Unite members at Glasgow East Women’s Aid start strike action after major legal victory

Unite can confirm that its Glasgow East Women’s Aid members will start strike action tomorrow (Friday 1 December) following a major legal victory secured on behalf of five dismissed workers.

Unite members will begin the first stoppage tomorrow – the first of twenty-one days in total - which will continue until 16 February 2024. Unite’s members at Glasgow East Women’s Aid emphatically supported strike action with a 100 per cent yes vote. 

In a major new development in the dispute, the union can further reveal that in partnership with Allan McDougall’s Solicitors, it has successfully secured ‘interim relief’ on behalf of five workers dismissed on 28 November. 

An employment tribunal judged that the five dismissed workers had a “pretty good chance” of succeeding in their cases that they were automatically and unfairly dismissed due to being trade union members and for making use of trade union services. The judgment in favour of Unite and the five workers means that the workers will continue to be paid by Glasgow East Women’s Aid and receive all contractual benefits up until the date that a full tribunal has fully determined this case. 

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite has secured an important first step in delivering justice for our five members who were callously dismissed.

“Unite will never tolerate any of our members being targeted and victimised simply for being members of Unite and using the services of their union in defence of their jobs, pay and conditions. The workers at Glasgow East Women’s Aid have Unite’s full and complete support.”

Unite previously revealed in October that 13 Unite members were suspended prior to the five dismissals. All workers are highly trained women and children’s support workers who provide critical and lifesaving services for women and children experiencing domestic abuse in greater Easterhouse - one of Scotland’s most economically deprived communities. 

Alice Bowman of Allan McDougall Solicitors, the solicitor acting for the claimants, said: Clearly the claimants and Unite are delighted with this initial assessment of the tribunal.  This case is set in the wider context of industrial tension, industrial action, and decision of the board to suspend the service at Glasgow East Women’s Aid, leaving vulnerable women and children without much needed support and advocacy when fleeing domestic abuse. We hope that the claimants’ success in this interim relief application will encourage discussions between parties to get the Unite members back to work, and the service back up and running.

 “As this matter is still to be heard in full by the tribunal and witness evidence is yet to be heard and tested, it would not be appropriate to provide further comment at this time.”

The organisation’s main office in Easterhouse has been closed for 10 weeks following the mass suspension of staff. Unite is demanding that Glasgow city council and the Scottish government urgently intervene as funders of Glasgow East Women’s Aid on behalf of the service users, and the staff currently suspended.

Unite industrial officer, Linda Wilson, said: “Unite will stand up against bullying and victimisation wherever it shows its face in the workplace.

“Glasgow East Women’s Aid need to think very carefully about its next steps because our members are absolutely resolute in standing up for their jobs and service users.”

“We repeat our demand in light of this important legal decision that the organisation’s funders including Glasgow city council and the Scottish government step in because it is public money which allows the centre to operate.”