A legal case launched by Unite could prove to be a wake up call for rogue employers the union has claimed today (September 29).
An employment tribunal will be asked to consider the case of a member who was furloughed in April 2020 only to be forced to work – and then dismissed for raising concerns about the abuse of the law.
The union is pursuing a claim for unfair dismissal, unlawful deduction of wages and breach of contract against Littleborough based electronic firm Falconex Ltd.
The worker at the heart of the case was told repeatedly that he was expected to continue to work for Falconex while on furlough despite that being expressly forbidden by the law in place at the time.
Further, the union’s member was told in late May that he was ‘on the top of the list of any redundancy” and that “we would never consider re-hiring you whatever the circumstance”.
Unite claims that senior management also attempted to intimidate workers from turning to their lawful trade union for support.
Falconex’s managing director issued a memo to all staff stating that contacting Unite was “clearly a break of trust” adding: “Using a third party, such as a union or a solicitor to enter a dialogue is seen as a direct threat to the business, and simply put, if your’re not working for Falconex, then your’re working against it.”
Unite regional officer Dave Roberts said, “Our member raised entirely legitimate concerns about the legality of working during furlough but his subsequent treatment by his employers was shocking.
“At the time it was illegal to work while on furlough, a condition that Falconex appears to believe did not apply to them.
“Workers have an absolute right to consult and seek advice from unions about employment matters and Unite will always stand by members who ask only for decency and respect yet are treated with badly by an employer,” he noted.
Unite regional legal manager Michael Tighe added,“While the vast majority of employers complied with the rules of furlough this demonstrates that some rogue bosses chose to ignore the rules.
“Our member did the honourable thing and called out this profiteering.
“The support that we have been able to offer our member when he faced tremendous pressure demonstrates the importance of being in Unite: you will not be left to push back on your own,” he went on to say.
“Our legal team is now bringing a claim to ensure that our member is fully compensated and this employer taken to task over its actions.”
By Barckley Sumner