In a major victory for Unite the union and workers employed at the Ineos Grangemouth site, a tribunal has ruled that an employer cannot impose a pay offer – and that Ineos must now compensate workers for attempting to do so.
Unite says that the long-anticipated Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgement also has huge ramifications for workers everywhere, and calls on employers to note that any attempts to impose pay deals or present them as a `final offer’ will be challenged by the union.
The EAT has also awarded each of Unite’s 28 members who took the claim £3,830. It is estimated that Ineos’s breach of the legislation will cost the company in total over £100,000 in compensation.
The Ineos case, which dates back to 2017, is significant to workers’ rights in the UK because it provides clarity on what constitutes an unlawful pay offer to an employee.
The EAT decision also makes it clear that an employer cannot simply rely on using the terminology “this is a final offer” to substantiate that a collective bargaining process is exhausted, and that it is entitled to make a direct approach to the workforce and bypass the recognised trade union.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said, “This is an important legal victory for Unite and the wider trade union movement. Employers everywhere should take note. Unite the union will use every tool at its disposal to defend collective bargaining and will not tolerate employers like Ineos trying to bypass their obligations to negotiate.”
The case was originally brought against Ineos by Unite members when the company made a decision to unilaterally impose a pay award which the workforce had rejected, and to serve notice on its existing trade union recognition arrangements.
Unite members lodged claims contending that the pay imposition in 2017 was an unlawful inducement breaching the law. The EAT upheld the decision but the case was delayed while a related case (the Kostal case) progressed to the Supreme Court.
Mark Lyon, Unite legal officer added, “We are delighted to secure success for our members with this important judgement. The case further develops a very important area of the law which is finally receiving long-overdue attention.
“The right of a recognised trade union to collectively bargain on behalf of its members is a fundamental right of workers and it is vital we rely upon the existing legislative provisions to ensure that right is respected and upheld.”
By Andrew Brady