Unite member, Frank Hutchinson, worked for a manufacturing company for more than 18 years at a site that was a 15 minute walk from his home.
His employer made a decision to move its operation to another location, which was the other side of Manchester, and offered a relocation package to transfer employees.
One element of the relocation package was that the employer would provide financial assistance and a minibus/taxi service for workers on the 6am shift. This package only applied for the first 12 months at the new site.
Frank had reservations about the move and discussed it with his employer.
It was explained to Frank that his employer would try and shift him with a colleague who he could get a lift to work with, on the basis that he did not drive. However, Frank was concerned about relying on another individual in order to get to work, especially as shifts frequently changed.
Frank made enquiries and learnt that it would take over an hour to travel to the new site by bus and tram, and that he would not be able to get there by public transport for the 6am shift start time.
Having weighed up his options Frank refused the relocation to the new site. However, his employer considered his refusal to be unreasonable and refused to pay him a redundancy payment.
Despite Frank appealing his employer’s decision and raising a grievance about it, his employment was terminated without a redundancy payment after 18 years of service.
He contacted Unite Legal Services and was advised that he was entitled to a redundancy payment. However, despite Unite Legal Services’ arguments his employer refused to pay.
Unite Legal Services supported Frank up to and at the Employment Tribunal hearing, where the Judge decided that Frank’s refusal to work at the new site was reasonable and that his employer should pay his redundancy payment. Frank was then paid his redundancy payment entitlement in full.
Frank said: “It was great after everything that I had been through to hear the Judge agree with Unite Legal Services that my decision was reasonable and that I was entitled to a redundancy payment. I am still smiling about this weeks later.
“Don’t be scared of taking on your employer, with the help of the union’s legal service you can take them on and win.”
Mick Whitley, North West regional secretary, said: “With Unite’s support, Frank won his case and recovered 100% of the sums he was entitled to. Had Frank not been a Unite member he would have had to pay the legal fees incurred in pursuing his claim. Frank’s case goes to show the benefits of being a Unite member when employment disputes arise.”