Sussex HGV drivers fired due to “vile treatment” by buck-passing firms
- Wednesday 12 July 2023
Family firm Bimson, as well as Ibstock and Wincanton, accused of ‘soulless corporate self-interest’
More than 20 HGV drivers and admin support staff working out of sites in Sussex and Durham, have been unfairly fired because of a dispute involving three firms over a contract changing hands.
The workers were employed by haulage giant Wincanton on a contract for brick maker Ibstock. The contract recently transferred from Wincanton to ‘family’ haulage firm Bimson.
Wincaton fired the workers without redundancy pay or remaining holiday pay on 3 July, saying Bimson has a duty to employ them on the same terms and conditions they were previously employed on. Wincanton says Bimson must do this because the company is liable under Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) legislation, known as TUPE.
Carlisle-based Bimson, which claims to be a family firm and boasts of its high pay and charitable endeavours, has refused to do so. Ibstock, meanwhile, is refusing to intervene to ensure that the staff, who have worked on its behalf for years, are treated fairly. All three companies are profitable multimillion pound firms.
Craig Goulden, who worked out of the same Ibstock brickyard in Pulborough, West Sussex, for 30 years, said: “This situation has put immense strain on everyone who worked for Ibstock under Wincanton. We have families to support and bills to pay but we’ve been treated as if we are just nothing. My wife has multiple sclerosis and the situation has made us both sick with stress.”
Under the current circumstances, which Unite says are unlawful, the workers have been left without redundancy pay from Wincanton. At the same time, they cannot TUPE transfer their length of service benefits, terms and conditions or current pay scales if they take up employment with Bimson, which will treat them as new starters on standard contracts.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “There is no other way to describe how these workers have been treated but vile. Bimson bills itself as a charitable and well paying family firm but it is engaging, along with Wincanton and Ibstock, in soulless corporate self-interest and buck passing.
“All of these firms have the resources to take responsibility without batting an eyelid, but are instead content to squabble between themselves without a thought of the consequences for the individuals and families caught in the middle. They can rest assured that Unite will pursue every avenue to ensure these workers get justice.”
Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said: “All three companies should be ashamed of themselves and Unite will be holding all concerned to account. If this matter is not resolved without delay, Unite will be launching a legal claim in order for a tribunal to make the decision these companies could not.”
For media enquires ONLY contact Unite senior communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.