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UNISON wins payout for unfairly dismissed North West drug treatment staff

 

A group of workers supporting adults with addiction issues has won a six-figure settlement after their new employer left them jobless and without redundancy pay.

The seven were recently awarded nearly £178,000 in compensation after UNISON backed their case against Arch Initiatives. UNISON took Arch to an employment tribunal for refusing to take on the staff when their jobs were transferred from Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation trust (GMW).

Arch Initiatives claimed the employees’ contract was solely for managing addiction treatment patients, but the substance misuse workers roles and duties went beyond this. Therefore the company said it was not responsible for them.

But the employment tribunal ruled that Arch acted unfairly in dismissing the seven who were left out of work and with no redundancy pay.

Denise Holcroft, 41, was among those staff who lost their jobs. She had worked for GMW for more than three years but was forced to take lower paid work elsewhere and on less hours until she found a full-time role.

Denise said: “There’s never a good time to be told you’re out of a job, but this was so stressful. I couldn’t pay my bills and had to take what work I could just to cover my mortgage.”

UNISON North West spokesperson for health Amy Barringer said: “It’s daunting for staff being transferred to a new employer, and utterly destabilising for them when the process is handled incorrectly.

“Arch Initiatives refused to play by the rules, but UNISON ensured it was held accountable and staff were properly compensated. We’ll continue to challenge bosses who ignore the law. ”

Notes to editors:
– Arch Initiatives tendered for and won a contract in 2012 to oversee the management of addiction treatment patients. This followed a restructuring of the service by Bolton Council.
– Staff who transfer from one employer to another should be protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE).
– Arch lost its appeal against the original tribunal decision and agreed to pay £177,530 compensation. The appeal was handled by UNISON’s legal department.
– Thompsons Solicitors was the law firm acting in the employment tribunal for workers belonging toUNISON.
– Denise Holcroft received £29,020 reflecting her loss of pay and pension benefits.
– Two staff in addition to the seven represented by UNISON also won their case against Arch Initiatives.

Last year, as the Trade Union Act 2016 concluded its passage through parliament, Labour MP Jo Stevens warned that the government had set itself on a “collision course” with Wales, which would end in the Supreme Court.

Indeed, Wales was open in its opposition to the Act so far as it affected industrial relations within Welsh public services, and this week the Assembly
fulfilled its vow to legislate in order to repeal those sections of the TUA that affect the devolved public sector by publishing the Trade Union (Wales) Bill.

The Bill proposes to overturn new laws to place an additional 40% support threshold on industrial ballots within "important" public services; reserved powers for Westminster to intervene in the facility time of public sector trade union representatives; and restrictions on the popular check-off system of deducting trade union subs from wages.

The UK government last year argued that Wales could not repeal the law as employment and industrial relations legislation has not been devolved, but Welsh Finance and Local Government Minister Mark Drakeford yesterday said that the Supreme Court has made it "clear" that where laws affect devolved responsibilities such as public services, the Welsh Assembly has jurisdiction.

Elsewhere, Westminster has published
new guidance on how the Trade Union Act will apply to "important" public services, as well as reports on the financial impact of changes to union political funds, and a new impact assessment on the Act as a whole.

The legislation is expected to come into force in April of this year.


 

A personal tribute from general secretary Dave Prentis to our president, who passed away yesterday
 
Yesterday, we heard the sad news that our president Eric Roberts, a lifelong servant of our union and of those in greatest need, had died after a brief struggle with cancer.
 
He was the president of UNISON, but more importantly he was a loyal and true friend to so many of us.
 
Born in Litherland, a proud Scouser and Liverpool fan, Eric was a man who lived enough – and had stories to tell – for more than one lifetime. From fixing drums for the Beatles, to wine waiter, baker and pots and pans seller – Eric eventually found his way to London.
 
And one day, seeing an ambulance shooting down Oxford Street, he decided that’s what he’d like to do.
 
He had found his calling. For 42 years he served the London Ambulance Service with the passion and dedication for which he became well-known, and his union as branch secretary, NEC member and – this year – our president.
 
He was the first ambulance person to be elected as UNISON president – something that I know was a source of immense pride to Eric, his branch, his family and everyone who knew him.
 
Eric wasn’t someone who sought out high office. Ambition wasn’t what drove him: instead, it was an unstoppable desire – a need – to serve people and help people, to represent them and to do his best for them.
 
To Eric, everyone in the union and the ambulance service had a part to play – and every day he did his job to the best of his ability, and brought out the best in others at the same time.
 
His loyalty to this union was as unquestionable and unswerving as his love for its members.
 
I will miss his honesty. I will miss his infectious personality. But most of all I will miss his friendship. Eric Roberts was a good man who gave so much to so many people.
 
Eric said upon his election as president that UNISON was the “best union in the country”, but the truth is that Eric was the best of us.
 
Today, our thoughts are with his children Jack and Rhian, family, friends and colleagues, as our union mourns one of our biggest personalities, most loved friends and most powerful advocates for the values that sustain us.
 
Eric Roberts – I will miss you, we will all miss you.
 
Rest in Peace my friend.
 
 

 

 

 

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