Right to be accompanied: bus company vetoed drivers’ union rep

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It was a breach of the right to be accompanied for an employer to refuse to allow a trade union representative to act as a companion in any of its disciplinary or grievance hearings, an employment tribunal has found. Stephen Simpson rounds up tribunal decisions from the previous week.

Right to be accompanied: veto on trade union representative was unlawful
In Eleftheriou and another v Arriva London North Ltd, the employment tribunal found that an employer’s veto on a trade union representative accompanying its employees to disciplinary or grievance hearings led to breaches of the right to be accompanied.

Bus drivers Mr Eleftheriou and Mr Bowani wanted Mr McConville, an accredited trade union representative for the RMT, as their companion at disciplinary hearings.

However, managers had been instructed not to allow Mr McConville to accompany employees at disciplinary or grievance hearings because of what was seen as unreasonable behaviour, such as talking over others, during hearings.

Mr Eleftheriou’s disciplinary hearing went ahead without representation and he was issued with two cautions.

Mr Bowani was also refused his request to be accompanied by Mr McConville at a disciplinary hearing, at which he was dismissed. Both men claimed that the employer breached their right to be accompanied.

The employment tribunal revisited binding case law that, as long as the choice is a trade union official or a fellow worker, an employer should not veto the employee’s choice, even when it considers the companion to be unsuitable.

In upholding their claims, the tribunal awarded each claimant two weeks’ wages.

Read more details of the case and the full judgment…


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