Total bastards and scumbags…and they nearly got away with it

January 30, 2007 at 10:03 pm (Uncategorized)

From today’s (UK) Times:

“7/7 victim wins cash over unfair dismissal

“A traumatised victim of the 7/7 bombings who was dismissed after taking two days’ sick leave has been given a substantial out-of-court settlement by her former bosses.

“Nattashar Gittens, 30, of Hackney, East London, was dismissed by James Harvard, a company of recruitment consultants, after she went home in distress last April over the death of a friend’s mother.

“Ms Gittens was also in great pain from a back injury and suffering nightmares and flashbacks after being blown off her feetby the Tavistock Square bus bomb in July 2005.

“She was dismissed from her £19,000-a-year job as a receptionist a week before she would have had one year’s service and legal protection against unfair dismissal. Her employers sought to have the case thrown out on the ground that she had started as a ‘temp’ and so had not been employed for a year.

“But the panel at the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that including the three weeks she was a ‘temp’ and the week’s notice she was denied, her employment amounted to one year and a day and so her claim could proceed”.

But note that Ms Gittens was only allowed to proceed with her case because the Tribunal decided that her first three weeks, as a ‘temp’, plus the week’s notice she wasn’t given, but should have been, should be included in her length of service. Had it not been for these technicalities (which might not apply in other, similar, cases), she would not have been allowed to pursue her Unfair Dismissal claim, because she would not have had twelve months service. That is clearly what her employers thought when they sacked her a week before her twelve months were up.

Prior to the 1997 general election, Blair and New Labour had promised to abolish the service requirement (then 24 months) for Unfair Dismissal and other employment rights, arguing , quite logically, that an Unfair Dismissal is unfair, regardless of service. Under pressure from the CBI, they backed down and merely reduced it from 24 months to twelve.

Employment Tribunals will never be a substitute for effective union organisation, but we must re-affirm the demand for full legal protection at work from day one, regardless of service.

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