Unite secures compensation for 32 members in employment rights claim against automotive manufacturer

Unite Legal Services represented 32 members in claims against an automotive manufacturer arising from their dismissals, following the loss of a contract to make components for Vauxhall cars at the General Motors plant at Ellesmere Port. 

A claim was also supported by Unite Legal Services for a protective award owing to the employer’s failure to consult with Unite representatives about the redundancies. 

The Vauxhall car plant contractor, who the Unite members worked for, maintained that the employees would TUPE transfer to another Vauxhall contractor. It soon became apparent that this would not happen and their employment came to an end. 

In the lead up to their dismissals the employer sought to get the members to sign agreements saying they were resigning and were not dismissed, in a cynical attempt to prevent them from bringing claims against the company for the sums they were legally entitled to. 

The workplace representative acted quickly to prevent members signing away their rights and Unite Legal Services stepped in to assist the members to recover the sums owed to them following their dismissals. 

Due to the efforts made by the Unite workplace representative and General Motors, jobs were secured for all our members with another contractor on site. 

With the support of Unite Legal Services, a claim was brought to the Employment Tribunal where the Judge agreed with the union that TUPE did not apply and that all the members were entitled to compensation for their unfair dismissals. The case was listed for another Tribunal hearing where the Judge would decide what compensation to award to the members. 

Despite the work of Unite Legal Services and representatives of the union, it was not possible to negotiate settlement before the first day of the hearing. However, following extensive negotiations on the morning of the first day of the hearing a settlement was reached. 

Unite’s North West regional legal officer, Michael Tighe, said: “The situation our members found themselves in, where two employers dispute whether jobs should TUPE transfer, is sadly all too common. This means that large numbers of our members unfortunately find themselves out of work through no fault of their own. In this case, due to efforts of our workplace representatives, our members secured alternative employment. This case goes to show how practical assistance can be provided by Unite in such circumstances. It also demonstrates how Unite Legal Services will push to recover no less than what our members deserve. It was unfortunate that the employer in this case did not appreciate this until the morning of the final Employment Tribunal hearing.” 

Including Unite’s claim owing to the employer’s failure to consult with the union, the case settled for just short of £500,000, divided between the 32 claimants depending on their length of service.