribunal, expected to last up to three weeks, stems from the council’s behaviour towards Kathy Smith, who firmly opposed the council’s mass privatisation agenda. Council bosses removed her full-time trade union facility time in June 2015.
The ET will consider two separate claims lodged against the council in March and June 2016. The claims relate to trade union victimisation, breach of the right to paid time-off for trade union duties/training, breach of the right to unpaid time off to carry out union activities and whistleblowing detriment/victimisation.
The victimisation includes allegations involving a number of Tory councillors directly. Part of Ms Smith’s claim relates to allegations of bullying, threats and aggressive behaviour by the councillors during a meeting of the local joint consultative committee on 25 February 2016.
Other allegations of victimisation include refusal of time off in lieu (TOIL) when representing members on non-working days, refusal to allow her to stand as departmental rep (a position she had held for the previous 10 years since the role’s inception), and failure to fix the computer and telephone in the Bromley Unite office to allow her to carry out union duties.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This is a very important case that goes to the heart of the legitimate role of a trade union representative in the workplace and the responsibilities they have to represent their members.
“The ET will hear serious allegations of victimisation against our long-standing branch secretary Kathy Smith who stood up against the council’s unpopular privatisation of local government services.
“Unite is, again, putting down a strong marker that it will always stand up against any victimisation of our workplace reps, wherever and whenever it occurs.”
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065
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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.
Unite Legal Services acts for over 20,000 members a year and recovered over £209 million in damages in 2016. 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 has taken the most high profile of employment cases over the last 12 months, and secure legal victories in significant claims for the benefit of members.
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.