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RSA guilty of breaking employment law by firing IWGB union member for speaking to press

THE Royal Society of Arts (RSA) has been found guilty of breaking employment law after unfairly firing employee Ruth Hannan for participating in trade union activity.

The Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that the organisation had broken trade union laws for the first time in its 270-year history by dismissing the former head of policy and participation for speaking to the press.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) member was fired a day after she accused the RSA of being “hypocritical” and “not living its values” in a piece published by The Observer in October 2022.

Staff, who have recently staged ongoing pay dispute strikes for the first time in the RSA’s history, had been fighting to gain trade union recognition for IWGB at the time.

They accused RSA chief executive Andy Haldane and senior management of anti-union tactics and creating a toxic working environment.

The union, earlier this month, warned that the RSA no longer resembles “the historic, progressive organisation that both staff and fellows hold in such high esteem.”

Union members at the RSA said: “Ruth’s victory has strengthened our resolve to continue pushing not only for fair pay, but to also restore the RSA as a good and safe place to work, something it has not been for staff over the last year under Andy Haldane’s leadership.”

Ms Hannan said: “I feel a deep sense of relief at the ruling. Knowing that my reputation and my professionalism had been tarnished was incredibly painful.

“To be able to do this one small thing that will help other workers feel safer in their fight to have stronger rights in the workplace is worth the stress I’ve endured.”

A RSA spokesman said: “We respect, but are extremely disappointed, by the Tribunal’s judgment given the facts of this case and we reserve our right to appeal it.

“We remain surprised that in such circumstances a legal claim such as this could even proceed.  The individual in question was a member of the senior management team and had resigned with just three days of their notice period left to work. 

“We asked them not to return to the office for the remaining three day period after they made various inaccurate and misleading statements to the national press. They were paid in full for the remaining three days’ notice.

“We have acted at all times in good faith and in the best interests of the RSA and the wellbeing of our staff.”

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