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PCS Branch Win Right To Representation In ET Settlement After DWP Accused Of Breaking Employment Act 28/01/2014

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.
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Our branch has won an important point of principle against DWP management following a recent Employment Tribunal settlement detailed below.

We believe that the way in which the employer has behaved in this case, and since Lee’s dismissal in general, has confirmed our belief that Lee was dismissed unfairly and in relation to his trade union activities. Lee’s tribunal regarding his dismissal has been arranged for late April, the branch will be organising a protest, we will be in touch with you regarding this in the near future. Please continue to check the branch website as we may need to write more details on there.

What follows is an explanation of the recent employment tribunal which we believe provides this further evidence. Branch members have already been emailed regarding this, but we believe this will be of interest to many in the much wider trade union movement.

A member in Sheffield Contact Centre had been denied the trade union rep of his choice for a grievance meeting, these denials were challenged internally with the help of Tom Bishell (the branch secretary) but could not be resolved. Tom assisted the member in submitting an Employment Tribunal complaining that the DWP had broken the Employment Act (1999) by denying the member their legal right of their rep of choice. The key element to the case was that it is up to the trade union to recognise their reps, and not the employer.

The rep the member had chosen was Lee Rock, who has been dismissed by DWP and awaits the hearing of his Employment Tribunal. Union rules continue to allow Lee to be a member of PCS and a trade union rep, he was elected at the AGM in 2013 as an Assistant Secretary for the branch.

The DWP HR Director had written to Lee stating that the DWP did not recognise Lee as a TU Rep.  For reasons unknown, the DWP seemed to think it was up to them to decide on who our reps are.  The legal position is clear – it is up to members and the union to make the decision as to who our reps are.

Lee therefore took the Employment Tribunal case on for the member.

The case has just been settled outside of a tribunal because the DWP were keen to resolve the matter once their solicitors assessed the case.

The DWP were so keen to avoid the ET, that the final settlement resulted in a better outcome than was likely to be achieved by winning the case in a tribunal. The key outcomes are;

1. DWP to pay the maximum compensation allowed, i.e. two week’s pay (£505) to the member concerned.

2. DWP to pay the Tribunal fees of £1,200 that PCS had paid on the members behalf.

3. A removal of a managing attendance warning.

4. DWP to make a payment to cover member’s representive’s legal work.  This is £132 to Lee Rock for 4 hours work at £33ph – which is the ET rate for lay union reps.  (Lee promised to donate this to the branch hardship fund).

5. No confidentiality clause on the settlement meaning that TU are able to write to you regarding this.

We have already been informed by local Contact Centre management that they are aware of the settlement and its conditions. This means that members have regained their legal right to ask for Lee Rock to represent them on their personal case – regardless of the views of the DWP and Sheffield Contact Centre management. If you wish to have Lee to represent you please contact the branch secretary on tom.bishell@dwp.gsi.gov.uk and I will contact Lee on your behalf.

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1. ACAS Code of Practice after Toal v GB Oils | Employment Writes - 30/01/2015

[…] the PCS context it seems likely to me that it was on the basis of Toal that PCS rep Lee Rock was able to win the reportable out of court settlement on representation rights after DWP refused permission for a PCS member to represent a PCS […]


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