Unite has formally lodged an employment tribunal claim against the Labour-controlled Coventry Council on behalf of union rep Pete Randle. The council stands accused of shamefully victimising Pete for his trade union duties.
On Tuesday (5 April), supporters of Pete Randle were out in force to show solidarity ahead of his investigatory hearing which appeared to be based on groundless and unsubstantiated charges.
Last month, the council took the outrageous decision to escalate tensions with Unite by suspending the union’s shop steward on bogus charges in the middle of the bin lorry drivers’ dispute.
Strikes began early this year and the 70 HGV drivers have been on all-out strike since 31 January in a dispute over low pay. The workers’ basic rate of pay begins at just £22,183 per annum, which is far below the pay rates of neighbouring councils.
The dispute has already cost Coventry council millions, with costs rising daily when it would cost just £300,000 to resolve the dispute. The council has even set up a strike-breaking, rogue alternative bin collection service.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Why on earth is Pete Randle being dragged through this kangaroo court? Judging from Tuesday’s hearing the council’s charges are groundless and they must be dropped. Unite will not allow Pete to be victimised for carrying out his trade union duties on behalf of members. We have now lodged a claim at the employment tribunal on Pete’s behalf.
“Councillors in Coventry need to put a stop to these attacks, step up and resolve this dispute. Unite is standing firm and will continue to do whatever is necessary in defence of our rep and our members’ claim for fair pay.”
Onay Kasab, Unite national lead officer, said: “On Tuesday, supporters of Pete Randle were out in force to show solidarity ahead of his hearing. You would expect Labour councillors to be by his side fighting against his victimisation rather than being the perpetrators. All because they don’t want to pay workers the fair rate for the job.”