Unite, the UK’s construction union, has secured an important victory over the union’s right to be notified of redundancies following a ruling regarding workers employed at the Stanlow Oil Refinery in Cheshire.
In April 2020, the company Bilfinger UK, which employs workers at the facility, took the decision that it was going to make over 100 workers redundant. However, it denied Unite representatives access to collective redundancy meetings and failed to comply with the specified redundancy selection process and consult with the relevant unions.
The affected workers were employed under the terms of the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI), the relevant industrial agreement. The NAECI agreement includes a dispute resolution mechanism and Unite pursued the case via this avenue.
Unite steward's key role
Unite’s senior steward at Bilfinger, Stephen Muirhead, played a key role in pursuing the case after he was barred from attending the collective redundancy meetings on behalf of the workforce.
Last week the NAECI dispute panel ruled entirely in Unite’s favour:
- Allowed union to participate in the collective consultation for redundancies
- Should have consulted with the union over the redundancy selection process.
Fully comply with rules
Unite will be utilising the judgement to ensure that other NAECI companies fully comply with the agreement when considering making redundancies.
Unite regional officer Lee Brennan said: “The findings of the dispute panel are warmly welcomed. Bilfinger UK showed complete contempt and disregard to their workers at a time when the nation was in a crisis.
“This victory could not be achieved without members, stewards and officers working together, collecting the evidence and then presenting it to the disputes panel.
“Special credit should be given to Unite’s senior steward Stephen Muirhead, who was crucial to ensuring the grievance was heard and who was also made redundant by the company.
“Unite will now be ensuring that all NAECI companies understand the implications of the judgement and properly follow the rules in the future.”