NUJ: Government must enforce orders to reinstate

The NUJ will this week hit out at the refusal of Government ministers to force companies to reinstate workers who have been unfairly dismissed.

Members of the NUJ’s Parliamentary Group will call on Employment Minister Gerry Sutcliffe to act in the wake of the failure of Aberdeen Press and Journals to reinstate journalist Eugenie Verney. The company refused to have Verney back, despite being ordered to do so after an employment tribunal said she had been unfairly dismissed.

NUJ MPs have also tried to move an amendment to current employment legislation after being briefed about Verney’s case.

Now they are to deliver a letter to Sutcliffe calling for action to address “the scandal of those who flout tribunal decisions to reinstate”.

NUJ leaders will also raise the issue at this year’s Trades Union Congress in Brighton in September.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “This case is a blatant example of how the law is biased in favour of employers. They can sack people without good reason, be found guilty, be ordered to reinstate them, refuse, claim the employment relationship has broken down and then face nothing more than a paltry fine.

“If the Government is serious about fairness at work, it needs to change the law to protect individuals from being victimised. The remedy for unfair dismissal should be reinstatement – anything less is a charter for continued abuses.”

Verney was Aberdeen Journals’ local NUJ branch representative. She was made redundant within a week of an announcement that a redundancy selection exercise would take place.

In July 2003, an employment tribunal declared she had been unfairly dismissed and issued a reinstatement order. Nothing happened.

In February 2004, Verney went back to the tribunal for a remedy hearing.

The tribunal then withdrew the reinstatement order on the grounds that “the employment relationship had irretrievably broken down”.

By Jean Morgan

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