Last week, in what has been labelled as a “David and Goliath victory” Glasgow bar workers were successful in an Employment Tribunal claim against Scottish hospitality giants, the G1 Group.
Following their dismissal from the Grosvenor Café on Ashton Lane in September 2017, five Unite members, represented by Michael Briggs of Thompsons Solicitors, won their Employment Tribunal claims for unfair and wrongful dismissal.
Prior to the hearing taking place, the G1 group settled some of the claimant’s claims for a breach of the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative at their disciplinary hearings. At the disciplinary and appeal hearing, the G1 group did not allow the claimant’s chosen representative, Bryan Simpson, to accompany them.
With three of the right to be accompanied claims settled, the tribunal had to consider whether two of the claimants have been unfairly dismissed and whether all of the claimants had been wrongfully dismissed.
Due to the rule that a worker must have at least two years’ continuous service to claim unfair dismissal, only two of the claimants were able to argue that they had been unfairly dismissed by the G1 Group. They argued that the decision to dismiss was not reasonable, that there had not been a reasonable investigation and that the dismissal was out with the range of reasonable responses available to a reasonable employer. The tribunal held that the G1 group had “not carried out a reasonable and proper procedure and the decision to dismiss…fell out with the band of reasonable responses which a reasonable employer might have adopted.”
All of the claimants argued that they had been wrongfully dismissed. To assess this claim, the tribunal had to consider whether the claimants had committed a material breach of the employment contract entitling the employer to dismiss. The tribunal found that three of the claimants were not in material breach of their employment contracts. As a consequence the employer was not entitled to dismiss them. The tribunal thus concluded that three of the claimants had been wrongfully dismissed. As the employer had not given the claimant’s notice or payment in lieu of notice the tribunal found that the employer had breached their contracts.
This is a massive victory for hospitality workers nationwide. Hospitality workers are often in casual, precarious work and in many cases do not feel empowered enough to challenge bad bosses. The message to workers from this case is clear; you have strength in numbers. Join a trade union, organise and agitate. If you feel like you or your colleagues are being badly treated, don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights.
If you work in the Hospitality Sector and want to find out more about getting involved in a trade union or are looking for getting legal advice please contact Better than Zero
Blog by Alice Bowman