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Victory is claimed in City Hall union battle
A union is claiming victory after challenging Bradford Council over how members are represented during grievance and disciplinary procedures.
In April, the Council published a new Industrial Relations Framework to outline how it would work with unions.
But Unite representatives said the changes would have denied members of their statutory rights, under the Employment Relations Act, to choose their own representatives.
The union, which represents 550 staff, said members would not have been able to take a union representative of their choice into grievance or disciplinary meetings – as only representatives working in the same department would be allowed to accompany staff.
Unite Regional Officer for Bradford Mark Fieldhouse said: “We were in a silly situation where Council managers under instruction from Human Resources were selecting trade union stewards to represent members, regardless of who the member wanted.”
Unite challenged the Framework proposals and a test case in July, not related to Bradford Council, has led to changes in guidelines from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). Mr Fieldhouse said: “Unite challenged this process politically, industrially and legally, resulting in the change of procedure. This means that members can now ensure that they get representation from a person who is their choice. This is a basic right in law.”
Unite said the result meant members were assured of their union’s commitment to protecting their terms and conditions and said it was a “significant victory”.
A spokesman for the Council said: “The Council did not impose an agreement on any trade union. Whilst the other trade unions – Unison, GMB and UCATT – agreed a new Industrial Relations Framework with the Council, Unite decided not to sign up to that agreement. The Council is committed to continuing to work constructively with all the trade unions. The Council is a responsible employer and complies with ACAS Codes of Practice on all matters in employment, including individual accompaniment rights.
“An Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in July 2013, that did not involve Bradford Council, questioned some advice that appeared in an ACAS Code of Practice.
“As a result of the Tribunal decision, ACAS revised its advice to all employers and the Council took immediate steps to implement that advice.”
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