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GMB Trade Union Rights From Day One Tribunal Win

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Manchester Tribunal Rules Workers Have Right To Be Represented By Trade Unions From Day One In Job Regardless Of Employment Status

My win underlines that trade union representation is enshrined in stone and the ruling is a resounding victory for trade unionism says GMB member from Wigan.

An Employment Tribunal in Manchester has ruled in favour of Francis Collins a GMB member from Wigan Greater Manchester on the right to be represented at hearings by a trade union from day one on the job regardless of employment status. Case Number 2413340/2012.

Mr Collins lodged a claim after he was refused trade union representation during a disciplinary hearing in the 3 month probationary period of in his job with ILC Manchester t/a International Learning College in Manchester where he worked as an employment tutor in 2012.

Mr Collins began employment with the company on 26th March 2012 and had 11 weeks service when he was denied representation at a disciplinary hearing.  The company claimed that he had signed a contract agreeing to this.

Mr Collins supported by GMB insisted that as Section 10 (the right to representation) is a statutory right which is not tied to length of service or to contracts which deny employees their statutory rights.

The Tribunal has now ruled that whether a workers is temporary, on a probationary period, or otherwise, is irrelevant, a workers are still entitled to trade union representation under section 10, ERA 99 after reasonably requesting this and employers cannot force employees to sign this right away. Mr Collins has been awarded damages.

Francis Collins said "the company had added a clause to their contracts that they thought would exempt them from ACAS code, and trade union involvement, and in doing so it was a premeditated attempted to drive a coach & horses through the magic hole they thought they had created in the Employment Relations Act.

 The clause stated "The company reserves the right to dismiss or discipline an employee with less than 12 months continuous service without following the disciplinary procedure".

As it was in the contract that they force every employee to sign when starting employment, they thought they could make the clause, and the exemption, legally binding.

It is the first time I have ever seen a company attempt to get its employees to 'contractually opt out' of ACAS code, and their statutory right to representation before offering them employment.

I saw this clause when accepting the job, and was happy to sign it, as I knew that it is one thing to write a contract, but entirely another when attempting to enforce it in a courtroom.

Little did I know at the time that they would actually attempt just that later on down the line with myself.

The stakes were high during this case as if I had lost, then other employers would have used this case as a guide to indicate that trade union representation could in fact be refused by employers.

The fact that I won underlines what I have always believed, that trade union representation is enshrined in stone. This ruling is a resounding victory for GMB, and trade unionism as a whole.

I would like to dedicate this victory to the late Colin Priest a GMB officer as he has always been my friend, mentor, and inspiration to fight for what you believe in, even though it may seem that the odds are stacked against you."


Contact: Francis Collins 07758 836 969 or Eddie Gaudie GMB Regional officer on 07740 804 071 or 0151 727 0077 or GMB press office 07921 289880



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