A Territorial Army (TA) solider who was made redundant days after he returned from fighting in Afghanistan has won his job back following an employment tribunal.
Simon Sunderland was made redundant from his position as a production operator at the engineering firm Cummins, but a tribunal has now ruled against the company, and Sunderland has been reinstated.
Sunderland left his post at the factory for a 12-month tour of duty in May 2008, with the understanding that his job would be held for his return.
He returned from Afghanistan in March 2009, and was due to spend time on leave with his family before returning to work.
But the firm made him redundant – a move that Unite union argued was in breach of legislation protecting workers who are called up to serve with the TA.
Mike Routledge, from the union Unite, which represented Sunderland at the tribunal, said the verdict was “fantastic news”.
He told the Northern Echo: “We have said all along that Cummins’ behaviour was morally incomprehensible and legally questionable. Now it has been proved that it was legally wrong.
“It is vitally important that we support those who are putting their lives on the line. The least we can do is make sure they have a job waiting for them when they come back.”
A spokesman for Cummins said the company had sought legal advice, and consulted the Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers group, before making Sunderland redundant.
He said: “During late 2008 and early 2009, unprecedented economic conditions reduced Cummins Darlington business by more than 60%, forcing a major redundancy programme.
“Tough decisions were made to safeguard the plant and its current employees, and 440 staff were made redundant.
“Cummins accepts the decision [of the tribunal] and have welcomed Simon back to work with the company.”