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Victimised union activist wins tribunal case against outsourcing firm

A UNION activist victimised by a private outsourcing company working for Wakefield Council in West Yorkshire has won her claim of unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.

School kitchen manager Carol Dewrow was convener for public service union Unison at ISS UK, which provides school catering services for the council.

The tribunal in Leeds heard how Ms Dewrow was involved in a national Unison campaign to recover wages which the union said ISS had unlawfully withheld from 45 school cooks in Wakefield, and how ISS tried to stop her carrying out trade union duties.

Unison said that the multinational corporation, which was subcontracted by Engie to deliver school meals, changed the way it paid staff last April.

The new system meant that ISS school caterers were not paid for as long as three weeks.

According to the union, when the wages were eventually paid there was a week’s pay missing, which ISS denied.

The campaign was part of a national claim against ISS UK Ltd, affecting 500 low-paid workers. 

Unison regional organiser Rianne Hooley said: “We are delighted that the employment tribunal decision confirms that ISS acted unlawfully and we look forward to the tribunal determining an appropriate remedy when it meets in February.”

Wakefield Unison branch chair Jackie Lambert said: “It is quite common that when trade union representatives are effective and are doing a good job supporting members, some employers take exception to it and they can make up spurious complaints and false allegations to try and stop or restrict them in their role.

“This case demonstrates that Wakefield Unison will not tolerate such bullying behaviour. Let all nasty employers know, if you victimise our representatives, we will throw the full weight of the union behind them and we will call you out.”

ISS said in a statement to the Star: “We note the decision of the employment tribunal in relation to an ISS employee. ISS is a fair and responsible employer and remain committed to the wellbeing of our employees.

“We value our relationships with all recognised unions and continue to work in close collaboration to support our local teams, partners and customers.”

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