Unite alleges that shop steward Teresa Santucci, who has a 19-year-long impeccable employment record with Peabody - the charitable housing trust founded in 1862 to revolutionise social housing - was summarily dismissed because she is disabled and for her trade union activities.
Ms Santucci, a mother of two, was not the subject of any investigation, capability or disciplinary procedure.
Unite, the country’s largest union, said she was sacked ‘on the spot’ without a single allegation being levied against her, contrary to Peabody's own policies and procedures, and all employment legislation.
Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus said: "Peabody clearly decided that Teresa was 'problematic' and simply decided to get rid of her. The company has not come up with a single allegation other than the notion that she and her manager 'didn't get on'.
“The reality is that she has been victimised because of her disability and because she was a Unite rep who stuck her head above the parapet.
“There is simply no plausible alternative explanation as to why Peabody acted in such an appalling way – having worked there for 19 years, she was just called in by HR and sacked.
“George Peabody would be turning in his grave if he knew how the organisation he founded for the common good and the poor of Victorian London was behaving.
“We believe that this is indicative of a wider 'corporatisation' and anti-union stance at Peabody where our members tell us that far from the cosy, 'family' charity of Peabody of old, there now exists a climate of fear, bullying, overwork and control.
"Teresa's case is a perfect example of why Unite stands firmly against the coalition’s downgrading of employment rights which makes it even easier to dismiss employees and harder for ordinary working people like Teresa to fight such an injustice.
“Our members at Peabody will not be intimidated. At an emergency meeting it was agreed that Unite would launch a robust campaign for justice for Teresa.”
Peabody’s activities across the capital include social housing, leasehold, shared ownership, supported housing, key-worker accommodation and commercial units.
For further information please contact Nicky Marcus on 07779 800607 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.