Transport & General Workers Union v Brauer Coley Ltd UK, EAT, 27 October 2006
Following redundancies at the industrial engineering firm Brauer Coley, the trade union that the company formally recognised for its shop-floor engineering section, the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G), claimed compensation for all redundant employees (including many workers in other sections). The T&G alleged that the company had failed to comply with its collective consultation obligations, and claimed 'protective awards' as a result.
In redundancy situations, the duty to consult with employee representatives (eg trade unions recognised for collective bargaining or elected representatives) applies where an employer is proposing to make 20 or more employees at one establishment redundant within a period of 90 days or less. Where an employer fails to comply, it may be liable to pay compensation in the form of protective awards.
The tribunal granted a protective award, but only to the shop-floor engineering section employees. The T&G appealed.
On appeal, the EAT confirmed that only those employees who are the subject of a protective award may enforce it and, as the tribunal had ruled here, only those employees for whom the union was recognised could benefit from the award. Other employees had to either claim individually or via any elected employee representatives.
The central question in this case was whether staff who were not represented by the union could benefit from the protective award. On the facts of this case, the answer appears to be no. However, as this case concerned a previously undecided point, the EAT gave the union permission to go to the Court of Appeal.