Armed forces retailer Naafi and the MSF union have struck a deal to keep disputes out of employment tribunals.
As part of their new partnership agreement, first reported in Personnel Today last October, they have agreed to resolve matters jointly, or through a third party such as Acas, without involving the courts.
Cyril Carter, MSF regional organiser, said the deal is the first of its kind agreed by the union. It is thought to be unique in the trade union movement.
The deal will see the company’s procedures scrutinised by the union in exchange for the union backing fewer cases.
Mike Nicholson, HR director at Naafi, said it is a major step forward in staff-management relations and will provide protection to both sides. He admitted that Naafi has had a problem with claims being brought against it.
Under the deal anyone who believes they have been unfairly dismissed, but whose appeal has been rejected, will have their case investigated by the MSF and Naafi.
If there is a case to answer it will be resolved through arbitration, only going to tribunal as a last resort. If there is not a case the union will not back a member wanting to go to tribunal.
Carter said the intention is to cut out the need to go to tribunal, not to prevent people going. He stressed tribunals will still be a last resort and people will be able to make claims without union backing.
“What we are saying is that if Naafi has acted reasonably we would advise that member that their chances at tribunal would be pretty slim,” he said.
The deal is the latest measure brought in by Nicholson to improve staff-management relations.
Carter said, “There has been a definite change of climate and culture over the last two years. Before that a partnership agreement would not have been contemplated by either side.”