Unite, Britain's biggest union, has secured the restoration of £2.8 million to the pay bill of Southampton city council plus compensation worth £65,000 to workers made redundant while it was under Tory control.
While Southampton city council was under a Conservative led administration in 2010-2011, council leaders took the decision to ruthlessly dismiss all its workers and re-engage them on inferior terms and conditions in order to reduce its budget while cutting jobs and services.
The new terms were equivalent to a pay cut of up to 5.5 per cent for the workers. Also there were cuts to allowances and a freeze on pay progression. But an employer looking to dismiss and re-engage in this way must collectively consult with the recognised trade unions for a period of 90 days before the dismissals take place.
Unite believed that Southampton city council had failed to consult for the full 90 days as required. As a result Unite made a claim for its members along with other unions. The matter was successfully settled without the need for a full Employment Tribunal hearing with 90 former employees of the Council receiving just over £65,000 and the the phased restoration of pay cuts to remaining staff reasonably estimated to be £2.8 million.
The challenge was part of a coordinated and successful campaign of industrial action, political activism and legal claims to protect the rights of council workers and union members.
Mark Wood, Unite branch secretary at Southampton city council, said: "The settlement of this legal challenge provides the final piece in a very significant and successful three pronged strategy involving industrial, political and legal action to gain justice for our members from Southampton city council."
"Not only did we secure a restoration of pay and compensation for Unite members, we also sent a very clear message to our employers and other local authorities that Unite is willing to fight back and that we will do so to win.
"On behalf of all members at Southampton city council, I would once again thank Unite for the fantastic support during our struggle."
Since the union brought the challenge against the council, the Tory government has cut the consultation period for collective redundancies from 90 to 45 days making it easier to sack workers and allow bad employers to make rushed decisions which will have serious knock-on effects to the economy.
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland's largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy.